Social media is about so much more than just attractive pictures and recycled memes — without adequate consideration, social media can either help or hurt your SEO efforts in the long-term.
Google and other search engines will continue to deny their search algorithm factors put any serious weight on social media.
However, there is a lot of correlating data which suggests they influence one another.
There are several schools of opposing thought surrounding how much social media affects SEO. The two affect one another both directly and indirectly with specific impacts on content marketing and local SEO.
These social platforms speak to the masses, and they must be taken seriously when it comes to optimizing your brand online.
Social Media – The New Standard for Businesses
Social media has become an integral part of our lives as well as one of the primary ways people interact with the world’s largest brands.
The rise of the Internet has birthed a number of various ways to connect — most commonly through written blogs, online forums, visual media sharing sites and social media.
At this point with social media nearing peak saturation across the web, the number of social media profiles brands can leverage is huge.
From business-focused platforms like LinkedIn to procrastination-inducing sites like Reddit, everyone can find a number of communities that speak to their interests and philosophies. The Internet has given the world a new method to connect through the many varieties of social media.
Social media has given large and small businesses a way to connect with their audiences beyond selling products or promoting their services. For many companies, social media has become an effective outlet for public relations.
Take for example the disturbing trend of late 2017 where teenagers would film themselves eating Tide detergent pods and post to social media.
To address the viral trend, Tide sent out several tweets discussing the risks of consuming their product with just a hint of humor behind them.
Only things that should be on today’s menu: nachos, wings and plenty of team spirit. Save your Tide PODS® for the stains later.
— Tide (@tide) February 4, 2018
What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else.
— Tide (@tide) January 12, 2018
Living in a connected world has become second nature for smartphone users. Up until now, we’ve known how important social media has become, but less about its impact on other marketing channels like organic search.
The Link Between SEO & Social Media
In large part, Google has said that it does not factor social media data into its algorithm for search results. However, many SEOs posit that the more your brand name or keyword shows up across the Internet, it will influence the algorithm to rank higher.
When it comes to judging how Google values links on social media, the answer is quite complicated. We only have these two videos from Matt Cutts at Google, which are from 2009 and 2014 respectively.
Between all the back and forth, we come back to the “correlation does not mean causation” argument.
Your social shares and profile links don’t provide much value in the way of “link juice,” yet they will ultimately help your SEO efforts in other ways.
Here’s a look at a few ways SEO and social media influence one another.
Increase Link Awareness
Generally, sharing your links on social won’t bring you higher rankings, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t increase awareness for your content.
Think of it this way: Google doesn’t necessarily value links from social media, but real people will.
The more people clicking on a link to your content means a stronger likelihood for them to share it on their profiles or potentially their websites.
Click through rates from the SERPs are thought to have an impact on your rankings which means:
More clicks = more SEO value
A common question that comes up is whether the same logic can be applied to referral traffic generated from social media.
It is unclear whether increased social traffic is calculated by search engines since there is little data which supports this idea. Increased social traffic should instead suggest something more insightful about the quality of content being shared.
Increasing Brand Awareness, Credibility
The more active your business is on social media, the higher chances you have of engaging with new users and potential customers.
Being active on social media should naturally accrue more brand mentions. Increased mentions can, in turn, have a positive impact on how search engines perceive the value and trustworthiness of your brand.
The more people see your brand as an authoritative voice, the higher the chance of them clicking when they come across your content.
With any business profile, you can grow an audience on social platforms and establish your brand as an authority within any industry or category relevant to your business. Consistent activity on social media provides a signal to search engines and users that your brand is a credible source for your services or goods.
Natural Distribution Method for Your Content
Social media is a natural vehicle for sharing your content and pushing it out into the world.
With so many marketers in agreement about the vital role content plays in a broader SEO strategy, the best content in the world is useless if no one consumes it.
Along with email, sharing original content via social media is a primary method of distribution for most businesses. When more people like and share a brand’s original content, this positive feedback proves how valuable a piece is or how it’s resonating with followers.
Content which performs well on social media should also mean it is good content for users in the search engines. But many still debate over whether social traffic, shares, and engagement have any sort of impact in search algorithms.
Another critical aspect of content distribution is whether a site is scoring new backlinks from external, non-social media websites.
Google and SEO professionals all state backlinks have a tremendous influence on a website’s SEO performance.
Proper content distribution aims to drive traffic while also increasing the chances other sites provide backlinks without needing a dedicated link building outreach campaign.
Increasing In-Person and Web Traffic
For brands concerned with local exposure, social media offers an important way to optimize for local SEO.
When examining a brand’s local SEO profile, social media profiles, local business directories, and customer review aggregators provide contextual information about these businesses to search engines.
Most often, search engines try to make sure that certain information across the web is consistent when trying to deliver results for local queries.
What is this information exactly?
Many SEOs refer to this as NAP consistency –
P hone number
In addition to checking NAP data consistency across the web, search engines also check for things related to links, domains, languages, boilerplate descriptions, relevant industries, services, etc.
In many cases, businesses don’t have the resources or tools to manage every single local listing. At a minimum though, businesses should revisit every social profile they have access to and ensure their NAP information is locked down.
When optimized, social profiles have the power to direct foot traffic to your physical location and traffic to your website.
The more often your address is listed online, the more likely it will show up in the map results and Knowledge Graph for local keywords.
Local Pack Results
By creating and claiming multiple profiles pointing toward your permanent location and phone number, this will increase your business’s rankings within local search results for both your website and social profiles.
SEO and Social Media in Tandem
Because of the benefits, there’s little reason why marketers shouldn’t be using social media and SEO to complement one another. With a rise in the prominence of voice search, optimizing your local footprint and creating valuable content with users in mind will be just as important in the future as it is now.
Tips for Maintaining Social Profiles
- Define your target audience and communicate with them. This establishes your brand within your category as an authority and targets those who would already have had an interest in what you have to offer instead of spending time trying to reach everyone.
- Consider subscribing to third-party software — we recommend something like Agorapulse or Buffer — to manage all accounts in one platform. This will save you hours of time because it will syndicate all of your posts into one place and even schedule them out ahead of time, so you only have to put attention towards it when you have the time to do so. This will help immensely with content distribution if you’re planning on creating new content anytime soon.
- Set up profiles so that your brand voice isn’t confusing between the platforms. Messaging consistency is a huge concept to keep in mind not just on social media, but anywhere else someone will have an interaction with your brand. Establish a brand voice and rules for how to post on each platform. People gravitate towards different platforms for their own reasons, so learn to speak the language.
- Don’t just focus on promoting your goods or services – promote the whole business (employees, functions, etc.). People want to engage with your brand – especially if you aren’t constantly trying to sell them on something. Fun pictures of the people behind the scenes give a human face to any brand.
- Get your local NAP straight. If your business name, address, and phone numbers are not consistent across wherever your business is listed, you aren’t doing yourself any favors in the eyes of the search engines. Besides, this is another opportunity to ensure new users have a consistent experience if they want to learn more about your brand or if they want to visit your location in-person.
- Take advantage of both free and paid content distribution. Every original piece of content your business generates should be pushed out across all of your social media profiles. But as social media is slowly moving towards a “pay-to-play” model, don’t be afraid to invest a few dollars in promoting your best pieces of content.
With close to three billion social users around the world, social media has become a necessary tool.
Social media won’t provide a dramatic boost to your organic rankings, but it’s important on its own and indirectly helps you with SEO. Ultimately, social platforms should be viewed as a supplementary device help improve to organic search performance.