In a marketing setting, social media has a slew of advantages, including brand awareness and presence, advertising, customer service, content marketing, and more. But does it offer any SEO benefits? We investigate the connection between social media and SEO and whether social media has any direct benefits for SEO. In a nutshell, “it’s complicated.”
How does using social media benefit your efforts with SEO?
Published the article ‘Social Media and SEO – Friends with Benefits‘ in 2008, and I highly recommend reading it again now to see how far the digital world has progressed in the last nine years.
Some of the important facts and points mentioned in the article (while current at the time) may appear somewhat outdated in 2017:
- With 140 million active users, Facebook (when they are now over 2 billion)
- LinkedIn has 30 million registered users (less than 10 percent of their current user base)
- The popularity of now-defunct social platforms such as Digg (which sold for only $500,000 in 2012
- MySpace being mentioned alongside Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter (ha!)
- When linking from social profiles, use ‘SEO friendly’ anchor text (ahem… ‘money keywords’).
Nobody could have guessed what social media would become in such a short amount of time. Nearly a decade later and Facebook is nothing short of a social media superpower, Instagram has grown from zero to over 700 million users in the space of just seven years, MySpace has fallen out of popularity into the depths of dated pop-culture references, and using ‘SEO friendly’ anchor text is a very dangerous game to play in light of Google’s almighty Penguin updates.
It’s reasonable to say that everything has changed, and as the social media ecosystem evolves, so will its interaction with search engines and SEO strategies. But, in 2017, what exactly is this relationship?
Social media and SEO: It’s complicated
Google has previously made contradicting assertions about the impact of social media in its ranking system. On the one hand, they claim that social media pages are indexed in the same way that other web pages are and that social linkages thus count as links.
On the other hand, they have indicated that social indicators are not direct ranking determinants. Microsoft’s Bing team has stated that they, too, value the authority of social media profiles (e.g., Twitter profile metrics) and mentions across several social networks in their search engine.
It’s all really perplexing.
Can we state unequivocally that social indicators have a direct impact on search engine rankings? Most likely not. However, when we include the possible impact of social media on search engine rankings, the picture changes.
In my opinion, we should not be concerned about whether links from social networking platforms are valued the same as connections from high-quality, highly relevant websites. Instead, we should consider the advantages of using social media to assist increase ranking signals that we know search engines value.
We should also consider the influence of social media on the landscape of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Concentrating on a single ‘SEO statistic’ is as ancient as MySpace. SEO has become much more than just keywords and links. Great SEO is an essential component of any comprehensive, integrated digital marketing effort.
The days of marketing departments acting individually should be consigned to history, and we should instead focus on the frequently enormous benefits of integrated efforts. Having said that, social media can deliver a few SEO metric-specific boosts.
Any link-building campaign’s holy grail. Link earning has the ability to obtain several links from a single piece of content, as opposed to the individual links gained from more typical one-at-a-time guest posting strategies.
It’s link-building on steroids, but unless your website’s content has a high number of visitors or subscribers, your link earning potential is severely limited.
Social media takes the stage to the left.
What’s the best thing about social media in 2017? Almost everyone you know has a profile, and many of them have hundreds of connections. This provides a platform for content marketing that not only allows it to be spread instantaneously to hundreds of people but also allows people outside of your direct network to view your material as more people engage and interact with it.
Viral. I despise that word. It frequently creates false expectations. To me, viral means millions of views, similar to the difficult-to-understand concept of Gangnam Style’s simply ridiculous success and almost 3 billion views on YouTube.
It’s fantastic if your material goes viral, but you don’t need millions of views or tens of thousands of social shares for social media to have an impact on search rankings. Quality is more important than quantity, my dear.
If tens or hundreds of individuals interact with your post and material on a platform like LinkedIn, you can trust that the quality of such interactions is rather high. If done correctly, those social media views of your work will result in other content creators referring to your content in their publications. Your article has recently received links, which has an immediate influence on search rankings.
Front of mind: Co-citation and co-occurrence
As a quick follow-up to link building, your social content distribution will create touchpoints with your brand across many platforms. To borrow another word from my dislike list, your brand remains ‘front of mind.’
As a result, your co-citation and co-occurrence metrics may increase as a result of mentions throughout the web in what is likely to be highly relevant content.
Brand authority and CTR
Social media may be used to increase not only brand awareness but also brand authority. People are more skeptical of phony information and news on social media than they were a few years ago, but that does not mean that engaging in a well-planned, high-quality social media campaign can not help you establish your brand in the eyes of the public.
What do you think? When consumers go to look for a product, they might even search for your brand name or related search terms that are directly tied to your brand. In the absence of that, if your brand name is the only result that people recognise inside the search results, it can raise your search click-through rates.
Social media in search results
Because Twitter allows Google to access their “firehose” of real-time tweets, social media profiles, as well as tweets, are delivered within the SERPs. As a result, your social media presence has an effect on your SERP visibility.
To be sure, the majority of social links in SERPs occur for branded search phrases, but this should not be overlooked. If we want to consider marketing in the digital age as a more holistic process, we must ensure that your branded search phrases result in high click-through rates from search.
Have you ever been perplexed by a company’s or an individual’s lack of social presence? This is especially true for newer firms or names that aren’t household names. In today’s environment, when follower counts, likes, and shares have a significant impact on authority, the fact that social media results appear in branded searches should not be overlooked, not just in terms of SERP click-through rates but also future conversions.
According to our findings, there are some significant issues related to search engines incorporating social indicators as a primary ranking component. These include limited access for robots to explore the platforms and so comprehend social authority, as well as the presence of false profiles or “purchased likes,” which are likely to be treated similarly to paid links.
In short, there is now too much room for these measures to be manipulated for search engines to rely on them. Is this going to change in the future?
Given that Google and Facebook are two of the world’s largest firms vying for our attention, we don’t see them linking hands, opening their doors, and singing Kumbaya around a campfire anytime soon.
Social media has its own benefits
It’s debatable whether Google or Bing include social indicators as direct ranking considerations. Social media and SEO should collaborate by exchanging content and using engagement metrics to inform future content creation.
Let us not forget that businesses can gain from revenue produced directly through social media, regardless of its impact on search rankings. Social media initiatives should be primarily concerned with generating their own success, with SEO as a secondary (but still vital) issue.
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