Examining the Role of Social Media in SEO

Social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are interconnected in a marketing sense.

While social media’s link to the success of any search engine optimization is indirect, your overall results can certainly skyrocket if it is utilized correctly alongside high-quality SEO content.

Certain key performance indicators (KPIs) of SEO can be manipulated indirectly via social media.

Interlinking, page visibility and ranking signals can all be boosted, while the search engine indexing process can be noticeably shortened.

In addition, valuable social interaction data can be harvested as well. What’s more, all of these benefits can be obtained from an SEO-centric social media page.

Social Media and SEO: An Overview

Google may tell you that social media presence is irrelevant to SERP rankings (or words to that effect).

However, several independent studies have shown that claim is not entirely supported by the data.

It is believed by many that social media pages with a higher amount of shares or likes are more likely to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Though no explicit metric has been developed to measure this, industry anecdotes indicate that a notable social media presence can be engineered to work in favor of your SEO goals.

As we all know, Google’s bots work by “crawling” through web pages, subjecting them to criteria that determine whether a page is indexed (or not). Pages that are indexed will then begin to rank in SERPs.

Social media sites have recognized branding and heavy user traffic.

By running your social accounts within an SEO framework, you can capitalize on all the work these large companies have already done- instead of battling with millions of new pages yet to be indexed!

What does it mean to utilize social media within an SEO framework? Let’s begin with one of the most basic metrics of Search: Link building.

Link Building

One of social media’s key features is its huge client base.

Using this client base to boost your Google rankings is possible by sharing your website’s pages frequently on social media!

Links to your website and/or blog posts on your social pages will increase visibility, leading to more links clicked from a varied pool of users.

This type of interlinking will add to Google’s perception of your site authority and, as a result, should positively affect your rankings.

The raised visibility can be a positively self-reinforcing cycle.

Once they are reblogged or otherwise shared by a person or entity, your pages can be shared by that person throughout their own social media sphere of influence.

This may attract even more users you otherwise wouldn’t have reached!

This indirect promotion further befits your SEO purposes because interlinking between diverse users and platforms can indicate to Google that your page is credible.

Credibility and authority is a metric known to be a ranking factor, and affects SEO performance.

Sites with a highly successful social media presence can potentially rank on the first page of SERPs, even if they have a low number of backlinks from other sites.

As a survey by Databox.com shows us, the findings suggest that the number of social shares and/or likes a page receives has some influence on SERP rankings, although we do not know the exact nature of the relationship.

What’s important is that, to some degree, social visibility and SERP rankings correlate. So be sure to take advantage of this by creating a successful social media presence and linking it to your main website!

Interlinking through SEO-centric social media visibility lessens the promotional load that business owners have to bear.

This is because through social media, a large part of publicity is already carried out organically.

Therefore, in many indirect but significant ways, social media can be used for SEO purposes.

Social media also has a more direct influence on SEO with regard to the metrics it can influence, which we’ll now explore in the next section.

Ranking Signals

Ranking signals are the indicators which let Search know exactly how high or low to place a page on the SERPs.

These signals are based on a multitude of measurable metrics, of which a few are generally known.

For instance, we know for sure Google takes into account the following metrics and that they can boost (or lower) your ranking signals:

  • The time a user spends on your site
  • The time spent on a particular page

These two factors, as well as many more, both known and unknown, can be increased dramatically in a direct way by what you choose to do with your social media pages.

Having links to your website on your social pages will boost traffic, increasing the aforementioned metrics. In turn, this also increases your ranking signals purely from the higher levels of relevant traffic to your site.

And even if users do not become converted customers, they will still be spending time on your site, again, contributing towards better ranking signals.

However, to use social media in a truly effective SEO-centric way, it’s vital to target your audience specifically.

It’s a good idea to experiment with various page topics and types, such as blog posts targeting one audience group and informative articles targeting another. It’s invaluable to link appropriately between the pages to learn what works (and what doesn’t).

From this specification within your user base, you’ll be able to reach your SEO goals consistently even as times and algorithms change.

This can be done by harvesting content and keyword ideas from the most active faction of your users: The contributors!

Information Harvesting

An active social media page is a goldmine for client and user information.

Commenters will be vocal about making their opinions known, including their personal desires for your product, what they dislike and what they’re unsure of.

In short, it’s an extremely valuable collection of keywords that a wise SEO knows to mine regularly!

As you observe what people are saying about you, make note of recurring phrases, lines of questioning, or recurring instances of both complaints and praise. These will give valuable insight into where to direct your social SEO campaign next.

If you read the attitudes of your commenters wisely, the information you gather could prevent your business from making irrelevant content.

This is because you’ll be acutely aware of what the relevant users are searching for and be able to capitalize on this.

By doing this, you stand an excellent chance of finding keywords that your competitors may not be aware of yet, and can start to rank highly before your competitors are even aware of the keywords you’re utilizing.

Therefore, learning to use the wealth of information available on social media to learn about your audience intimately is vital.

People post all kinds of things, and an astute digital marketer will know opportunity when it comes knocking.

Find out exactly what your users want. Then, utilize their language and common questions to tailor your SEO so specifically that you can’t help but rank highly!

Quick Indexing

As mentioned above, only pages indexed by Google can be ranked on SERPs.

Pages posted on social media sites are more likely to be clicked on; this traffic then fulfills the function of telling Google that a page is active and needs to be indexed (or re-indexed, as the case may be for updated and re-shared content!).

Brand Real Estate

Just getting started, and your site hasn’t exactly taken off?

Use your social media pages to get the word out there.

This might sound similar to the advice already offered, but there is a facet I haven’t yet explained: The effect that established branding can have on SERP rankings.

Even when your website isn’t ranking, your social media page might. This is due to the authority, trustworthiness, or other ranking attributes of a particular platform that will land it (and potentially your page on that site) high on a relevant SERP. 

An optimized social media profile is crucial in the digital marketing industry precisely because the nature of social media will give it preference in the rankings over a new, barely-indexed independent website.

In Summary

The key principle behind using social media to enhance your ongoing SEO progress is that it can rapidly establish your page as trustworthy, authoritative and informative.

If you harness the power of social media in a way that your page visitors respond to, you can let them do the lion’s share of the marketing labor. But, of course, the best thing might be that they’ll enjoy doing so!

A lot of this hinges on the premise that you have a decent customer base or expect to have one.

Either way, let them promote your page, and more importantly, through diligent linking, let your pages promote themselves.

In short, remember that through processes such as interlinking and satisfying various metrics of ranking, social media can enhance your SEO. So, start ranking today with Social SEO!

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