Despite being discussed numerous times there still seems to be confusion over social media’s connection with search rankings and SEO.
In 2010 Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s webspam team said that Google did use links from Facebook and Twitter as ranking signals. But, just four years later he changed his mind, claiming these social media pages were treated like any other web page for search, but not as a ranking factor. It's been a while since then, and there's no real way to know for sure, but let's take these latest comments to be true and say social media isn’t currently considered a ranking factor by Google.
In that case, although social media isn’t a direct ranking factor there are four ways that including social media activity in your marketing efforts can help your performance in search. Let’s take a look at these ideas:
The term “build and they will come” just doesn’t cut it today. To get the best search rankings and website performance you must be proactive and reach people where they are spending their time. Ask yourself “where are the majority of my target audience spending their time online?”, and the answer is likely to be social media.
There are such vast numbers of people using social media that your business has the ability to reach huge volumes of people with relatively little effort. Social media’s global nature makes this possible and is one of the best ways to build your web presence and therefore build an audience.
We know click-through rates, dwell time and bounce rates affect rankings and social media can be a great place to start this process, boosting awareness and therefore increasing the likelihood of people clicking on your business when doing Google search. The bigger your brand and the more people who trust it the better your chances of obtaining these vital clicks.
When people run a Google search of your brand name and a keyword, it increases your chances of ranking for similar keywords. Social media offers you the opportunity to get those keywords in the minds of your customers and possible searches.
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Instagram doesn’t have a very good linking procedure, but is a super effective way of building a following and audience. Sharing content that appeals to an Instagram audience will increase the chances of them searching for you in Google and including a keyword to be sure they find you. Small independent fashion and beauty brands have mastered this!
The more quality content you share over social, the more people are likely to see it and hopefully like it. Those who do ‘like’ your updates increase your opportunity of getting that content seen by a new audience, therefore increasing your social engagement and brand awareness. Regardless of the social network, creating great quality content that gains traction is what you need to aim for. This will increase the likelihood of people sharing your website links to other sites and blogs. These backlinks will result in improved ranking.
When we think of search engines we almost certainly think of Google or Bing and forget about the others. Did you know that YouTube is the second most-searched search engine and a great source of SEO benefits? Create video content that promotes you, your content and your brand should aim to include links back to more information or content on your site. These links for more information or similar content will drive traffic from an audience you may not have been reaching.
Be sure to include enough info in the video though, the video might even rank in the SERPS as a stand-alone piece. Use your other social channels to boost the video content and encourage sharing among the community.
The key takeaway is that social media might not directly affect your search engine rankings it can be a great way to promote content, boost brand awareness and increase the number of people who will look for you. Improving your chances of being found online is what SEO is all about after all.
If you would like help improving your SEO strategy or planning your social media activity then get it touch, here.
by Neal Dyer, 2 minute read
by Neil Edwards, 3 minute read