Despite no clear consensus on the exact relationship between social media and SEO, there are many reasons why social media cannot be ignored. Rather than considering social media and SEO as two separate components of digital marketing, it’s helpful to think of them as interconnected processes working toward the overall goal of increasing online visibility. Keep reading to learn why social media is important to SEO.

First Impressions Count

If your company or brand is active in the social space, odds are your social media accounts will appear on search engine results pages (and perhaps even within the top few results). Users will check out your social media presence as soon as they begin to look for information about your company, brand, product, or service.

A Facebook Page or Twitter profile may be the first interaction a consumer has with a company or brand, so it’s vital to properly maintain profiles and regularly update them with fresh content. As a potential “first stop,” social media profiles should effectively showcase a brand’s personality and spirit. Outdated content or neglected social profiles can quickly lead to a negative impression and potentially cost you business. Therefore, make sure the appearance of and content on your social media profiles is appealing, relevant, and recent.

One way to build a good reputation for your brand on social is by engaging with Fans by responding to comments on the Page. Proper community management can illustrate to newcomers that you consider and appreciate feedback from current customers or clients. A lack of engagement on the Page can contribute to a negative first impression.

Link Building via Social

Social media sites are where people share content with their friends, family, and extended networks. For brands to be competitive, they must be where the conversations happen. Social shares can result in links to website content that are valuable to search engines to varying degrees. Search engine crawlers are able to index social media sites much like any other website, so links via social shares on sites like Facebook and Pinterest can add up to a hefty amount of “link juice”. The weight given to social signals by various search engines is often disputed, and social shares are treated differently than other types of links; however, as social media sites continue to diversify and rise in popularity, it is likely that social shares will continue to be an important factor in search engine algorithms.

Social and Bing

Bing, the second-largest search engine after Google, is explicit about its use of shares, Tweets, and other social signals as ranking factors. In contrast to Google, Bing’s algorithms do not place as much emphasis on new website content. Instead, social media content, links, and even overall popularity on various platforms are important factors taken into account by Bing when determining search engine ranking.

While Google is still primarily a text-based search engine, Bing embraces multimedia. A notable example of this is image results on Bing, which leverages images from social media to provide richer results for users. Social media activity is also featured on Bing search engine results pages far more prominently than other search engines. Tweets or pins containing relevant keywords, as well as other forms social media content, are often integrated into Bing’s own search results. Actively posting visual content on social media channels is a great way to increase visibility on a platform like Bing.

Social and Google

Google is mysterious about exactly how it uses social media to determine search engine ranking, but evidence shows that it is still an important factor on the largest search engine.

Earlier this year, Google reached a deal with Twitter to index Tweets in real-time, allowing them to be more searchable. Access to the Twitter firehose means all the information on Twitter is available to Google automatically without robots crawling Twitter, making it easy for Google to instantly display Tweets within search results. This underlines the importance of companies and brands having a presence Twitter, as that content may appear in search results. Google’s algorithms also place emphasis on fresh content, so a well-maintained Twitter profile that frequently shares high-quality content is a good way to kill two birds with one stone.

In addition, it is no secret that Google gives weight to its own social media property, Google+. Content and interaction on Google+ is known to positively impact SEO, and a September 2014 study by SearchMetrics even showed that the number of +1s a Google+ page received showed a higher correlation in search rankings than other well-known metrics such as Facebook shares and keyword frequency.

Search Features on Social Media Sites

Although giants like Google and Bing are still the top players in search, social media platforms themselves have also been expanding their native search capabilities. After ending its partnership with Bing, Facebook revealed its own search tool late last year that allows its users to filter through comments and other information on the site. Facebook’s search feature does not connect users to web results, but aims to keep users on the platform by presenting information from within its closed network. Optimizing social media content not only makes it more searchable via search engines, but it can also make it more visible to users searching within such platforms.

Social Media Social Signals SEMPO
The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Twitter is also working on improving its search experience for users. Twitter recently unveiled a new search layout for the desktop version of the site that includes enhancements to search, such as better filters to sort through content. The new layout also allows users to save searches, embed them, or navigate to advanced search.

Such enhancements across major platforms could shift the way users seek information on the web, further increasing the importance of social media content. Making sure your company or brand has an active presence on social media channels ensures that users are finding your content when they seek information relevant to your industry, no matter where or how they are conducting the search. If people are able to find your content directly on social media platforms, the likelihood of them sharing it also increases, thereby improving SEO.

What’s your opinion on the relationship between social media and SEO? Let us know in the comments.

Image Source: Search Engine Land

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