Social media and search engine optimization - what are its advantages and disadvantages? A study in April 2019 shows how the field has changed over the years due to Google's algorithm updates and the rise of content as king.
The importance of social media for both agencies and companies regarding their SEO strategies
In 2014, a study carried out in Matt Cutts, now with Google's US Digital Service, released a video stating that social signals, such as Twitter followers and Facebook likes, do not impact search rankings.
Marketers were thrown for a loop by this statement. They had assumed (understandably) that social signals are incorporated into Google's search algorithm to indicate trustworthiness as well as quality. The results show that social media is a factor in your SEO rank, even though it may not directly affect it.
Hootsuite conducted a 2018 study to compare the SEO results for articles without and with social promotion. These were their results. The average increase in social shares for pieces with the highest number of followers was 22% over the experiment.
In this guide, we will explore the implications of these contradicting views on SEO and social media. We'll also learn how SEO-focused marketers think about social media after removing social signals from the picture.
Let's begin with some background information about SEO and social media conversations over the past few decades.
A little bit of history
Cutts' assertion that Google doesn't consider social signals in determining the rank for a website was a surprise to the online marketing world. Cutts stated that social signals played a role in ranking in a December 2010 video.
You can see why marketers were disappointed and annoyed when Google told them that they don't even look at this stuff three years later.
But, now, many years later, evidence shows that Google uses social media signals to rank. This topic was a hot topic, and I researched it thoroughly. Here are five things that every marketer needs to know about the impact of social media on SEO in 2019.
Five things to consider when you think about the impact of social media on SEO
- Social Media links may or may not boost your search rank
Okay, social signals that relate to the authority of a profile are out. But does Google consider backlinks published on social media accounts to be reliable? Do those links increase the search ranking of a post that goes viral on Twitter?
Cutts' 2014 video is clear about the lack of social signals in the search algorithm. However, he did mention that Google crawls social sites for data the same way as any other site.
Facebook and Twitter pages are manageable like any other page in our web index. If something happens on Twitter or Facebook, we can crawl it and return that information in our search results.
Google has not said anything else about the subject in the years that have followed.
Research suggests that SEO ranks are affected by social media. Optinmonster research published in 2019 confirms the 2018 Hootsuite study: Social popularity improves rankings on Google.
I think this means that, while search rank doesn't affect the authority of social accounts, backlinks published on social media might be considered credible and influence page rank.
Here are some ways to better understand your website's social reach.
Step 1: Go to Ubersuggest and enter your URL. Click "Search"
Step 2: click on the left sidebar on "Top Pages"
Step 3: Examine the Results
We are most interested in the last two columns for the sake of this article. Here you will see the number of social shares on Facebook or Pinterest. As you can see, the top traffic pages have a strong social reach.
Google receives approximately 366,000 visits each month to "Affiliate Marketing Made Simple," for example. Although backlinks are extremely important, they could also be related to social shares. If you are an SEO expert, please comment below with your opinion on the search ranking impact of social sharing.
- Social Profiles Rank in Search Engines
Although social shares can't affect a website's position in search listings, they influence the content of search results. Social profiles often rank among top results when searching for brand names.
When I searched for "General Electric" on Google, my Instagram and Pinterest accounts ranked 5th and 6th, respectively. Twitter was the 8th result.
Get social search results
Social media channels are more personal than web pages and can give you a better idea of the company's character. I often go to the Facebook or Twitter pages of companies I am researching.
If a social account appears at the top of search results, I'm equally likely to click it than I am to click their website.
Google is aware of the importance of your social media profiles, especially for people searching for you online. Your brand's online experience can be made more enjoyable by having a few active social media channels. It is essential to keep your profiles updated and provide engaging content.
- Search engines are also available through social media channels
People don't go to Google or Bing anymore to search for information. They also use social media to find the right thing. Patel's article on why social SEO is essential states that "search engine optimization also includes the search that occurs on social media search engines."
This works in two ways. First, if your company is active on Twitter, people may discover your new content distribution app by searching for content marketing-related tweets using Twitter's search engine.
Brands that can create beautiful visual content will also benefit from using hashtags and correctly categorizing their pins on Pinterest and Instagram.
As mentioned above, people will open Twitter and Facebook to find out more about your company. YouTube can also be used as a search engine.
SEO should be expanded to include social search engines and traditional search engines like Google and Bing.
It's common to see multiple profiles when searching for a brand via Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes it's difficult to tell which one is genuine. Marketers must make it easy for users to identify their official social media profiles.
This could mean that duplicate accounts are deleted, and each social account is clearly labeled so that users know what purpose they serve (e.g., accounts for HR, press, or general brand pages).
- Google doesn't claim that social signals impact search ranking, but it doesn't mean they won't. Social media is not going away.
Recent research, such as the Hootsuite study, has shown that search engines do at least consider it when searching for authority or value signals.
Search rankings will be affected by social signals in the future. Innovative brands will continue to grow their authority on key social channels and consider social when developing their SEO strategy.
- Bing is important!
Google may have reacted and changed its position on social signals, but Bing is open to using social media signals.
Bing has their webmaster guidelines.
Today's search engines rank highly on social media. These positive signals can make a difference in how you rank in long-term organic searches.
The takeaways: Bing was responsible for more than 33% of US searches in 2018 and has been very clear about incorporating social signals into search results. They have not backed down from this issue, unlike Google. Companies would be wise to consider Bing in their SEO strategies, as its market share is steadily increasing.
Google has been arguing about social media. However, Cutts' 2014 claim that Google's search algorithm ignores Social Signals should not be considered the final word.
Instead, marketers should broaden the scope of search and SEO to account for the many ways people find content online. Marketers should also consider the positive effects of increased social traffic on search rankings and the prominence of social profiles in first-page results.
The web is about relationships, building audiences, sharing identity, and encouraging people to share it. SEO best practices are not against the grain.