Can a Strong Social Media Presence Improve Your Search Rankings?
For more than a decade now, social media has been a powerful marketing channel for businesses in almost every industry. It’s a great tool for advertising and an international communication channel where you can make announcements, reach new people, and nurture your existing audience.
Social media can grow your brand’s influence and reputation, but can it also boost your visibility in search engines?
SEO in a Nutshell
Let’s start with a brief description of search engine optimization (SEO), in case you aren’t familiar. SEO is a collection of different strategies, including onsite and offsite tactics, designed to improve your website’s potential to rank high for relevant queries. This is done with two main goals in mind; increasing the relevance of your pages with ample content and appropriate keywords, and increasing the authority of your pages with inbound links and high-quality content.
SEO is more complicated than this, but this serves as a high-level overview.
How Social Media Can Help
So what role can social media play in improving your rankings?
- Indexed content. Google does index some social media content directly. You’ve likely seen embedded tweets and other social posts in your search engine results pages (SERPs) in your own personal search history; this is because Google indexes these bits of content much like it does other web pages. Paying attention to your social posts and optimizing them for relevant queries can increase your chances of being featured here.
- Social signals. There’s also some evidence to suggest that Google considers social signals when it evaluates the authority of your site. For example, if one of your blog posts gets 1K shares on social media, it may consider it a more authoritative piece of content and may reward it with higher rankings as a result.
- Content popularity (and links). Social media is also a good platform for publishing and syndicating your best content. After writing up a new blog post, you can post it on social media and influence your followers to share it. If successful, your content will reach a much bigger audience, and assuming it’s high-quality, you can earn more links as a result. More links mean more authority, which eventually turns into higher search rankings.
- Audience size and site traffic. The bigger and more devoted your social media audience is, the more dedicated traffic you’ll get from it. Traffic alone can’t help your search rankings, but if your traffic comes consistently and spends lots of time on your pages, it can increase your authority (and your search rankings).
Overall, putting social media to good use can boost the potential of all your onsite content, and indirectly help you build your authority and relevance.
Where Social Media Falls Short
That said, social media does fall short in some key areas:
- Onsite factors. Social media has no relationship with the technical factors of your site. If your site isn’t mobile optimized, if it isn’t easy to crawl, or if you haven’t paid attention to the metadata of your pages, even the best social media strategy won’t be able to help you. Your onsite SEO needs to be in order if you’re going to make steady progress in search rankings.
- Content quality. You also need to consider the quality of your content—both in your onsite blog posts and the quality of your social media posts. If you have a high-quality blog post, social media can do much to boost its visibility and ensure it reaches its potential. But if your blog post quality is lacking, even a widespread social audience isn’t going to do it much good. Similarly, if you’re spamming social media posts without much regard to keyword optimization or quality for your audience, they won’t help you get more search visibility.
- Link consistency and growth. Though social media can help you get links due to the heightened visibility of content on social, this alone isn’t a consistently reliable strategy. Because inbound links are so important for your domain authority, it’s best to supplement your social media strategy with a more reliable way to generate links—such as an offsite content strategy that allows you to cultivate links directly.
Ultimately, social media can influence how your site ranks in search engines—but only indirectly. If you want a more consistent path toward search ranking growth, you’re best off using social media as only one of several tools for improving your relevance and authority.