By Shay Berman, CEO and founder of Digital Resource

I've worked with many business-to-business (B2B) companies that still believe social media is a business-to-consumer (B2C) world. Whether this reluctance comes from fear, uncertainty or the (misguided) belief that their target markets don't use social to make buying decisions, some B2B companies have decided that they don't belong on social platforms.

These organizations are missing a key consideration: Social media activity plays a major role in how Google ranks websites. For any business looking to differentiate and build a brand presence online, the power of social media cannot be overestimated. Considering the vast majority of internet users never click beyond the first page of Google search results, companies can't afford to let fate determine their rankings.

How Social Media Plays Into Your Google Ranking

It boils down to this: Google takes everything your business does online into account when determining rankings.

Your positioning depends on anything that shows Google that your pages are high-quality, accurate, engaging and worthy of being influential on search. That could mean the types of posts you publish, the number of links that connect other sites to yours, your posting frequency and follower numbers -- any factor indicative of quality content.

It follows, then, that social media has the power to increase many of these factors. Popularity on social enlarges your following and spreads your influence, increasing the potential for links and connections that prove to Google how engaging you are.

Although I can't say definitively which platforms are most influential for Google rankings, the most popular networks -- such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter -- are a good place to start because they offer the biggest opportunity for user engagement. It's not just the most popular platforms that matter, though: If it makes sense for your business, smaller networks such as Academia.edu, Quora or SlideShare can add a boost of credibility to your ranking.

How to Use Social Media to Improve Your Google Ranking

Here are four surprisingly simple ways to leverage social media to take your Google ranking into your own hands:

1. Build a collection of keyword-rich profiles.

Choose the platforms that are most relevant to your business and industry, and then craft profiles that tell a story about why users should trust your content. Keywords indicate how relevant and useful your content will be to search users.

Spend time researching the keywords that are important to your B2B audience; use tools such as Moz, Google Keyword Planner, or SpyFu to find out how many people search for specific keywords, what keywords your competition ranks for and the value of various keywords. You can then use those factors to determine which keywords to own on your social platforms.

2. Be consistent.

Social media platforms that receive more posts will have more content to index -- this higher use will show Google that your site is relevant, functional, credible and authoritative.

Once you've built your collection of profiles, sprinkled with valuable keywords, start developing a cadence that keeps you top of mind with your audience. I recommend posting at least once per weekday. Any less, and you might not move the needle (especially if your competition is posting with competitive keywords). Posting more than once a day might not be necessary at first, but it can't hurt -- up to a point. Too many posts could annoy your audience, resulting in lost attention and engagement.

3. Increase your reach by promoting social.

It's one thing to post into the void; it's another to gain traction and engagement. To get the most out of social, you need to further your reach, deepen your engagement and expand your following with everything you do.

Remember to attach your social handles to your digital content so people can follow you for regular updates. Try Facebook advertising, for example, to drive more attention to your profile. Hosting a live event? Offer a giveaway for attendees who share their thoughts and tag your company. Connect your in-store and online experiences by rewarding digital actions with real-life perks such as discounts or free demos -- these are motivating for B2B customers, too.

4. Ask customers what they think.

Quality reviews and testimonials can add validity to your brand and increase your rank on Google. Get into the habit of asking customers for their feedback. Catch them after a successful experience or after they've taken an action to get closer to your brand. If your company regularly receives negative reviews, prioritize eliminating those real-life pain points so that your online presence can become more positive.

B2B companies can't afford to ignore social media -- if only because of how it can boost Google ranking. Using the four tips above to leverage your social media can improve your digital content and overall online presence.

Shay Berman is the CEO and Founder of Digital Resource, a full-service digital marketing agency located in South Florida.

Published on: May 17, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.