There is no denying that social media and SEO has changed the world in a number of ways. Gone are the days when it was perceived as a preserve of teens and young adults who were eager to share photos and connect with strangers across the globe. Not only this, but it has also had a huge impact on how businesses advertise their products and services online. Currently, it is nearly impossible to find a serious business without any kind of presence in social media sites. Marketing experts are also keen to tap on the platforms as a way of increasing reach and getting more clients and sales.
Search engine optimization may not be an entirely new phenomenon like social media. However, how it intermarries with social media to get traffic and sales for businesses is something every marketer and business owner should be concerned about. Search engine optimization is never static, and an algorithm change by the Big G is certain to influence how subsequent optimization will be done. A lot has been postulated about the influence social media may or may not have on search engine optimization. For some time, it was believed that having a robust following on the social media platforms would have an impact on one’s site in the search engines, especially in Google.
This belief arose from the fact that big search engines like Google factored in social signals as part of their ranking metrics. As such, it implies that a site with lots of social signals such as likes, comments, and shares would rank better on the search engines compared to a site that had few or no social signals. The theory behind this was that the search engines are more concerned about the quality of the content as well as the user experience.
It was, therefore, construed that if a site had so many social signals, then maybe they provided a lot of good content and great user experience. In the eyes of the search engines, this was a reputable site worth rewarding with higher rankings. But this may not have been true if a video released by Google’s Matt Cutts is anything to go by. According to Matt Cutts, social signals such as likes and followers are not factored into Google’s search algorithms.
The revelation by Matt that such social signals are not relevant as far as search ranking is concerned caused a lot of confusion in the search engine optimization industry. This was after nearly three years of marketers incorporating social media as part of their SEO strategy. Though heartbreaking, it must be noted that socials signals were once considered a ranking metric and several studies showed correlations in ranking between sites with good social signals and those without. It is also important to understand that the search engines improve their search algorithms regularly. As such, they may or may not include certain metrics. They may also stop using some of they may be using at the moment. Therefore, a very fluid approach is necessary when you are trying to use social media and SEO to improve your search rankings.
With that said, there are five important things that every marketer should know about social media and search engine optimization.
1. Social media platforms also are search engines
Google and Bing may be the dominant search engines in the world currently, but this doesn’t mean they are the only places where people do their searches. The social media platforms also are search engines. So many people search for things right on Facebook or Twitter without having to log out. This means that for an all-around approach, search engine optimization must also take into account that searches that happen in the social media search engines. For instance, if you have an active profile for your business on Facebook, it is possible that people may discover the company after searching for content related to the kinds you normally post.
This is also the case when it comes to photo sharing social sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. Brands can create beautiful visual content that will show up when relevant searches are made, and this will without a doubt increase the brand’s visibility. Moreover, it is common nowadays for people to simply search for your brand on social media platforms when they want to know more about you.
It is, therefore, imperative that companies should also think about social searches when coming up with a search engine optimization strategy. It should be a huge concern if you are dealing with local marketing since most clients with such businesses are so keen to check up on the reviews before they make any commitment.
2. Social media profiles can rank in the search engines
Though social signals may not be a ranking factor in the search engines, social profiles can rank in the search engines and can influence the contents of a search result. If you have been keen, you may have probably noticed that social media profiles sometimes dominate the top positions in the search engine result pages for searches relating to brand names. In some instances, Google will also pull up their Google+ page with more detailed information on the right-hand sidebar.
Social media profiles on top of the result pages is a subtle indication is that they mean something to the search engines, and so should never be ignored in an SEO strategy. It means that if you can build a few active profiles in social media, there are very good chances that the profiles may get ranked, and in turn, you will get more exposure to your brand. The fact that your profile shows up high on the search engine result pages can make your brand appear more authoritative, not to mention the amount of traffic you can get from such positions on the search engines.
3. The effects of social links in your search ranks
Though some may not agree, link building still remains a vital component of search engine optimization. Social signals may not be a ranking factor now, but what about the links generated from the social profiles? If you have a post going viral on Facebook, will your website benefit from the links you will be getting from the post, and does Google consider the backlinks from social media profiles strong enough?
Most marketers believe that inbound links to your site from social media accounts do have an impact on the site’s ranking. Though Matt may have said that social signals don’t count in ranking a web page, he did admit that Google bots crawl social sites in the same manner as they do to other web pages. This implies that links from social pages such as Twitter and Facebook may actually be viewed by Google to be authoritative, hence, influence rankings.
But before you think of this as an absolute fact, it should be noted that there is not enough data or research done to support this claim and Google hasn’t come out to confirm or deny the effects of social backlinks on a site’s ranking. But since you have nothing to lose, and with the possibility of posts going viral, you might as well consider getting some good links from the social platforms.
4. Social signals may be considered in the future
Search engines evolve constantly. They are always on the lookout of other signals that signify value and authority. Ranking factors have changed over the years. We have come from days when keyword stuffing was enough to make your website charge to the front page of Google like a mad rhino. However, if you try keyword stuffing now, your website is likely to get sandboxed. Link building strategies such as guest posting were also a hit a few years ago. But currently, they seem less reliable when it comes to gauging the quality of a web page. Google may not be using social signals as a ranking factor at the moment, but this does not mean social signals will never be used for ranking websites. It is likely that social signals will be used in the future, and so every smart marketer should not discard them simply because they are not working at the moment. Besides, other than search engine ranking, there are other benefits that come with having lots of social signals for your business pages or brands. Any sane marketer will not stop working on their social profiles.
5. Bing is also a good search engine
Google may have the lion’s share of internet searches, but this should not make you forget about Bing. Google may not currently be looking at social signals as a ranking factor, but Bing does. According to Bing, the social authority of a user, the number of people following you and the number of people you are following may add a little weight to a page’s ranking. It is, therefore, a fact that the second most used search engine in the world uses social signals as a ranking factor. This should give you the motivation you need to incorporate social media in your SEO strategy, given that Bing’s market share has been on an upward trend in the past few years.