SEO and social media are largely two very distinct and diverse marketing mediums; however, this does not stop many people from believing that social media has a bearing on search engine optimisation. Is there any truth in this?

Only last week a new client asked why their website was failing to appear on the first page of Google even though they had created multiple social media profile pages, and even generated some engagement. They had social media profile pages with links pointing to their website, but these seemed to have no effect on their search engine positions. This is not unexpected, because social media really does not have any major impact on Google’s search engine. However, that is not to say that it is not useful.

How Does Social Help SEO?

Social media can help your SEO campaign in several ways. Essentially, where businesses used to talk to one another, they are now more likely to connect through social, and these connections can lead to links which will aid your SEO campaign. So, let’s take a deeper look into this topic and discuss a few practical steps you can take to bolster both your social media and your SEO at the same time.

Some SEO Power

Based partly on our experience, and partly from information shared by Google’s Matt Cutts in 2010, we can say that Google does use social media to help rank websites. However, it is by no means clear how Google calculates how much “link juice” to pass from the social media platform to the website. Almost all social media links are “nofollow”, which means that

Google shouldn’t be using those pages to positively affect the SERPs.

However, Google’s Matt Cutts says that if Google sees a reputable social media user sharing a link, this will count towards the SEO. How much? We really don’t know! What we can be sure of is that if a brand new social media page shares a link it will have very little positive impact, whereas if a hugely popular person shares a link, this may well be considered far more authoritative and naturally boost the SEO of the page.

Back in 2010, Google was already talking about how it will ignore profiles that are simply full of paid followers – your social media pages must have real followers. Therefore, many businesses can benefit most from a strong LinkedIn presence, as it is far more likely that your followers are more engaged with your content.

Google has more recently updated its official line to say that social media does not impact SEO. As always, it’s best to test the theory rather than believing that social media won’t aid your SEO campaign at all. One company to carry out some thorough research is Searchmetrics. According to their 2016 Rebooting Ranking Factors White Paper:

“The correlation between social signals and ranking position is extremely high, and the number of social signals per landing page has remained constant when compared to the values from last year’s whitepaper. … The top-ranked websites in Google’s rankings display vastly more social signals than all other pages…. This is primarily due to the overlap between brand websites performing strongly in social networks and being allocated top positions by Google.”

Brand Management

Social Media is an excellent way to build your brand online. While you will want your website to rank first in Google for your business name, having several strong social media pages can help to promote your brand, and most importantly, channel more brand search traffic through to your website.

By building high quality pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as popular profiles Twitter and Instagram, you can ensure that when people search for your brand, your own pages will dominate the first page of Google. While this is not boosting the SEO of your company page, it means that people are far more likely to visit a web page that you control, rather than visiting one that may harbour less than perfect reviews, or worse, be owned by a direct competitor.

Outreach And Influence

We have talked about how building relationships with influencers helps your digital marketing before, but it is certainly worth another mention. A strong social media presence allows you to instantly reach a hugely influential audience, which can improve both your social media standing and your SEO.

All social media platforms work on the same principle – when content is shared multiple times by influential people, it reaches a wider audience and is ultimately read more. So long as your posts are designed to deliver relevant traffic to your website, you can leverage this to sell more. But, what about SEO?

SEO still needs that magic combination of excellent content and great links. Social media, when used correctly, can help you to gain some very powerful links. The key is to influence bloggers and journalists in such a way that they are more likely to share your content. Bloggers and journalists are always after a great story and will tend to follow social media profiles or hashtags that are most likely to deliver some juicy news that they can rewrite as a breaking news story. We have seen websites gain links from hugely popular publications such as The Guardian and the BBC after blog posts have been shared on social media – journalists always like a good story, but more than that, they love it when the story is practically written for them!

Helping The Community

Arguably, even better than encouraging influencers to share your content is becoming the influencer. This can be achieved by being very active in the web community by answering questions and helping others. This takes the most time and effort, and requires you to essentially become an Internet celebrity within your niche – it’s much easier said than done, and small businesses need to weigh up the investment costs involved in this approach.

Hanging Out With Your Market

Another benefit of social media is that it allows you to engage directly with your market – your customer base spends relatively little time on Google Search, and far more time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms. This goes hand in hand with helping the community – by being present in discussions your brand will become more familiar within your market.

Do not waste time joining general discussions, and avoid politics and current affairs. Instead, focus the discussions where your customers are active and engage directly with them.

Customer Services

Many businesses now use social media to manage customer services. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, but most companies are doing this well now.

As a rule, consumers only leave public reviews online when they’ve had a bad experience. This can quickly damage the reputation of a business, especially if all their initial reviews are bad. Sometimes a company can never fully recover from a bad launch. However, by actively engaging with customers who leave bad reviews, a company can build a positive reputation, as a company that puts its customers first.

All the above tactics can help your business in the Google search engine. While some methods will have no direct impact on your website’s listings, they will boost your brand online, which ultimately means that more people see your company than your competitors.

As well as SEO packages, we also provide social media and reputation management services, both of which utilise a broad range of social media platforms to improve your brand’s appearance online. Speak to one of our social media consultants today to learn more.