Does Social Media Affect SEO?

08 October 2020

It’s 2020 - and as we get closer to the end of this year, we are still no clearer on the ties between social media and search engine optimisation (SEO). At best, it remains vague. But are the two directly related? 

When looking around the web for answers, you will struggle to find a solid answer saying yes or no, all you will get is some clever spin-off or a variety of opinions on this heavily debated question. So, can we help clear this up for you once and for all? 

Is Social Media a ranking factor?

Before we get into it, let’s answer the question. Google has said that social media is not a direct ranking factor

Google crawls and indexes the social media profile pages and views the content and links published on them like a regular page of a website. 

But when it comes to the social signals, Google doesn’t take the number of social media shares or followers a business has into consideration when ranking a website, and if they did, it would be way too easy for anyone to cheat the system, especially when there are a lot of sneaky buying follower tactics. 

Social media shares happen 24/7 and they take place quicker than Google can catch up, making it difficult for Google to crawl and keep track. What we do know is that social media plays an indirect role in helping people find your business in search engines, and that’s all that matters. 

What’s the connection between social media and SEO? 

Search engine optimisation is all about being visible and getting people to organically visit your website. Whereas social media marketing is about getting found by the right people and connecting with your audience. So while they both might seem different, they work together. Have you noticed that search engines are becoming more social, and social networks are now developing into search engines? 

As we said, they work together, so an effective social media strategy has to have a solid SEO plan in place. 

social media supporting seo infographic from life marketing

Reasons why you need to change your social media and SEO game 

Social media content gets indexed

When you’re posting the right type of social media content regularly, it is going to make a huge difference to your content marketing campaign as a whole, and when you find out that social media posts can get crawled and indexed, things get a little better.

Now, this doesn’t mean that every single Facebook post is going to make its way to Google’s index, it has to be relevant enough so that they can be found when people search for similar content. For example, when you search for a celebrity you will usually find their social media pages within the top 10 results. Why? Because it's relevant to the search query.

Even better again is that social media can help you get your website’s content indexed faster, and this is due to how search engines treat your social media content. If you post a blog post on your social media account that gets a lot of attention, that post will likely end up getting indexed at a quicker pace. CognitiveSEO and HootSuite have put some research behind these claims. Essentially, a viral post on social media will have an impact on SERPs. 

Social media is all about people 

In the past, it was possible to use certain ‘black hat’ and other unethical technical SEO tactics to boost performance, but they always failed to give the long-term results because they take the user out of the equation. Nowadays, the best way to rank higher involves a combination of technical SEO, quality link building and on-page SEO to provide the most informative and useful content to users.

SEO needs to have a human element to get real-world results and if your SEO strategy doesn’t have that, it will get beaten by someone who took the time to create valuable content. Social media is only continuing to grow and is one of the fastest ways to get to know your audience, which is why it’s now becoming an unavoidable part of SEO. 

You know where your content is, who is consuming and sharing it, and the impact that it’s having on your target market, which is pretty huge in terms of SEO. 

Social media builds authority

Search engines now put a lot of emphasis on website authority, if your page has high domain authority it will outrank those sites with lower domain authority, another critical factor in SEO. 

Authority grows over time and if your site pushes out high quality and valuable content regularly you will gain backlinks, your authority will keep growing and it demonstrates a positive vote of confidence to your site which is something Google takes into consideration when ranking your site. 

Link-building was completely different when social media didn't exist, and we now can’t ignore the impact of social media when talking about backlinks because a huge amount of content on a website is distributed by social media every single day. 

When working on your social media strategy, you want to build an engaged network of social media followers - remember it’s quality over quantity every single time - as this will give your content a more relevant place to live. And the more relevant places it lives, the authority you have will grow. 

An example is if you create content about home interior tips, and it’s shared on a home interior blog Google will recognise that you’re posting content reaching a relevant audience. 

How does social media help SEO?

Now that you know it isn’t a direct ranking factor, here are a few ways in which social media does help your SEO efforts: 

Link Potential 

Backlinks are an important SEO ranking factor. Both the quality and quantity of your backlinks have a huge impact on how your site ranks. 

backlino graph for backlinks

Research from Baclinko shows the importance of referring domains as a ranking factor.

When you focus your efforts on better social media marketing, you have the opportunity to attract the right type of backlink opportunities. The more shares you have on social, the more opportunities people have to see your content and link to it. Here’s a case study showing how a company was able to achieve 130k plus social shares to a webpage that then ranked for pretty competitive keyword phrases. 

This case study not only shows you some amazing results, it’s a good example of content creation and promotion strategies. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Pinterest or Facebook if it’s good quality - you’ll get the links! 

Branded Searches

Working on growing your audience and building a strong band is a huge part of any online marketing efforts. Your social media pages are there to help build relationships with the desired audience, and with constant social media updates filled with quality and relevant content, you will be recognised. 

