Once upon a time, search engines were king. But search engines aren’t the only “search engines” nowadays. Last year, Google claimed to perform 3.5 billion searches per day, but..
Now more than ever, people are turning to social media to find their answers. And if they do perform traditional, “search engine searches,” those search engines often take into consideration “signals” from social media sites when ranking a page. That means, social media is now a huge SEO factor, both indirectly and directly.
For example, the search engine Bing openly admits that social media is one of their definitive ranking factors (and Bing handles about 24% of searches, so that’s quite respectable). Google, on the other hand (which dominates 63% of US search queries), does not have specific social media ranking factors, but it uses social more indirectly.
The Google-Twitter Deal
Google’s job, as we know, is to crawl the internet and create an index so that we know where to find the things we’re searching for. Even though Google algorithms don’t specifically target social platforms, the company did recently make a deal with Twitter. The deal granted Google access to Twitter’s massive public data in real time. This takes place via a data feed, not search crawling, so Google now has hundreds of times more access to tweet streams, in less time, with less “crawling” effort.
But what about other social media platforms, besides Twitter? Google claims they treat social media pages “just like other web pages.” On the surface this might seem discouraging in terms of SEO, but it’s actually a good thing for social media marketing strategies. Social media itself may not be a ranking factor for Google, but social media amplifies the other ranking factors that Google DOES consider, such as content/keywords, visibility, credibility, authority, and links.
The Big Two
Google engineer Andrey Lipattsev was once asked what the top-ranking factors are for Google. He replied that the top two were: links and content. As we know, producing fresh, high-quality, valuable content with strategic keywords is an absolute must in SEO. There is a ton of new content being produced each minute of the day and companies need to not only participate in that, they need to excel at it in order to rank.
Social media provides a platform for publishing this content, which can thereby drive SEO. Regular social media posts amplify visibility (a Google ranking factor), and well-crafted posts that get likes and shares amplify credibility and authority (two other Google ranking factors).
Social media also helps deliver links. Backlinks (external links to your website) are often touted the number one driver of search engine rank. And social media pages can be a huge provider of backlinks (if pages are managed correctly and content is created strategically). Links can be added to posts, page info, buttons, etc. and they are created when content is shared by social users.
In other words, Social Media = Increased Visibility = More Links = More Authority and Credibility = Higher Rank
Now, that’s “smart advertising.”