Day 3 of the bigmouthmedia SEO Advent Calendar. You can read day 2 here.
Social Media considerations for SEO
Social media is becoming more and more ingrained in today’s society. You may find that it is mostly used for finding funny videos of cats, telling your mates how you’re not a fan of Mondays and getting ignored by celebrities faster than ever before. However social media has a huge influence on search engine rankings and has become a close partner to SEO.
The reasons for this increased partnership between Social and SEO can be summarised into four main areas:
Having a large presence in social media will make your brand a lot more visible online. Not only does it mean that users are more likely to see and share your content, having a number of social profiles visible in the SERPs will take up a larger proportion of the real estate in the SERP pushing any unwanted listings of possible negative reviews further down the SERP and out of view.
Social media helps people find your site and your content, the wider you spread your net on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google +, the greater number of people will see and potentially share your content to others within their social circles and thereby increasing your online presence and visibility.
By building up a strong online following across social networks and influencing other users through engaging discussions and topical content, you can become an authority on a particular subject. Search engines take your authority into account when deciding rankings so by becoming a trusted voice on a particular topic will lead to your listings being boosted within the SERPs.
Google also looks at the number of followers or number of retweets, as the search engines do with links they would look at the authority of the twitter user sharing your content. For example if an authoritative user in your industry was to tweet a link to your site with a recommendation, this would not only increase the traffic to your site but also would be seen as an authoritative social vote in the eyes of the search engines. Your aim is to become the authority within your industry
Social signals are a ranking factor
Social signals such as tweets, Facebook likes, Diggs, +1s and LinkedIn shares all contribute to the ranking factors of the search engines algorithms. Both Google and Bing have confirmed that these signals taken from these and other social media platforms social media play an important part in deciding search engines rankings.
It is estimated that 25% of tweets contain a link and when there are 250 million tweets a day, that’s a lot of links. Links received via social media are usually nofollow links meaning that they don’t pass on the full authority of the linking source, however the search engines will still take these nofollow links into account. Google and co still see nofollow links and shares as a significant signal so all of these factors are taken into account in their ranking process.
Google is always striving to make your SERP more relevant to you and what better way to do that is to promote recommendations from people you know. Google now promotes listings in the SERPs for individual users if they have been shared by members of their social network. You will see thumbnails of stories that have been +1’d and it also have an effect on individual listing that have been tweeted. As each SERP is now different for every user it is important to influence as many users as possible to increase your overall visibility.
It is worth bearing in mind that Social media doesn’t replace SEO, it works alongside traditional methods and helps it. You would still need to make sure you have targeted the right keywords, build out content and ensure it is accessible and continue to build natural links, but social media is an important SEO ranking factor that shouldn’t be forgotten.