The Effect of Social Media Conversations on Search Engine Ranking

how-social-media-affects-search-rankingDo our social media posts and tweets really factor into Google search?

The answer might surprise you — although their algorithm does not factor in these networks it does pick up on social signals.

When people interact and communicate on places like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn this activity is sent out to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

A brand that is frequently mentioned through conversations can have an impact on rankings — the higher the mentions the better chances of your business being seen.

Marketers often refer to this as “unicorns,” which can magically bring loads of visitors to your website.

Although your tweets, retweets, and shares will not affect Google’s algorithm measurement these can spark engagement that signals to search engines that your brand matters to people.

The better your content is on social media the more chances you will have of it being picked up or crawled by the search engines. Matt Cutts explains the reason behind this here:

Marketing expert, Larry Kim, ran his own test on Facebook, which measured social engagement, organic search and rankings. In his study he looked at two factors:

  • Facebook Insights sharing and engagement data
  • Query data from Google Search Console or CTR

The results revealed a correlation between high engagement on posts that produced a higher organic CTR:

larrykim-study

“The argument isn’t whether social sharing causes organic search rankings or organic rankings cause social sharing,” Kim writes. “It’s about how engaging your content is.”

Google Plus is set apart from other social networks in that certain phrases and headlines help improve your ranking. The number of plus ones on a post from a connection in your circles can also affect how your content is measured as shown here in this chart by Orbit Media Studios:

social-activity-googleplus

As remarkable content and trust become more prominent in the online world it’s clear that content, social media, and SEO all work together to establish authority and reputation. This ultimately affects your website ranking as your social influence and relevance increases.

Gone are the days of relying on targeted links to move up the ranks in search. Because of the growing number of spam and bots many of these are being blocked. That is why having a strong social media presence that is genuine and authentic is so important in your overall brand building plan.

Once you have published content your audience loves there are a few rules to follow in order to effectively use social signals to build higher rankings:

Establish a High Number of Authentic Followers

Your business can purchase fans and followers on social media — but these will not be interested and targeted community members who will want to comment and share what you have to offer. In order to be authentic you need to have a strong following based on relationships.

Google’s latest algorithm in particular can differentiate between fake accounts and real conversations. The quality of your connections matter and you will want to evaluate your current networks to eliminate as many spam accounts as possible like this example from Twitter:

twitter-fake

You can use various online tools such as Twitter Audit and FollowerCheck for Instagram to find and remove fake accounts. I’ve outline how to perform an entire social media audit here.

In the past external links were very important to include in content in order to get noticed. This is still an essential part of SEO, but does not have as much weight as what is being sent out from your social networks. Because of this you will want to include any important website links and relevant hashtags in order to build social proof and attract inbound links that matter to your audience.

Focus on Visual Marketing

In today’s fast-paced mobile environment you need to catch your visitors quickly with images and videos that inform and encourage interactions. These include infographics, native video, podcasts, ect. The more helpful and appealing your content is the better chance it will have of entering into conversations, which affects search engine ranking. Manny The Frenchie has grown into an Internet sensation through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube:

mannythefrenchie

As you can see here this famous dog appears on the first page of Google along with his social media accounts:

mannythefrenchie-google

When you post to your top social networks that your audience loves the traffic comes back to your main website and increases both your social signals and SEO ranking.

As Google continues to improve its algorithm based on human responses and interactions social media will continue to play an important role in your brand being seen in search. This will also increase the need for an authentic and well-established community who is active and engaged with your content as it serves their needs and desires. It is that genuine and trusted persona that has the most weight over just purchasing large of amounts of fans and followers and building links in articles.