What factors can help your business rank? Does posting a link on Twitter help your business appear higher in Google? Does being active on Facebook increase visibility on Google? Lists and lists of unanswered questions boil down to one simple uncertainty: does social media improve SEO? I’ve taken a look into dispelling The SEO Social Media Myth. 

SEO is extremely important for businesses, directly impacting where your business appears in a Google search. You can read more about the basics of strengthening your SEO here. This blog will look at how social media affects SEO, and how companies can use this to improve their digital presence.

Dispelling the SEO social media myth:

man with his head in the sand

Reports on SEO have changed over recent years, with mixed messages stating that social media does improve SEO, to Google later revealing it doesn’t, to the announcement that some parts of social do influence SEO rankings, leaving Marketing Execs confused (and rightly so!).

Dating back to 2010, Danny Sullivan’s interview with Google and Bing for ‘Search Engine Watch’ confirmed that Google doesn’t rank its search algorithm by the number of times a link has been retweeted. Shortly afterwards, Bing contradicted this:

“We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.”

Throughout the interview, Google mentioned that it 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.”

With social media influence on SEO so uncertain, how can users improve their SEO with social media?

The truth is out there

Social media pages rank in Google. While the social shares may not affect the way the company website appears in Google, social profiles themselves appear in a Google search.

Take, for instance, John Lewis. When performing a Google search for “John Lewis”, their Twitter page ranks third. The company website came first, then the latest news article related to the company, followed by the company’s official Twitter page.

Fed-Ex Twitter

With new updates from Google, Twitter links how appear as a carousel advert, meaning users can flick through the latest tweets posted from the account.

Social media channels are often seen as the “personality” of a company or business. Consumers will search, follow and share a brand’s social pages to find out more, complain, and keep abreast of what is happening online with regards to sales, promotions and events. With social media pages ranking so highly in a direct social search, it is extremely likely that users searching for a company will encounter its social channels before they preview the website itself.

John Lewis Google screenshot

With official social media channels being shown and directly linked to in the Google Knowledge Graph (see the image shown, taken from the Google search), your social media pages themselves have clear SEO relevancy. The SEO strength of your social media pages should therefore be a vital part of your SEO strategy.

Make the most of this by:

  • Ensuring social media pages are SEO friendly.
  • Optimising images and bios within company guidelines.
  • Promoting consistent branding.
  • Giving thought to keyword use.

 

Social media channels are search engines too

Ask any social media user how they research a subject, and nine times out of ten their responses will be directly linked to social media:

  • In 2010, Twitter reported that it handed 19 billion search queries a month (that’s more than 5x the queries that Bing receives!).
  • In 2012, Facebook said it got around 1 billion search queries per day.
  • From March 2010, YouTube generates 3.7 billion search queries a month. Taking on board that 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

The subject made me think about my own search habits. Take travel, for instance. Whenever I travel anywhere, I take to Instagram to search for hashtags relating to that continent, country and city.

Social media is current, active and most of all people-based. Using social media I can find out everything I need to know, from hotel reviews, to new promotions, to contact details when my bag goes missing and I’m stranded in France without a change of clothes. (Don’t ask.)

Google knows how valuable this information is. As a result, if Google can see that your blog or website is a credible source, it will rank your page accordingly. Linking back to these from your social media, the benefits are twofold.

Social SEO: the verdict

Currently social media doesn’t appear to directly affect SEO, but it does indirectly. Having active social channels that generate strong engagement, and encourage followers to visit your company’s website through the use of blogs or promotions, works collaboratively to generate business and SEO results from the use of social media.

According to Moz’s ranking factors it appears that there is a correlation between the number of social shares and positive rankings. Social media might not directly influence your website’s SEO, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t use social media to improve the strength and visibility of your main website. By sharing links across social pages, there is a higher chance your website could be ‘backlinked’ by other social media users, therefore influencing and affecting Google rankings. 

What’s your social strategy, and what are you doing to improve this?

Find out how Zest can improve your company’s digital presence with a strong social campaign. Call us today on +44 (0)1865 684999 or contact us online.