How Does Social Media Help SEO?

Social Strategy, SEO

Google has said that social media does not have a direct impact on SEO, but there’s a growing theory that the search giant may be looking at social platforms more closely than they let on. Whether search engines are using social media as a direct ranking signal or not, the indirect effect is undeniable. Brands with a strong social media presence do show up higher in search engine results. Here are several of the most important things to know about how social media can help SEO.

1 – Social Media Profiles Show in Google Rankings

Regardless of whether or not a strong social media presence can improve the Google ranking of a brand’s main page, the social profiles themselves can show up in search results. In a search for a large brand, you can expect to see multiple social profiles on the first page of Google results. If the top results are a brand’s website, Twitter profile, Facebook page, and Instagram profile, a person has multiple options for how they want to connect. There’s also that much less space for competitors at the top of the Google rankings.

subaru of america's facebook page is the second Google result for their name
If you search for Subaru of America, their Facebook page is second only to their main site.

2 – Bing Definitely Considers Social Media

Google has been wishy washy at times, which might lead one to think they’re giving more weight to social media than they’ve said. Bing, on the other hand, is completely transparent in their webmaster guidelines:

"Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results.  The most obvious part it plays is via influence.  If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals.  These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run."
bing homepage
In the race to be the most-used search engine, Google is out in front by a mile, but Bing is still in the race.

3 – Spread Content for SEO

Social media is a great place to share your content. If you just keep publishing articles on your site, Google may eventually bump you up the rankings enough to be seen, but that would take ages. Linking to your content on social media doesn’t count for a full backlink by any means, but it does increase the likelihood that people see it. People will visit your site, and hopefully spend some time there. If people spend a lot of time on your site, it shows Google that the content is worth reading.

4 – Get Top of Mind

There’s no need to explain how social media can increase brand awareness. Once people are thinking about your brand more, they’re more likely to seek it out through a search engine. Generating buzz on social media is a great way to expand your organic reach, which will lead indirectly to improved SEO.

5 – Local Engagement on Social Media

If your business is local, social media is a great place to connect with people in your area. Engage with other local brands, news outlets, and influential people in your city to get geo-specific traffic. If a lot of people from the same city are going to your site, Google will eventually pick up on the fact that you’re important there.

long tail search engine results
Even if social media isn't a direct ranking factor, it can get people looking for your brand online, which will definitely help.

6 – Conquer Search Terms

Once people remember you from social media, they’re much more likely to search for you online. Chances are good that they’ll include related terms in addition to your brand name in the search. For example, if your brand is Bob’s Auto Shop, and someone searches, “Bob’s Auto Shop oil change,” Google will see that you’re relevant to people who need an oil change.

7 – Link Building

Links from social media are no follow links, and therefore not nearly as valuable as a backlink from a relevant website with good authority. Fortunately, social media is a good place to get your content in front of people who might go on to link it from their site. Form great connections on social media, and you’ve got another asset for your outreach link building efforts.

The Bottom Line: Social Media and SEO

It’s unclear how much social media affects SEO directly. Even the experts seem to be somewhat unsure how much of the benefit of social media for SEO is direct and how much is indirect. There is no doubt, though, that SEO and social media are aligned. Once you start seeing the positive effects of social media on your SEO strategy, you might not care if it’s a direct ranking factor or not!

If you want to explore ways your brand’s social media accounts can get you higher in search results, reach out at any time.

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