Social Media & SEO
Stop Trying to Ignore Social Media’s Impact on SEO
You might ask yourself why we’re writing this blog post when the topic has been covered ad nauseum by countless of influential people on countless of influential websites over the past many, many years.
The answer: There are still brands who don’t believe that social media impacts SEO (and because we had to meet our weekly blog quota).
After more than a decade in this industry, hours upon hours of research, and working with numerous brands across the B2B and B2C spaces, we’re not afraid to definitively say that social media can help SEO. An engaged social media following helps you determine relevant content, increases your potential for links, and improves the quality of your website traffic.
The Social Signals
Google says no. Social media does not have any direct impact on rankings. They started saying this in 2014 and haven’t stopped.
Bing says yes.
“Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results.”
When you consider that Google and Bing, together, make up over 87% of search…well, we think you should pay attention to both of them. We’re taking Bing at face value and Google at…not face value. Mainly because Bing is very open about what influences their algorithm and Google is, to put it bluntly, not.
Key Insight: Overall, it’s about correlation not causation. Social media does amplify the ranking factors that are being considered by search engines.
Especially when you take in to account that social networks, themselves, have started appearing in search engines on a much larger scale. Hootsuite has put together some helpful graphs. According to Searchmetrics (check out their whitepaper, it’s good stuff):
“The correlation between social signals and ranking position is extremely high…The top-ranked websites in Google’s rankings displays vastly more social signals than all other pages…This is primarily due to the overlap between brand websites performing strongly in social networks and being allocated top positions by Google.”
THE SOCIAL SIGNALS
Using social media to impact your search ranking is all about the off-page SEO. What are the actions taken outside of your website to impact your website’s trustworthiness and authority? Moz has created a beautiful graphic that breaks down the various off-page SEO factors. They believe that the role of social media in a page’s ability to rank is about 7% of off-page SEO factors. That’s not insignificant.
This graphic just scratches the surface of the social signals so we’re diving in to the “etc.” When building your social media presence, pay attention to these elements that can positively impact SEO:
Social media profiles
Likes, shares and links of your URL
Social Media Profiles
Going back to those graphs that Hootsuite put together, social media profiles do influence search results. And often, they are among the top results for brand searches. No longer do audiences solely rely on a brand’s website. A potential follower or consumer wants to be able to relate to a company and social media profiles give them a sense of the brand’s personality and values.
Likes, Shares and Links
In a nutshell, social shares increase the visibility of your content and the likelihood that people will link back to your website. With the increase of mobile search, we’re not specifically referencing backlinks. But rather, all of the actions that people take to like your link, share your link, visit your link, and, of course, link your link.
Google does take in to account how relevant your content is for a website visitor. Technically, this can also be under user experience. But we pulled it out because of its importance. Ideally, social media will help you determine what your audience finds most relevant and enable you to serve them content that resonates. Because they are already a willing participant in your brand journey, they’ll most likely consume more content and spend more time on your website. It goes without saying, do not create subpar content.
As some of the best SEO companies will tell you, building up a committed and engaged social media audience can help increase clickthrough rate and dwell time and decrease bounce rate. But please, understand that this comes from quality content that delivers what your audience wants. We’re all about staying true to your followers and your brand, not gaming the system. (end soapbox)
Clickthrough rate: percentage of people who click on a link to visit your website
Bounce rate: the metric of people who hit your website just to bounce away again without consuming content
Dwell time: how long a visitor stays on your website after they’ve arrived
To throw a wrench in the entire case we just built, we want to mention that SEO ranking factors are ever-changing, and we’ve focused in on a very specific subset. Following current trends, factors are becoming increasingly personalized and varied across industries and niches. Searchmetrics can tell you more.
As we said at the beginning, this conversation has been ongoing for a quite a while. And we’ve been following it for a number of years. Here’s just a bit of the research we’ve done: