As we talk to different small and medium-sized businesses throughout the country, I am asked one question again and again: Does social media impact search engine optimization?
Yes. In fact, social media can make a huge impact on your SEO campaign very quickly. Here’s why.
At its core, SEO is based on three elements: popularity, authority and relevance. Popularity is the sheer number of inbound links to a website or webpage. Authority is quality links received from sites or pages that have a lot of links going to them. Relevance is the on-page, off-page, URL and anchor text relevancy in correlation to the search term enter by the searcher into Google.
Social media can be the quickest way to drive the popularity aspect of SEO. That’s because social media drives a lot of links to your website or webpage quickly. The links may also have some authority to them, but usually it’s just a high number of links of lower value. Google, Bing and Yahoo have stated publicly that they utilize signals presented in social media to not only rank items in real-time search, but to also determine which pages are being heavily discussed in social media.
I also have had a few conversations with some Google Engineers both while abroad and in the U.S. that provided some great insight. Overall, I’d recommend a few things though if you really want your social media to drive your SEO.
Popular audience: Work on the number of retweets (Twitter) and reposts (Facebook) you receive for your content. The search engines are looking at the number of retweets/reposts to help them determine how popular the shared content is online. The more the content (i.e. tweet, facebook update) is retweeted/reposted, the more important the content is perceived by the search engines.
Authoritative audience: Create a strong following in social media not only by sheer number of people following/friending you, but also by how many of those people have a high number of friends or followers. The search engines prefer content that is not only authoritative by the author but is retweeted/reposted by authoritative people.
Yes, you are judged by the company you keep and the more powerful your company the more powerful the search engines will perceive you and the content you create/share.
Relevant audience: Not only do the search engines pay attention to the type of content you create/share online, they are also paying attention to the content created/shared by those that are connected to you as well.
If you wish to have your content perceived by the search engines as being very relevant for SEO, PPC, reputation management, etc. then you will need to have in your timeline/history a lot of content that relates to SEO, PPC or reputation management. If then, the people that are also well known for SEO, PPC or reputation management share your content on their profiles then that specific piece of content will gain even greater relevancy.
Lesson here? Just because it may be fun to post a lot of random stuff on Twitter or Facebook (which I am very guilty of), it may be best to stick to your core competencies in order to improve your overall relevancy for the products/services you do hope to be successful in online. I know, it takes some of the fun out of social media but if you truly wish to grow your relevancy, restraint is suggested.
Social media should be open: The search engines are going to mainly pull publicly accessible information. While Bing has stated it may pull information from behind a wall (i.e. Twitter protected profiles and Facebook walled content), Google has stated that they only access information that Googlebot can access. Thus, it is best to have an open profile and hopefully have friends/followers that also have open profiles.
This will provide the maximum opportunity for ease of access to the content from the search engines and a greater ability for the search engines to interpret the intensity of the popularity, authority, relevancy of the content. Google has even gone so far as to announce they will shut down all private Google Profiles this summer, citing the point that social media should be open.
As most of you may be aware, I keep all of my social media profiles completely open. I do so partially to help the overall impact my social profiles have on SEO. However, it is also because it is a way of life I have chosen and find great joy in being so free online.
Hopefully, this gives you a taste as to how the search engines view social media, as well as a few tips to help you improve your social media. Social media and SEO will only continue to merge together as they both mature as online marketing components. You can either choose to start building a proper social media profile that is useful for SEO now or risk having little audience, authority or relevancy in the future.