Does Social Media Affect SEO?
A lot of factors can influence your SEO strategy but should social media be one of them? There has been a lot of debate around this in recent years, ever since Google confirmed that they don’t use social signals as a ranking factor.
But does that mean that social media has no bearing on SEO whatsoever?
Do Social Signals Affect Search Ranking?
Google have been adamant that they don’t use social signals as a ranking factor.
Back in 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed that they treat Twitter and Facebook posts just the same as any other web page and don’t place any particular emphasis on them. In other words, they don’t get any special treatment when it comes to SEO.
Bing see things slightly differently and have previously said that they do look at user engagement as a ranking factor and unlike Google, social signals do make a difference to them.
They have said in the past that they use social shares to decide if a particular page is considered popular by others and has “social influence”. A good number of shares can tick this box, for example. In the short term you may not see an obvious difference but in the longer term, there may be an effect on your organic rankings.
Does Social Media Have Any Effect on SEO?
Social media profiles do show up in search engine results, especially for brand names. Google Plus is the obvious one but you’ll often see Twitter and Facebook profiles on the first page of results if you search for brands.
Add in the fact that content often gets a ranking boost after doing well on social media, it’s not surprising that there is still a lot of confusion about the relationship between social media and search rankings.
Despite Google saying that they don’t look at social signals, there is still some belief that any content that gets shared fairly widely on social media and then gets a ranking boost achieves this solely because of its popularity on social media.
In reality, this is more likely to be a byproduct of the fact that great, quality content tends to be shared a lot and this often leads to backlinks. These links definitely are a big ranking factor, whereas social media shares seem not to be any prominent influence on SEO.
That doesn’t mean that social media and SEO don’t have any correlation though as there can be an indirect connection between them.
The main benefit of social media is the potential exposure that it gives your content.
The more people that you can reach, the better your chances of getting backlinks to content. This can be huge in terms of improving your SEO.
The key is to create a consistent stream of high quality content that is awesome enough to be shared a lot and gain traction from backlinks. You’ll probably find that these type of content is also popular on social media but this is a bonus rather than your ultimate goal.
Should You Include Social Media in Your SEO Strategy?
Social media doesn’t have a direct effect on SEO but there are still some reasons to include it in your SEO strategy.
People don’t just use search engines to find information; a lot of people look things up on social media. When you’re thinking about your SEO strategy, you’re going to want to think about how people search on social media as well as the more traditional search engine queries.
Building a strong profile and good visibility on social media is always a good idea to encourage more backlinks that will have an effect on SEO.
Making the effort to do this via high quality content that really resonates with your target audience, building connections with key influencers in your niche, getting involved in social media communities and taking some time to interact with content from other people can all be invaluable for getting the kind of social authority that can have a knock on effect for SEO.
And if you do get a spike in your traffic from sharing content on social media, you’ll need a strategy to take advantage of it. Otherwise, it will just be a temporary rise in traffic that doesn’t do a lot for your search ranking.