When social media marketing is done right, you can grow your brand awareness and when people become more aware of who you are and what it is you do, you will find more people clicking on your content in SERPs. Since search engines also give a huge amount of importance to click-through rates, this can significantly improve your rankings and visibility on SERPs. 

When people are aware of your brand, this means the bounce rate is likely to be lower also and lowering this will give you a competitive advantage. 

Build Your Audience 

Even if you have the most amazing, life-changing product - if people don’t know about it, then what’s the point? You have to be proactive these days, make it more convenient for your customers to find you. Where are most of these people we hear you ask? Social media! More people sign up to social media platforms every single day, so if you want to be found among the millions of other sites on the web with great products and services, you need to work on your social game. Read more about which social platform is best for your business

Promotion Efforts 

Youtube is now the second-largest search engine behind Google and video content has been soaring in popularity for years now. However, the problem with Youtube is that their search queries have low commercial intent, whereas Google is your chance to bring in the converting customers. 

Youtube can positively influence your SEO performance and is your chance to create videos to promote your brand and content which can lead to links, and we are now seeing the rise of Youtube videos appearing organically in search results. 

You can use social media platforms to promote your content and acquire high-quality backlinks in the process, however, your audience must be on social media and care about the content you’re posting.

Local searches 

Are you a small/medium-sized business with a physical address? Do not ignore the power of local search. Google places importance on geography and the relevance it has for giving people a better user experience.

Here's an example of the Clements Coffee Shop Facebook page appearing in local search for 'coffee shops Belfast'

local search for belfast coffee shops facebook page indexed

Internet users are always searching for a local business on their mobile devices, so make sure your profile is kept up to date with a phone number, address etc and keep it consistent with the information on your website. 

Social Media for SEO Best Practices

Here are some social media for SEO best practices that you can incorporate into your online marketing efforts. 

Optimise your social media profiles

Potential clients are guaranteed to examine your social media profiles before getting involved with your business, which is why you need to give them a good feel for who you are and what you do.  

You need to look at your profiles and ask yourself how compelling are they? Do they have everything a potential client is looking for? Is your bio relevant to the business, while still being interesting enough to attract the desired attention? What returns when people search for the business name on Google? 

If you’re using multiple social media sites, you need to have a consistent image across all of them which makes for better brand recognition. You also want to include a link to your website. 

Content - Quality vs Quantity 

Search marketing isn’t what it used to be, as Google Bots and search algorithms have evolved to better understand user intent and the relevance and quality of content out there. This then allows Google to return the most relevant content based on a search query. 

We no longer employ keyword stuffing tactics as quality content is king, which is why your blog should be filled with well researched, quality content and in turn, it will perform well on social media and SEO.

Don’t rush to produce content for the sake of keeping in line with a schedule, take your time to repurpose old content and do in-depth research into what your ideal readers want to know. Content drives social media, and you can’t have a successful social media marketing strategy without quality content. 

Content needs to be easy to share

Marketers use social media to help reach their desired consumers, and in turn, this helps them to reach more people, grow their brand awareness and generate leads. But if your message isn’t easy to share, how can you get your message out? 

To make your content easy to share, make it helpful, entertaining and enticing enough to have your audience talk about it. Motivate people to share your content by calls to actions and social share buttons on a blog page. 

Engaging with your customers

Working on your social media and SEO isn’t a set it and forget about its strategy, you want to ensure you can get the maximum SEO benefits from your social media presence. One of the best ways to do this is to be present and increase engagement on your social accounts to build relationships. From doing this, you will better understand your target customers and what their needs are. 

If you know exactly what your buyers are looking for and understand their needs, it becomes easier for them to engage with your content. Don’t wait for them to come to you, strike up a conversation with your audience. 

Do this by asking questions about your latest blog post, responding to user comments or using social polls to find out what they want to see more of on your social media platforms. 

Discussions are essential for improving your SEO because if you offer useful information to your target market, you will establish yourself as an expert in the industry. You will then grow your following, increase engagement and improve those other social signals that Google considers when ranking your site. 

Optimising images for SEO and social media

Visuals are essential for marketing communications, as they help develop your brand’s tone and adding images into blogs and social posts are one of the most efficient ways to transmit information. But most people are ignorant of the role images play in search engine optimisation. They can have a strong impact on helping drive organic traffic to your site - if you optimise them correctly. 

Here is how to optimise images for SEO: 

  • Use an appropriate file name for your image - add keywords separated by dashes and don’t use the given filename from a stock website or a camera. 
  • Image format - set the correct size format, if you don’t it can affect your page speed. 
  • Add keywords into alt text and title tags - don’t keyword stuff, be descriptive and remember that alt text is used mainly by those with visual impairments. 
  • Remember that different social sites need different image sizing formats, keep this in mind when putting similar content across your social media platforms. 

Well, that’s it! Now you have an answer to the all-important SEO and social media debate and are clear on how they work together. If you would like some help with both your social media and SEO marketing efforts, get in touch with Loudmouth’s team of experts today.