Do search rankings really get affected by social media interactions? To put it in simple words, yes they do, but probably not how you think. There are multiple ways in which social media tends to affect rankings. While the indirect benefit is typically misunderstood, the direct benefit is also rather limited.
While research studies suggest that pages that receive Facebook likes, comments and tweets tend to have higher rankings. However, this is much of a correlation, which means that there are multiple aspects correlated and are not the reason behind the higher rankings. The different connections between social media and search are inclusive of:
1. Sharing increases the visibility of a page
Social sharing has the potential to directly increase the visibility of a page. In the long run, such pages tend to get significantly more noticed by content creators, including journalists, bloggers and authors. This increases the page’s chances of being mentioned in a piece of writing, and that of being linked to. In case that happens, the page would be more than likely to rank much higher.
What this means is that any social activity can only help a page get ranked if it has better visibility among content creators. These are the people who would link to the page only if they find it helpful. In simple words, it isn’t actually the social activity that ranks the page, it is the result of that activity which does so.
2. User interaction signals and social media
This would be better explained through an example. For instance, a visitor initiates a search for a phrase. They receive countless search results with blue links. They click on one and find that it does not have any helpful content, so they hit the back button and leave. This would count as a bounce or a one-page visit. After that, they visit another page and like the content on it. So, they stick around and maybe even browse through the website a bit.
As any expert offering affordable SEO services would tell you, all of this was being watched by Google. Not only does Google own the search engine, it also own the analytics placed on both sites. This would mean that Google has complete insight in to how long the visitor stayed on the page and whether they clicked more pages or simply hit the back button right away. Known amongst search engine experts as a ‘low bounce rate’, this is an obvious sign to the search engine giant that the page presents high quality and relevant content. Hence, the better the ‘time on site’, which is a significant user interaction signal, the better would be the ranking. The longer the time spent on the page, the better the chances of getting a like or a retweet, and the higher the chances of getting a better ranking.
Tips to follow
With that, here is a look into a few social media practices that might help you get better SEO results:
Ensure that your content is worth linking to
Why do you think anyone would want to link to your site if it has little content, or content that is uninteresting or poorly written? Our first point: it is vital for you to create content that people would like to link to.
The main problem occurs when you start writing too much of self-promotional content. While it is important for your site to have standard pages that advertise your products and services, it would be rare for these to gain any social media traction. The best means of overcoming this issue is to focus on the creation of content that is less sales-y and more informational and interesting. For instance, you could put up a collection of tips that can help people out with a few things, a tutorial helping readers, a beautifully designed infographic and other content that would make people want to share it.
If you think this would take too much of your time, then you need to know that just having a few really well-written blog post or infographics with useful and informative data will help you get a lot of shares. In the long run, this would lead you to acquiring links from influential websites.
Build relations with content creators
To acquire high quality links, it is also important for you to put in efforts to build relationships with top-tier content creators, and specifically share content with them. The one thing that you need to bear in mind here is that while social influencers have the power to amplify impressions, but it is the content creators that will help you achieve rankings. This can include:
- Event producers
- Academic researchers
Build your social media following
Now, here’s the catch. While many are under the impression that a huge social media following is just what they need, the fact is that the sheer quantity is not going to help you out at all in terms of rankings. So, what exactly is it that matters?
Quality. Yes, the quality of your social media following is something you need to be very careful about. If you are followed by a 100 people that include the top 5 influencers in your industry and publish content regularly, then you would yield better results than someone having 10,000 followers on social media.
However, what you need to know is that such a following is gained as long as you follow certain social media etiquettes. For instance, you must refrain from pestering them for links. Relationships take time to build, so instead of focusing on a one-off engagement, build a partnership that is sure to last. Apart from that, you must also put in time to share their content in a proper manner.
All in all, there is a fine line between the ways in which social media can help you increase your rankings in search engines. To make the most of it, it is highly recommended for you to build your following and focus on the creation of content that is worth being liked and shared. Remember, the results that you achieve out of your social media activities will take time to show up, so it is vital for you to be consistent in your efforts too.
About the author:
Nouman is a digital marketing expert from Dynamologic Solutions for many years. He considers bringing all the keywords to the top of his duty and constantly strives hard to achieve the best result. Along with finding & implementing content optimization strategy, he is also fond of writing interesting blogs on SEO & digital marketing related topics.