Does social media help for SEO? The answer is yes.
Google wants the highest quality web pages as possible in their search index. If consumers are sharing web pages on their social media accounts, Google sees it as a high-quality web page. The same goes for backlinks. Google wants users and human beings to decide search results. By people linking to pages and sharing content on social media, Google can decipher what are quality pages and what should be in the SERPs.
Below is an example firsthand that shows how social signals impacted a certain page.
Social Signals Boost a Webpage to the Top
In 2014, a media company, Inspiyr, created an amazing piece of content, “What Not to Eat: 15 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.”
This company completed & executed an in-depth research, content creation, and content promotion process to develop this article. They published the piece and then executed Facebook Advertising to the page to further promote it to their audience.
Then… something amazing happened. It was shared on Facebook 134,000 times.
This happened for a few reasons. George Takei shared it on his Facebook page and then everyone started re-sharing it.
Soon after it received its massive viral social media fame, it rose straight to #3 for the keyword “unhealthiest foods” and soon after became #1.
When I search for it, I receive both the article and the schema markup Google choose to show, which shows a high correlation with Google liking this piece for the first position in Google.
What is amazing about this particular example is that the web page stayed in the first position in the SERPs for “unhealthiest foods” for over two years and has not moved. Truthfully, the only reason it stayed there is because it was shared so many times on social media.
The other pages below it in the SERPs have higher URL ratings and better quality backlinks. Over time, this web page will fall for this keyword, since the page is not gaining the massive amount of social shares continuously, but what we are able to take away from this web page is without the thousands of Facebook shares, it would probably not rank.
Once they promoted it on Facebook and it became viral, it went straight to #1 for the main keyword and stayed there for years. So this shows us Google uses this data to rank it higher because the web pages below it have stronger SEO signals, besides the social sharing aspect.
How to Integrate Social Media for SEO
Now that we see just how impactful social media can be for SEO, we need to know how to optimize for it. Posting content on social media sites with zero likes, comments, and shares will do you no good. Google crawls these sites like normal web pages, so we want to have as many pages with posts linking to you as possible.
The first thing that we need to do is research content. Using tools like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo, we can see what is the most popular content based on social shares. This takes the guesswork out of what will be popular on social media. Once we have information on what has been the best content historically, we need to take it up a notch. Let’s say that you found an article that did incredible on social media that was “Top 15 Coffee Makers for 2012.” You don’t want to make the same piece of content, you want to make it better, so you could create “The Best 15 Coffee Makers for 2017.”
The content you create based off of historically successful articles should be more in-depth, more researched, and more thought provoking than anything else out there. Having top-of-the line copywriting should be a priority and it’s always a good idea to include some types of visuals, such as images or GIFs. Once the content is produced, you need to post it to your site and make sure you have a good interlink structure inside the post that link to various pages and pass on the link authority.
Promoting Your Content on Social
Once you have the content posted to your website, you then need to promote it to your audience. It is a good practice to post it to your various social channels and then use advertising channels such as Facebook and Twitter to push it further. If you get a share or retweet, Google can crawl those individual “post” pages and will give you more authority for each of them.
You can also use outreach tools to promote your content to journalists or content editors who have written similar content. The goal is to get them to share your content on their social channels. Using pitches, similar to PR, you can acquire social media shares from very high-level influencers. There is a general principle to use for outreach:
Great Content + The Right Outreach + Added Value = Links/Social Media Shares
If our content is truly great, we pitch to the right people, and we add value for them, good links/social media signals will follow. This will lead to even more social media signals which will ultimately help our SEO.
Continue to rinse and repeat this method to get more and more social signals, and soon you can just post content and receive social media shares without the hard work!
We can see that social media does influence rankings and it is a common best practice within the search marketing community to optimize for social media shares. Social media is a useful tool – it helps build your brand, your online reputation, and your organic search rankings.
Creating good content, promoting it to the right people, and obtaining the right social media shares will help increase your organic search rankings and passes quality signals to Google.
About the Author
Ronald Dod is a partner and CEO of Visiture, LLC. After founding Grey Umbrella Marketing, an internet marketing agency which focuses on Search Engine Optimization for eCommerce businesses, he merged with Visiture to create a full service search marketing offering for eCommerce businesses. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions. He holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.