Social media activity is an increasingly important factor in search rankings.
It’s no secret that the search engine optimization landscape has changed dramatically and the factors that influence high SEO rankings have changed as well. The reality is the web is now highly social, and this dramatically changes search. With so many highly evolved social media platforms, it’s hard to decipher which platforms have the most impact on SEO (see also: The Difference Between SEO and SEM).
In this article, we will dig into the world of modern SEO to see not just how social media affects search, but which social media platforms have the most impact on search optimization.
How Social Affects Search
The traditional approach to SEO has been centered on creating excellent content that is easily searchable via search engine bots. To be clear, this approach is still perfectly valid.
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The main difference now is that there is a social layer to this type of SEO-friendly content development. In addition to being high-quality, your web content must be sharable. Factors like your brand’s connections with other social media users and how many people “like” or “+1″ your posts also influence search engine rankings. The key here is to not focus on a content strategy or purely on a social strategy, but to align social media efforts with content.
Since around 2010 SEO managers and social media marketers have been debating the effects of Facebook “likes” (engagement) on search optimization.
The truth is somewhere between “absolutely” and “not quite.”
The reality is that Facebook does have some impact on SEO, but not quite the impact you’d expect from the largest and most powerful social media platform in the history of the Internet.
The key to SEO-impacting Facebook content is to create content that is easily sharable. Viral, or highly shared and talked-about content creates web buzz, and Google pays attention and will rank your website accordingly (see also: Tips for Using the Facebook Timeline for Businesses). This comes down to understanding your Facebook audience, what they talk about and what they love to share.
For some, Google+’s impact on SEO is controversial. Some argue that Google stacked the cards in favor of their own social platform. Others insist that this is unverifiable (see also: A Guide to Crafting Golden Google + Posts).
To break down the Google+ SEO impact in the simplest form is to talk in terms of personalization. What does this mean? Well, say someone who follows you on Google+ sees a post or a link to your website in Google search results. They can click the “+1″ button and your search rankings can, and often do, go up as a result.
The debate over Twitter’s effect on SEO is a little more lukewarm than Facebook. There are a lot of opinions and a few hard lined case studies that show real-world impact.
However, not unlike Facebook, Twitter demands high engagement from followers. For instance, sharing a story on Twitter with a short link built in can generate enough buzz that popular search engines like Google and Bing will pay attention. The key here is having a small network of dedicated followers who will always share or retweet your Twitter posts.
While Google+ may seem like a ghost town to many self-proclaimed SEO and social media gurus, the impact on search rankings is undeniable.
However, no brand should put all of their eggs in one basket. This is not an either/or approach. All your social media pages should work together to improve your overall web presence.
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Photo: Book Worm Laser & Design from Flickr.