Can Social Media improve SEO Rankings?

In 2014, a video by a man named Matt Cutts who worked for Google then (now with the US Digital Services), released a video mentioning that social signals such as Facebook or Twitter likes and followers which indicate a profile’s authority and influence, do not affect search rankings.

This statement threw marketers for a loop; they had been operating under the assumption that social signals were factored into Google’s search algorithm as an indication of trustworthiness and quality. Yet the results seem to show that while social media might not be a direct factor, it certainly influences your SEO rank.

Social media may not be able to directly influence SEO rankings, however, it can impact the factors that play a role in the rankings. By sharing links and websites to the pages on various media platforms, there is a high possibility that this will bring in more traffic to the page. In addition to bringing in more traffic, one can create and produce content on the social media platforms which will then eventually drive them to the site. By gaining a better viewer base, this audience may also go on to share the content with others who may be interested and hence, creating more traffic. An increase in traffic on the site means that more people are reading the content, which will improve the overall SEO rankings. Social media is the key in helping one increase both.

The right type of social media content published on a regular basis can make a huge difference to the overall content marketing campaign. And when one finds out that the social media posts can get crawled by search engine spiders and get indexed, things get better. Now, this doesn’t mean that every tweet or post one makes finds its way to Google’s vast index. It has to be relevant enough so that they can be found by people searching for similar content. For example, if you search for Oprah Winfrey, you will find most of the top results are her social media profiles/pages. Because it’s relevant to the search query.

“Build it and they will come” doesn’t cut it in today’s competitive marketplace. One has to be proactive and reach people where they are. Click-through rates also contribute to search engine rankings. Social media marketing helps build brand awareness and an audience, which increases the likelihood that people will click on your brand’s content in Google’s search results.

Search engines give a lot of weight to a website’s authority, making it a critical SEO factor to focus on. In the eyes of search engines, if your page or domain has high value, it has high authority. And a better chance to rank above sites with not-so-strong authority.

The authority of a webpage or site grows over time. As you keep publishing top notch content and gain more relevant backlinks, your authority keeps growing. The content that you publish, if valuable, gives your audience what they’re looking for. Which in turn earns you backlinks, giving you a number of positive votes.

By focusing on building an engaged network of social media followers, your content has more relevant places to live. And the more relevant places it lives in, the more authority you gain. For instance, if you create content about Yoga and get backlinks from blogs that specifically write about Yoga, you get more brownie points from Google and other search engines. They’ll know that you’re publishing content that is reaching a relevant audience.

With social media growing at warp speed, it is becoming an unavoidable part of SEO, especially because it is made up of real people. After content, social media can be seen as an integral factor in search. It lets you segregate your audience and target who you want. Indeed, social media is one of the fastest ways to get to know your audience. Be it a group, customer support channel or promotion page – whatever purpose it serves your business, it will be easy for you to get feedback. It gives you a bird’s view of everything. You know where your content is, who it is being consumed and shared by, and the kind of impact it is having. 

Gone are the days when social media was only about shares. Today, it’s about making leverage. It’s about making your content engaging enough so that it is shared and seen not just by anybody, but by the right people. Given that you are publishing and sharing high quality content on social media, your content should be able to generate a higher amount of engagement and backlinks.

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