It seems like everything funnels through social media these days, and SEO should be included in that category. Not only are the two related, but social media actually has a direct impact on search rankings and overall SEO efforts. This can either be a positive or a detriment to your web pages – the choice is yours.
Looking at the Evidence
Before analyzing a few of the ways social media directly impacts search rankings, it’s important to understand one thing: Ranking factors aren’t a perfect science. Google has never – nor will they ever – explained its ‘secret sauce’ or proprietary algorithm. They sometimes release details about what they do and don’t like (as is the case with the recent mobile-friendly update), but they rarely go into detail. Furthermore, any data and opinions industry experts publish are merely assumptions and small snapshots.
The Social Media-Search Rankings Relationship
With that being said, you can learn a lot from studying the numbers and playing around with various elements, features, and strategies. According to Searchmetrics 2014 Ranking-Factors, there are dozens of different social media components tied to the search rankings. The trick is determining which impact your rankings. If you’re like most, the following elements are most important:
- Shared links. If you study the Searchmetrics graphic, you’ll noticed that seven of the top 11 ranking factors are social in nature. Aside from Google +1’s (which will be discussed momentarily), Facebook shares are the single most important social factor. This is a direct result of how sharing increases the visibility of a page. This enhanced visibility means other bloggers, website owners, authors, and journalists are more prone to mention the article or post and backlink to one of your pages. “It’s not the actual social activity that matters,” writes internet marketing specialist, AJ Kohn, “but what happens as a result of that activity.”
- Google+. As alluded to, Google +1’s are the top social media factor (and third overall behind only CTR and relevant terms). This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as it’s in Google’s best interest to make its own social media platform relevant. For anyone in your Google+ circle, posts with relevant phrases and keywords rank immediately. This is why it’s absolutely critical to build up your account and focus on relevant titles. Furthermore, you can actually enhance your presence in search rankings by getting followers to +1 your articles (subsequently allowing your content to show up in their circle).
- User interaction signals. Google pays a lot of attention to how users interact with your pages. They understand how long users stay on the page, whether they bounce after a couple of seconds, what they do while on the page, and everything in between. Tweets, social comments, +1’s, and likes are all indications that your page is relevant, informative, and engaging. In summary, a page that social users are more likely to share with friends and followers is a page that’s much likelier to rank in the search engines.
- Social profiles. While your ultimate goal may be to improve your website’s search ranking, it’s helpful to build some authority for your social profiles. When conducting a branded search, users are often presented with links to your social profiles on page one. While this may not send traffic directly to your website or blog, it will allow you to claim more SERP real estate and enhance brand exposure.
- Value in tweets. According to a study by Branded3, there is actually a strong correlation between tweets and higher search rankings for the URL mentioned in the tweet. However, the key here is that the value really only comes into play when you get thousands of retweets. Anything below 1,000 retweets provides a very minimal and temporary boost. When the number ranges between 1,000 and 7,500, a significant boost is noticed (especially for anything above 5,000). When there are more than 7,500 tweets pointing to a URL, the page almost always ranks within the top five SERPs.
Investing in Social Media
In the end, a lot of the benefits are indirect. Over time, an investment in social media will pay off by enhancing your overall brand awareness and driving organic traffic – which the search engines notice and reward. While the ultimate goal of your social media endeavors may not be to improve your search rankings, it’s nice to know that it’s a very real byproduct.
Latest posts by Samuel Edwards (see all)
- 6 SEO Mistakes Amateur Bloggers Frequently Make - March 22, 2016
- Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Pages for SEO? - January 22, 2016
- 3 Tips for Creating More Effective Online Ads - January 14, 2016
- The Importance Of Placement: SEO And Site Format - January 6, 2016
- 3 Must-Track Website Metrics For Every Business - December 8, 2015