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Does Social Media Affect SEO

The rise of social media has created many possibilities for marketing your local business. It is a great way to connect with new and existing audiences and ‘get the word out’ about your product or service. But while social media is effective for expanding the reach of your business, there is confusion over whether social media has any impact on SEO. This article will explore what (if any) benefits social media has on SEO performance and outline what steps you can take to maximise social media success.

How social media indirectly affects SEO

Social media, like any other marketing channel, has the potential to assist your SEO efforts simply by virtue of increasing your site’s popularity and enhancing your brand. Over time, this should generate natural links from a variety of sources. It is worth noting that direct links from social media accounts probably do not help to raise your search engine ranking much. But that does not consider the impact social ‘likes’, shares, and comments have on SEO.

Does social media directly impact SEO?

In 2014, former Google engineer Matt Cutts claimed that Google does not take into account social signals to determine where to rank a website in their search engine results pages (SERPs). There has been limited response on this topic from Google since then, and many people are understandably curious if this is still the case. There is certainly some evidence to suggest social activity does positively impact SEO.

A 2018 Hootsuite study has demonstrated how websites that have a good, active social media following perform better than those without. There is some correlation between websites that rank in the top 10 and the amount of social ‘likes’, shares, and other signals, compared to sites lower down. It may be that socially active sites are simply better at all aspects of their digital marketing. But social media does appear to play an important role, if not a direct role in SEO.

So the truth is often sketchy at best. Information from Bing on how social media affects SEO is more clear (see the Bing Webmaster Guidelines). The search engine sees social activity and shares as a positive indicator. This stems from the fact that Bing relates high-performing social media accounts with ‘influencers’. Many likes, shares, and comments indicate a brand that is trusted by its consumers.

Summary

It is clear that there are indirect and *may* be some direct SEO benefit from social media. But the constantly changing environment of search means that brands like Google and Bing could place a lot more emphasis on social in the future. For local companies, social media is still very important. This is because it gives smaller firms the ability to easily connect with a local audience and engage in conversation. Even social media advertising can be used to precisely target local prospects.

If as a local business you want to unleash the power of social media, use social media platforms where your audience is, and be sure to post meaningful updates that your audience will appreciate and potentially share to other interested parties. This can include advertising a local event, new business wins, case studies, and photography of your product or service offering. It is also important to actively engage with your audience in a positive way and reply to comments and messages to encourage more people to participate. And don’t forget to ensure your website has features that allow visitors to share your content at the click of a button!

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