Who really knows what makes Google tick? Nobody really has the definitive answer and web geniuses are constantly trying to decipher the algorithms that produce the search results.
A big factor that is commonly debated between web developers and designers – does social media factor into search engine optimization? Searchmetrics agrees that it does affect SEO according to their 2013 ranking factors. In contrast, the team at Moz disagrees according to their 2013 search engine ranking factors.
Matt Cutts is a software engineer for Google. He’s currently the head of Google’s Webspam team and previously he’s been involved with Google’s family filter, search quality and webspam. He also created the first version of SafeSearch. He thinks Google will not have a direct factor in social actions for the foreseeable future (Facebook likes, retweets and +1).
He claims Google has attempted to consolidate this information and include it into their algorithm, but the task was difficult to quantify. Google’s never been very forthcoming with their search engine algorithm so should we take this info with a grain of salt?
Despite the varying claims, social media is such a prevalent part of the web that in some ways, it does overlap. Let’s take a look at how social media can make an impact on your SEO.
Three Ways Social Media Can Impact SEO
1. Link Potential
Brand awareness through social media is experiencing a revolution. With so many different social media channels, we have so many ways to market our brand. As viewers become more familiar with your brand they have more potential to become more interested in your content. As the interest builds, more people will have reason to search for your site. When search engines like Google realize that more people are searching for your brand, they reward you with a higher ranking.
They say, “Content is king.” As your content drives interest, people will be more likely to share your information. Retweets, Facebook shares and +1s are all significant in creating more link potential and contributing to your overall SEO. Just think if someone with several thousand or hundreds-of-thousands followers shares your content how that would affect you! That’s a good reason to make sure you take time with the content you put out.
To compliment Link Potential, brand awareness is also spread through sheer volume. Spreading your brand to the widest audience possible increases the possibility for more business potential. As mentioned above, more searches equals greater popularity, which in turn, is rewarded with a higher ranking. This is also known as organic search queries. These types of searches are very valuable to your overall SEO ranking. With the number of searches rapidly growing over the last 10 years, it puts that much more of an emphasis on your SEO.
The items that are more likely to be shared on social media that drive traffic are: blog posts, videos, funny or interesting content and special events. Sharing equals link potential.
One thing to consider is bounce rates. A bounce is when someone visits your site and quickly realizes that they are not interested in what they see and hit their back button to return to their search. A way to avoid this is to create interesting content to keep the viewer for longer than just a few moments. The longer you can retain the viewer the better for your organic results.
3. Personalization and Authority
Google has made an attempt to personalize your search results based on several factors. Some of those factors might include geography, social media activity or your relation to the business through other business you’ve used, reviewed, or searched for. One thing Google has heavily considered is that not all users are signed in at all times, so this element greatly affects their process of results. As Google continues to tweak this feature, your search results will continue to improve.
Site authority and personalization go hand in hand. Personalization can be from the user perspective and site authority is on the webmaster end. Site’s that are more relevant to the topic will receive higher ranking for particular search queries. Consistency in your site and a dedication to stay on topic is key with authority.
A site that promotes wedding photography services and only wedding photography services will be rewarded in comparison to a site that promotes general photography with several different types of photography services being offered.
Here at our studio, Lin & Jirsa Photography, we create authority with our sister company SLR Lounge. By creating photography related content, along with a tedious process to always be improving our SEO strategies, we’re able to rank at the top for the search query, “Orange County Wedding Photographer.”
Google Is King
According to the comScore results on search engine rankings, Google produces two-thirds of the web’s searches. They are the undisputed king. Microsoft has about 18% and Yahoo is the next biggest producer with 11%.
That doesn’t mean solely focus on Google, but with the knowledge that Google does play a gigantic impact, you can put your resources accordingly. Take time to fully understand how certain factors effect your organic search results and see how they would apply to social media. Facebook claims that their news feed includes over 100,000 factors to produce personalized feeds for each user. Although Google won’t ever publicly disclose their algorithm, we can assume that it might be as complex if not more so.
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The most important thing to remember is to not focus on solely one source. Spread your resources appropriately, create several opportunities through brand awareness and don’t be apprehensive in sharing your content through several social media channels.