Companies and agencies alike place on social media when thinking about their SEO strategy.
In 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts (now with the US Digital Service) released a video saying that social signals––metrics such as Facebook likes and Twitter followers, which indicate a profile’s authority and influence––do not affect search rankings. This statement threw marketers for a loop; they had been operating under the assumption (understandably so––more on that below) that social signals were factored into Google’s search algorithm as an indication of trustworthiness and quality. Yet the results seem to show that while social might not be a direct factor, it certainly influences your SEO rank.
A 2018 study by Hootsuite tested the SEO results of articles with and without social promotion. Their results? Pieces with top social shares received an average 22% boost during the duration of the experiment.
Things to Think About When Considering The Impact of Social on SEO
Social Links May or May Not Boost Your Search Rank
social signals pertaining to a profile’s authority are out, but does Google consider links published on social accounts to be credible backlinks? When a blog post goes viral on Twitter, do those new links boost the post’s search ranking?
While Cutts’ 2014 video is crystal-clear about the absence of social signals from the search algorithm. But he does say that Google crawls social websites for data in the same way that it would any other site: “Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it then we can return that in our search results. “
So, while the authority of a social account doesn’t impact search rank, links published on social media could be marked as credible back-links and thus influence a page’s rank.
Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engines
While social shares may or may not affect a web page’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names.
Social channels can feel more personal than web pages, and they’re a great way to get a sense of a company’s personality off the bat. When I’m researching a company I don’t know much about I typically go straight to their Twitter or Facebook page.
So if a social account shows up at the top of the search results, I’m just as likely to click on it as I would be to click on their website.
Social Media Channels Are Search Engines, Too
Nowadays, people don’t just go to Google and Bing to look stuff up; they also use social media channels to find what they’re looking for. Patel makes this point in his article on why social is the new SEO: “We need to understand that search engine optimization includes the search that happens on social media search engines.”
This works in a couple of ways: First, if you’re active on Twitter, it’s entirely possible that people will discover your company’s new content distribution app after searching for content marketing-related tweets with Twitter’s search engine.
Likewise, brands that lend themselves to beautiful visual content can benefit from making their content visible in Pinterest and Instagram by using hashtags and properly categorizing their pins.
Not Now Doesn’t Mean Not Ever
Just because Google says that social signals don’t currently impact search rank doesn’t mean they never will. Social media shows no sign of becoming a less important part of a brand or person’s online presence anytime soon.
Moreover, recent research, like the study conducted by Hootsuite, shows that search engines at least take it into account as they look for signals of authority and value.
Don’t Forget Bing
Google may have back-tracked and changed its stance on social signals, but Bing has always been open about using social media signals.
In their very own webmaster guidelines, Bing states: Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results… [t]hese positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.
This is a summary. Read the full article HERE.