As part of my job, I often conduct website evaluations for individuals who attend our Learn at Northwoods workshops. During these evaluations, I examine various aspects of the targeted website, including the site’s information architecture, on-page SEO, and general usability features.
At the end of the evaluation, during the Q&A session, I often get asked some version of the question “How does social media relate to SEO?”
The reality is, though, there is no clear-cut answer, or, at least, no clear answer right now. Like most things in the digital marketing space, the relationship between SEO and social media is ever-changing.
Last January, for example, Google announced that signals from popular social networks (like Facebook and Twitter) do not impact search results.
More recently however, information about a new deal between Google and Twitter leaked, which will now place tweets on SERPs (search engine result pages) in real-time. While the final details about this arrangement have not been announced, it’s very likely that Tweets will start impacting search results in a very real way.
Even without the new Twitter arrangement, though, there are some very simple, but real, ways that your social media efforts can positively impact your SEO.
- Quality Inbound Links: The number of quality inbound links to your site is an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Creating content that gets shared by others both socially and through links on other content (like blog posts) can positively boost your SEO as well as your overall brand recognition.
- Local Ties: One of the most valuable aspects of social media promotion (especially if you use paid, promoted posts) is your ability to target your content to a specific geographical region, either by paying for targeted posts or by contributing to a location-specific conversation using region-specific hashtags or by interacting with local events or leaders. Local targeting is likely to become increasingly important during the next few years as smartphones, with built in GPS tracking, continue to rise in popularity.
- It’s not all about Google: Yes, Google is the considered THE authority in search. However, after years of a near monopoly, competitors are starting to take back some ground from the giant. For example, according to recent data, Google accounted for less than 75% of U.S. search traffic for the the first time ever last month. Bing, which is now the second most-popular search engine, DOES use social media signals as part of its ranking algorithm. As a result, building up a robust social presence can positively impact your search results for visitors who don’t use Google.
While the relationship between social media and SEO remains murky, the fact remains that they are two intertwined tactics that should remain important parts of your marketing playbook.