By Ryan O’Connell
The relationship between social media and SEO is a complicated one and has long been debated. Google has officially made it clear that social search signals do not contribute towards ranking factors, which includes elements such as followers, likes and shares; reinforcing the idea that there is in fact no definitive connection between the two. Despite this, online marketing professionals are still able to use social media platforms to enhance search engine visibility in several ways. So the question remains, how exactly does social media impact SEO?
1. Building Inbound Links
Arguably one of the greatest aspects to social media marketing is being able to drive more traffic to your website through external link building, which is a crucial ranking factor in Google search. To put it simply, the more external links you have the more authority Google will grant you and the higher you will rank.
Social media essentially enables you to distribute website content and links to a larger audience, where there is potential to reach hundreds or thousands of untouched users who could share this content even further. In order to succeed at this, you of course have to create high quality and relevant content. However, as Google has stated, the links provided in social posts like tweets or Facebook posts do not directly influence rankings, but the extended reach they produce for your content can result in gaining inbound links from sources that do influence rankings.
2. Social Media Page Ranking
While gaining shares through social media may not influence a website’s ranking in search listings, having a handful of social media channels can prove to be an effective method that enhances a website’s ranking. When an online user performs a search on a business’s name, the search results typically will include the business’s social media profiles. Take us for example, when “Ignite Search” is typed into Google, our LinkedIn profile ranks second within the search.
There are some vast websites out there that do a great job of conveying a business or company’s values and personality, but social media channels tend to naturally provide more characteristics than most web pages. So the more social media pages that are displayed at the top of search listings, the more engaging your brand will be for users.
3. Understand Exactly What Content Captures Your Audience
Content and SEO go together like two peas in a pod, with high quality content being the center point of achieving higher rankings in SERPs. The process of developing good content all starts with keyword research and implementation, which is crucial in helping search engines rank your website. While focusing on aspects such as keywords and keeping content relevant for search engines, it’s also important to create engaging content based on what your website visitors want to read, as developing content without the knowledge of knowing what your audience wants will leave you with minimal traffic.
Social media proves to be a worthy tool in helping you gauge your audience as most social media platforms are equipped with functions that allows online users to respond through comments, react through likes and share content with others.. Social media platforms such as Facebook offer great insights into your pages likes, comments, shares and even the recent reactions option; your audience will most certainly make sure you know how they feel.
The data retrieved from Facebook insights can guide businesses to make more calculative decisions when developing content.
However, don’t forget that just because certain content might receive positive attention on social media, doesn’t mean that it will be popular among search engine results; so ensure you maintain a high level of quality and include relevant keywords.
4. Leverage Local SEO
Google recently reported that 76% of people who conduct a search for something local via their mobile visit a related business within one day, and 28% of these searches end with a purchase. Essentially, geographic location is a major factor in user experience and search engines are most certainly paying attention.
One of the first steps in social media marketing is implementing information about your business profile where necessary, specifically including your address and contact information. This information is indexable content and could potentially support your local rankings.
On top of implementing your location into Google My Business (GMB), Social media websites like Facebook and Yelp also offer the option to display geographic placement and allow users to discuss the business among the online community, making it easy for businesses to leverage locality. The higher amount of users that engage and review your business online, the greater the chance search engines will integrate you into local SERP. However, displaying different geographic information across platforms may negatively affect your SERP ranking, so make sure to maintain and update where necessary the correct information across all platforms!
5. Enhance Brand Awareness
Although this advantage might seem more related to branding over SEO, the influence it has on SEO is still extremely beneficial. Your social media reputation can be enhanced through high quality content and increased engagement, which will improve your overall online brand presence. This online brand presence will result in more branded based searches through Google and other search engines, leading to better rankings for non-branded based keywords. The relationship may seem complex, but it all starts with establishing a solid social media reputation and can result in a larger search visibility across all platforms. There’s really no better way to gain authority other than to entice a quality experience for your audience.
The fact that Google’s search algorithm does not include social signals shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for online marketers to ignore social media’s influence on SEO. Marketers should instead open up to positive impact that increased user traffic from social platforms can have on search engine rankings and the benefit of social media profiles being displaying on first page search results.