How Social Media Can Affect SEO
Social media continues to grow as an online advertising platform for brands, but does social media affect SEO? There has been a long-held debate on the topic of SEO and social media.
Let’s be honest; the methodology is constantly changing regarding the analytics in social media. You can have thousands of followers, but the visibility of your posts may be negligible unless you’re paying to boost your posts or paying for ads. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming, leaving you to wonder if you need to do it at all.
If you’re looking for a quick answer to the question does social media affect SEO, the response is yes. Social media does contribute to SEO, but it’s not a direct effect. Social media can help improve SEO performance, but only if you do it right.
Good content published consistently is the foundation of any SEO strategy. You want to ensure that the content you’re posting is quality information that your prospective customer or client will find helpful. Publishing cute cat videos won’t establish you as an expert in your field.
You want to focus on more than just getting likes and shares; you want to leverage your SEO.
Can Social Media Impact Your SEO?
There is an undeniable connection between social media and SEO, but how they influence one another has been up for debate for some time. Let’s look at Google’s take as well as independent studies on the matter.
Even though Google has stated that social media isn’t a direct ranking factor, studies have shown a relationship between the number of shares a post gets and the ranking the link shared has within search results.
In 2010 both Google and Bing came clean about using social signals (such as likes and shares) to help rank pages within their particular results. Things changed in 2014 when Twitter temporarily blocked Google access to the platform. Google’s response to this move was to say that they can’t rely on signals that may not be there tomorrow.
Fast forward to 2018, and social media platforms appear in search engines on a much larger scale. You see an increase in Facebook and Twitter content moving forward from this point.
Google and other search engines have increased the weight that video content has in their rankings. This emphasis on video means that when you’re planning your social media strategy, you want to be sure to include video content in the planning and budget to keep your SEO where you want it to be.
Hootsuite is a company that offers a platform to schedule posts on various social media platforms. In 2018 they conducted a study to see if a correlation between social activity and search engine rankings exists.
For this experiment, the researchers used blog articles. There were 90 blog articles in total. The researchers divided the posts into three groups: the control group, which didn’t receive any organic publishing or paid promotion on social media; group A was organic posts via Twitter; and group B, which used paid advertising. The 30 articles were published to Twitter organically and then boosted for two days, with a budget of $100 each.
Hootsuite’s findings after running this experiment are not surprising if you’ve been doing a lot of work in social media marketing. Both groups A and B performed better than the control group, making sense since groups A and B had their posts shared to a potentially wider audience than the control group.
When you look at the data from the experiment, you’ll see a positive trend line indicating a positive relationship between the number of social engagements and a shift in ranking. You also see no change in the search visibility of the 30 posts in the control group.
When you look at the results for the articles shared organically and the boosted articles, you see that it made a difference to the search visibility of the articles.
The search visibility at the start of the experiment for the articles shared organically on Twitter was 0.20934. At the end of the experiment, the search visibility was 0.23503, a 12% increase. The boosted articles had visibility of 0.24393 at the start, and on completion of the experiment, the search visibility was 0.29823, an increase of 22%
The Hootsuite experiment shows a positive connection between referring domains pointing to a piece of content promoted versus the number of social engagements. When posting on social media, you’ll want to share a link that leads the reader to your website.
Directing social media followers to a website or web page that is already optimized is just one way social media can positively impact SEO.
How Does Social Media Affect SEO?
It’s clear that there is some connection between social media use and SEO performance. Social media can improve your website’s SEO, in part by directing more traffic to your site. Let’s look at how social media impacts SEO:
Social media makes it possible to share your website content on platforms other than search engine results and your website itself. This broadens your opportunity for content distribution, so more people can find and click on your website content.
Let’s say that you write a blog post and share it on social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Whether or not your post ranks well on Google search results, you can still have users from social media click through to read the blog post on your website, driving traffic to your site.
Traffic is a ranking factor, so increased traffic from social media can still help improve your SEO performance.
While social shares may not have a direct impact on SEO rankings, the more people that share your content on social media, the more clicks to your website.
Improves Brand Recognition
Social media also drastically improves brand recognition and helps to cement your online reputation. Social media acts as social proof for many consumers – a company with a solid social media presence will look more legitimate and trustworthy.
On top of that, social profiles often show up in search engine rankings. Google crawls and ranks social profiles. If you search for a business, the first few rankings on Google search may be their website, and then social profiles like you see below.
This means that your business gets more real estate on Google SERPs, improving click through and overall SEO.
Having social media also means that you can gather reviews on those sites, which can further help your business and rankings. Google My Business even pulls reviews from Facebook, showing a direct connection between Google search and social media.
Social media can also improve your local SEO, which is especially important for local businesses as opposed to fully online businesses. As we mentioned above, social media can help garner more online reviews, which can help your local SEO efforts.
Another way that social media improves local SEO is by providing a platform for general citations that include your business’ name, address, and phone number.
Citations are a basic building block of local SEO, as they help establish with Google that your business is real and where it is located. You can use social profiles to accurately share this information, and you can even add keyword rich descriptions to further optimize social profiles.
We started this article by asking the question, does social media help SEO. The conclusion is that SEO and social media, if done right, can positively impact your business bottom line. Social media’s impact on SEO is complicated because it takes more than just having a Facebook or Twitter account. To take advantage of the relationship between social media and SEO, you need to create quality content consistently.
If you’re not sure what your audience is interested in, ask them!
Surveys are a great way to find out what kind of information your followers are interested in. If you want to increase the number of people who complete your survey, create an incentive that you offer to those who complete the survey or make completing the survey an entry for a contest of some sort. Once you know your audience’s interests, you can customize your posts and blog articles.
While some may say that quality content is relative, we’re talking about the content your audience finds valuable. If you’re sharing content that your audience doesn’t find beneficial, the reader isn’t going to like or share it with anyone unless it’s your mom, and she’s doing it because she loves you.
Since we can’t rely on our friends and family to support our social media activities, you want to make sure you’re publishing content that will engage your audience. When you’re able to do this regularly, you’ll see the benefits of your work in your SEO.
Using social media to boost your SEO isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes a well-thought-out strategy and time to do the work before you see any results. Using social media to affect SEO isn’t a one-and-done activity. Social media and SEO need to be a part of your daily business activities if you want to see sustainable results.
If you’re looking for some help making sure that your social media and SEO work together for maximum impact, contact us to schedule a call. Remember, if you want to be at the top of Google search results, you want to trust the job to the company who did it for themselves and other companies.