Does anyone talk about search engine optimization these days without also talking about social media? Not really, but the arguments behind the importance of engaging in both may vary. There’s a camp convinced that social activity plays a significant role in search engine rank placement (despite Google’s head of Webspam, Matt Cutts’, denials that Facebook and Twitter signals are weighted more heavily than any others). While another camp simply views SEO and social media as two distinct and effective ways to garner page views and attract a larger audience. Until the keepers of the algorithms reveal their secrets, the debate will likely rage on. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some proven ways that social media and SEO impact each other.
Social media activity can increase traffic to a website that extends beyond Google and other search engines. That increased traffic can also impact search engine ranking, which can lead to more traffic.
A brand mention on social media can lead users to search for or visit a site directly, which is an obvious win for page views. But there is a benefit beyond that. When everyone is talking about a certain brand, search engines tend to take notice, even without direct links to the site. Google looks at something called co-citation or co-occurence, which means it can identify a link between two pages mentioned on a third page without actual links to either. This becomes a factor in ranking.
Social Profile Rank
Profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ will themselves rank in search, particularly if they are optimized with relevant keywords. So they not only help increase a brand’s exposure in social media channels, but in search rankings as well.
Google is actively attempting to boost the profiles and the content of people who are authorities on a given subject. An active social media strategy can help to increase the profile of an individual and/or brand, especially one that is engaging with users on topics that are important to them.
Content that is popular on social channels tends to engage the user—watching a video, taking a quiz, clicking through a slideshow, etc. This increases the time spent on site, which search engines interpret as a signal of content quality.
Facebook and other social media sites are getting better at helping businesses target consumers that search them. When a user goes to the site of a certain brand and then leaves, an ad for that brand may subsequently show up on the user’s Facebook feed. This is called Facebook retargeting. New technology is expanding that will allow marketers to translate a user’s keywords and queries in search and offer targeted ads on Facebook and other social network feeds.
Local and Personalized Interest
Google in particular helps to personalize and localize search engine results for users signed into Google+. Brands that have active Google+ accounts can create local pages, add themselves to Google Maps, and be included in ratings and reviews. Locally optimized business pages increased their rankings in the top two positions by 399%, according to a study done by SIM Partners.
Search engines don’t have to look too hard to determine what is popular if a celebrity or big-name publication touts it. On social media, a brand is more likely to garner attention from influencers. Want to make an impact on your SEO and social media efforts? Explore our 10-week course in Digital Marketing.