15 Dec 2015

The Secret Relationship Between SEO and Social Media

Google likes to be secretive. All these articles you read the claim to have the authoritative latest about ‘penguin busting’ or ‘Hummingbird hacks’ are mostly based on very astute and clever people reading through the lines during official Google hangouts, things they have tried and lots of idea swapping on geek forums. Very rarely does Google give anything away, and when it did, ‘Mobilegeddon’ ensued which turned out to be a storm in a teacup!

You can understand why Google has to be so secretive, but it all seems a bit… well… futile, as the secrecy does not stop people from working out how the system has changed and how to manipulate it. That leaves the only weapon at Google’s disposal as ‘frequent change’, which is why it seems like they are continually moving the SEO goal posts.

To that end there is no official word on the relationship between social media and SEO keywords, but it is apparent there is a relationship. The whole concept is hotly debated, as is ways to leverage it, but the confines of social media have become so blurred that it’s hard to distinguish where one ends and the next marketing media begins.

Marketing experts are looking at the correlation vs causation equation for social media making them debate whether it causes a higher SEO ranking, or the ranking correlates to a strong marketing presences including social media. So does social media help organic search rankings? It’s hard to see how it doesn’t given that some intersections all but prove causation.

One thing we do know is that Google pays a lot of attention to Likes, shares, retweets and even +1s, and if it wasn’t’ important – why would they do that? It’s not like their bots are sitting round waiting for something to do.

Google and Twitter

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Since we have established that there is a link between social media and Google, what kind of links are there?

Twitter helps Google organize content. There is a morass of information on the net and to rank it, Google needs to sort it. We know that tweets rank in searches (see the image above) which actively helps Google find new content. This is a firm win for those who think that social media causes SEO rankings.

The only fly in the ointment is how much of Twitter is indexed. According to Stone Temple Consulting, it would seem to be not a lot.

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Even with such low indexing rates it’s worth being active on Twitter as it will get you noticed.

According to Searchmetrics, “Since search engines now calculate social relevance and performance across the web, this information empowers your organization to make meaningful adjustments to its social strategies.”

Which in English means that search engines monitor your SEO and you can get tools to tap into it and use the data to make you more visible. Isn’t that what all companies want?

Linkbuilding

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Ahh, the Nirvana of all social media – the organic backlink.

Bots have become so sophisticated that they can now tell the quality of backlinks. If you have been paying massive attention, or just even paying, for backlinks then it’s time to stop. If you run your social media effectively, backlinks will come. It’s easy.

For example, if you make whizz bangers, have a blog that you post on social media that get 25 shares, that gets 25 shares, that gets 25 shares, someone, somewhere will write an article about whizz bangers and pick up your url from social media, maybe even more than one. As your url is included in their material you get a backlink, so if that content is shared, your backlink travels with it too.

The long and the short is – if you write good content, promote it effectively on social media, then you will get organic traffic. The more you create, the more links you’ll generate. Told you it was easy…

Social Media is a Silent Partner

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This chart shows that amount of traffic social media can divert to your website. If you have a blog to which you post regularly, then without knowing it, the traffic is directed to your website.

The bots do not know where the traffic comes from (but other website trackers do, so luckily you can track it and adjust your strategy accordingly) but one thing that will register with the bots is… the upsurge in traffic. Tracking or linking back to your website is never wasted. Use it.

Visibility

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Humour me for a moment – Google ‘ESPN’. What are your first five rankings? The chances are, they are their web home page, then Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (that’s the video one without a heading) and probably Wikipedia is one order or another. For almost any ‘bog box’ corporation you Google, the results will include their profile page on social media somewhere near the top. This is an opportunity.

Your profile page on social media is important. You are in control of it and it’s one of the things that ranks highly, very highly, with Google. Make it shine! Use it like the marketing tool it is! It’s important.

Whether you believe that social media works by cause or correlation for success it really doesn’t matter. Either way it is an SEO success. Social media influences your SEO rankings and to ignore it would be detrimental to the health of your marketing. Learn to work with it. See where it takes you. The odds are, wherever it takes you, it’ll be better than where you are now.