Businesses often ask, “Does social media support SEO?” And while it is so important to remind folks that there is no ‘silver bullet,’ the answer is yes, that social media will improve a company’s competitive search results.
So back in 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts (i.e., in-house SEO authority at the time) shared that social activity and the potential influence signals that an SEO algorithm might notice, like the no. of ‘Facebook likes’ or ‘Twitter followers,’ DID NOT affect search results or rankings.
Up until then, marketers had been under the assumption that these social media signals surely represented signals related to trustworthiness & quality. The assumption was that these were readily available signals that would be counted by Google’s search algorithm when ranking a website’s pages. And while Cutts said it was not the case, many in authority on Google search results continued to argue that, while social media might NOT be a directly counted signal, it must still influence competitive rank in some way.
So, for the SEO-focused marketer, what is the value of a social media account when it comes to a searching consumer? Let’s have a look at how social media signals matter.
4 Ways That Social Media Can Support SEO
1. Social Network Post’ Outbound Links
In contrast to the statement Cutts made in 2014, he also said that Google does crawl social media accounts to the degree it is allowed (i.e., FB doesn’t allow a Google bot to crawl into posting activity). He said that if a business is on Facebook or Twitter, for instance, Google might return it as a part of a search result. And so one might conclude that while the authority of a social media account may not directly impact a website page’s search rank, the links coming from a social network or a ‘social media post’ to a brand’s website pages … just might. In other words, why wouldn’t links from trusted social media websites to a website page be counted as trusted backlinks to that page? And so, would it not be logical to assume those links are signals that influence a website page’s rank?
2. Social Network Account Profiles in Search Engine Results
Social network pages (i.e. Facebook Business page) can show up in a search result for that brand. In fact, social network pages are often up toward the top of a brand-driven search and the related results. If social network pages matter to Google enough to include them in results when people search for a brand, well, it matters to have those pages set up with the most current useful information. After all, a company’s competitive SEO can include an entire web presence of website pages, citations*, listings, and social media account pages!
3. Social Networks Offer Search
While most people go to Google, maybe some go to Bing and DuckDuckGo, when they want to search for something particular – social networks also offer in-network SEARCH. Their results are strictly content found in that social network, rarely the depth that a web page or pages might offer, but you have to assume that people search, for instance, on Facebook. And so if a person who frequents Facebook decides to search on Facebook … well, then it pays to be set up with current useful content, including posts that link back to website pages. So far as this point goes, search engine optimization can and maybe should include current active social network accounts. And by the way, YouTube is not only a place to post/host video content, but it is a search engine too!
4. Search Algorithms Change
What Matt Cutts said in 2014 doesn’t necessarily reflect any ‘algorithmic changes’ made more recently. Social media seems to get bigger all the time, so how a search engineer factors social network pages, following, and any content into their algorithm may have changed in time. And Cutts represented Google, but his comments don’t reflect on how Bing’s algorithm (nor DuckDuckGo’s, for that matter) ranks content.
Will Social Media Support SEO More In The Future?
Search Engines cannot sit still! The effort to answer search queries well is an ever-evolving process that must adjust to the way people use the Internet. If not, Google may find itself losing ground to upstarts like MSFT Bing, Facebook, and maybe even DuckDuckGo. People use the web to share ideas and to reach friends … and new target audiences of like-minded people. It is, in effect, “social”!
At a minimum, we should maintain our social media accounts with accurate, timely information. Maybe use posts to share current information and also link out to our website pages where there is a depth of related information. We speak with a lot of business owners who do not have a social media presence, including regular posting activity. And none of the above refers to social media advertising so much as it does having an accurate, consistent (website, social media accounts, citations) web presence.
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