Social Media & SEO: What’s Real, What’s Not

Lauren Durfy

Does social media directly impact search engine results? No. Can social media help your SEO? Yes… Confused? Well, the relationship between SEO and social media is not a straightforward one. In this article, we will dive into the myths of social sharing for SEO and discuss strategies for better utilizing social media within your SEO strategy.

Way back in 2014, Google clarified it does not take social posts into account when scoring search engine results. Google Webmasters posted a video discussing this phenomenon and why they made this decision. Ultimately, the fast-paced and sometimes spammy nature of social media swayed their decision. Google does crawl social media sites and posts, but not in the same way as websites. The bots would crawl posts similar to how they crawl nofollow pages (they do not get indexed).

I’m sure you’re wondering why there’s even a discussion on how social media helps your SEO if this is the case, so let’s dive in.

How Social Sharing Actually Helps SEO

While social media doesn’t directly affect Google’s algorithms, it would be foolish to not include it as a piece of your SEO strategy. There are numerous ways social sharing indirectly helps your web pages obtain better results:

Link Building

Link building — one of the most basic principles of SEO and social sharing can give your content the boost in visibility it needs to create more third-party backlinks. When shared on a company social media page, or shared out by your employees, your content gets more eyeballs and engagement so it has a better shot of bringing you more links.

To clarify, these are not from other social media posts or retweets as those don’t have SEO juice, but from links created by readers. Those readers who engage and enjoy your content and link to it when writing and creating their own content. It is these backlinks that improve your SERP rankings.

Build Authority

Sharing on social and engaging with customers on social media drives brand awareness. Becoming a go-to thought leader means people will start to seek out your brand (and website) when looking for that product and service. As this increase in share-of-voice on social media happens, it will (if done right) directly increase website traffic and time spent on page. The more these two things happen the more your domain authority increases. Higher domain authority helps your SEO score as Google only wants to serve customers search results and content they think add value and thoroughly answer the search query.

Instant Feedback

SEO takes time. It’ll be months (sometimes more) to know whether or not that piece of content is a winner or loser. Social media, on the other hand, is instant. Engagement and interest from your audience is a good sign that your content will also perform well and eventually start to rank. Why? If your audience is engaging on social media, it means the ideas are relevant and interesting; two very important things your content needs to be in order to show up on SERPs. Content that receives traction on social media is a good indicator of what your customers are also searching out on Google.

Social media is also a two-way medium, unlike a search engine. When customers engage with your posts and ask questions, they are providing insight into pain points and topics your target market is searching online. This insight is crucial to improving your content strategy to match the needs of your customers. This will not only drive your SEO but also your sales and customer service strategies.

Correlation not Causation

The relationship between social sharing and SEO is one of correlation, not causation. So how are they linked? Engaging content is what drives both SEO and social media to perform well, but social media can be an accelerant for quality content that will help to achieve better SERPs over time.

While social media isn’t directly tied to what page your website will show up on, it can provide both long and short-term benefits to help improve your overall SEO performance.

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