Digital marketing has evolved in the past few years in response to Google’s algorithm updates in certain aspects and the steady rise of the 'content is king' era. Previously, the standard SEO strategy focused on singular keywords. Today, SEO strategies focus more on longtail keywords, keyword intent, and the search user's needs.
In 2014, Matt Cutts, former head of webspam at Google, pointed out that social signals (metrics such as Facebook page followers, likes, etc.) don't affect search rankings.
This threw off digital marketing experts around the world since they'd been operating with the knowledge that Social SEO marketing was used in Google search rankings.
Understandably, marketers were in a fit, to say the least, since Cutts himself said that social signal relationships were factored in rankings back in December 2010.
Despite the whole back and forth on the social SEO perspective, results show that while not a direct factor, social SEO signals certainly influence your SEO and Google ranking.
What is Social SEO?
Social media SEO or social SEO refers to how social media marketing can be used to boost the website’s search engine optimization and organic traffic.
This interactive metric shows how the target audience interacts with your brand’s content on social media platforms. In digital marketing, social signals include actions that define user engagement, including reviews, likes, shares, votes, customer comments, etc.
User behavioral metrics on social channels, including social SEO, are critical in the relevance of a search query on Google's SERP.
The idea here is the more content from a business is liked, shared, and commented on, the higher its value and relevance and, therefore, the higher it may rank in Google search engines.
How Does Social Media Impact SEO?
There has been a long debate on whether social media impacts SEO and Google search rankings in digital marketing.
Four years after Cutts' video in 2010, Twitter temporarily blocked Google’s access to its social network. This was around the time Matt Cutts had to address the fact that Google couldn’t rely on social SEO signals that might be a 'temporary' idea.
Since then, Google has publicly reported that social SEO has no direct effect on search engine optimization and company rankings in digital marketing.
One noteworthy change from the past years is that Facebook and Twitter business pages and other social channels have started appearing more on first-page SERPs.
Hootsuite carried out a digital marketing experiment testing the effect of social media on SEO ranking in a set of articles.
They observed the aggregate number of social engagements and the change in rank in one week across all different test groups.
From the results, an average of 22% of the articles with the highest social shares ranked higher than those without social media marketing during the experiment.
So yes, social SEO does seem to influence rankings (but not directly) and hence organic lead generation. But that doesn’t mean you should spam customers' Facebook for social shares and marketing.
Doing this will only annoy your target market, and they might ignore your company or completely stop following you.
Also, note that paid search promotion has almost doubled the SEO ranking of organic promotion. So the Pay Per Click landscape is quite different from years back.
Companies should integrate social media marketing into their SEO strategy, digital marketing, and advertising campaigns. But there’s more to benefit from social SEO than its potential to influence your SEO and the ability to rank higher positively.
Here are four more reasons why a social SEO strategy is important in your overall digital marketing strategy:
4 Reasons Why Social SEO is Important
Social media might not directly affect search engine rankings, but it’s certainly helpful in certain aspects of marketing businesses. Here are the benefits of using social SEO in your advertising and marketing:
1. Helps drive quality traffic to your site
One of the top benefits of businesses using social SEO strategies is it helps generate more organic traffic from the target market. Social media has great potential in lead generation and driving organic social traffic to your business website.
Social media marketing makes the most out of social networks, which helps the right people find your company. In addition, the search engine is also built to find better ways to serve its users beyond the technical stuff in advertising.
So, in essence, SEO and social media seamlessly work together to make up a search engine that's becoming more social by the day.
IBM is a good example of a company that maximizes social media SEO, which helps drive quality traffic to its site.
By being active in its interaction with its audience and using enticing content, IBM can resonate with its viewers and showcase its legacy.
This content creates incredible engagements and helps them drive quality traffic back to its website.
With 4.65 billion social media users, social media helps you get to know your customers through digital marketing. Here are some ways companies can use social media platforms to increase website traffic:
- Post high-quality content
- Build relationships with your target audience by asking questions and through surveys
- Use the feedback to adjust your social media marketing strategies
- Collaborate with influencers
- Use visuals
Brands will need to do audience research and identify the most viable social media platforms. The business can also increase its content's visibility in SERPs by properly adding keywords, link building, and using paid-search promotions to optimize the content they create.
2. Increases branded search
Social media SEO is key in growing and building your brand exposure in the industry. That is instrumental in boosting branded search.
Branded search terms usually include a company or brand name. So, instead of searching “shoes,” a user may search for “Nike shoes.”
One way to increase branded search is by boosting brand recognition. You’ll have to do several things, including building a strong social media SEO, before you may see SEO results.
Social media marketing and presence help spread the word about your brand and services, increasing brand recognition.
More people will get to know about your brand and engage with it through the same social media platforms. As a result, some people start using branded searches when looking for your products.
When people do a lot of branded searches, Google search algorithms start to associate that particular brand with particular services or niches in the industry.
Most SEO experts agree with this correlation. Here’s what Brian Dean of Backlinko has to say.
Increasing brand recognition is a great way to market your brand. Use social SEO to boost brand awareness. That can then help you generate more branded searches which could boost your SEO.
3. Helps build authority
The authority of your web page or site will grow over time if you focus on creating authoritative content and building a reputable backlink profile. Social signals can also help a business build more brand authority.
Building brand authority on Google is a continuous process that will take relevant quality content, a great marketing strategy, and time. Here's how to build your business authority using social media marketing:
- Create high-quality content
- Your marketing team should be consistent
- Share content through a solid posting strategy
- Connect and involve other professionals/websites in your content and advertising
Today, you can’t ignore social media marketing tools if you're trying to work out an effective content marketing strategy. All that positive attention generated through social media marketing creates social SEO signals and boosts your brand authority.
Here’s an example by a travel blogger, Adventurous Kate, who had a blog on being shipwrecked in Indonesia.
This generated exposure on social media sites. When other websites covered the story, they linked to her blog or homepage.
Sharing her story helped her get more social signals and quality backlinks, which ultimately helped her website rank higher on the Google search engine. This also helped in reaching more customers.
4. Social content can appear in search results
Search engine spiders can crawl social media posts for indexing. Some of these posts may then appear in the organic search results.
For instance, if you search for home decor ideas on Google, the top SEO results include search engine pages from social media platforms.
If you create quality social media posts using keywords, your business posts may appear on Google search results for relevant search queries.
Besides Facebook, YouTube videos also tend to appear in search results at times. For example, if you search for "backlinks explained" on Google, some Youtube videos will appear on the Google organic search results.
When you optimize high-quality social media content, your social content may appear on Google search results, helping you drive more traffic to your site. Using a content improver to manage your blog and social content helps your site get great attention.
Google search engines and social media SEO are not tools that operate in silo relationships. As a result, we can expect companies with successful and strong social media marketing to perform reasonably better in Google SERPs.
Social SEO is one of the best tools to improve your performance on Google search engines.
Although it may not directly influence your Google rankings, it can help drive quality traffic/ reviews to your product and increase branded search.
Moreover, it'll boost your marketing and brand authority and increase your social SEO content’s appearance on Google SERPs.
Therefore, our advice is that it’s time you took social SEO marketing seriously. Good luck.
Tomasz is the Marketing Executive & Partner at Surfer, a platform that merges content strategy, creation, and optimization into one smooth process.
With almost a decade of experience in the industry, he is responsible for incorporating and executing marketing strategies. Currently, he manages a team of 4 wonderful experts.