Social Media and SEO: What’s the connection?


There is a lot of confusion and debate about how social media and SEO impact one another. Does having a large following on social media help your website? Does using social media help get you to page one of search engine results? The constantly changing rules of the digital world means there’s no simple answers to these questions.

In theory, using social media to share links to your website’s content should positively impact your website ranking by creating links to your website that appear on another site - also known as backlinks. Many interactive gurus also believe that the higher your social signals are, such as number of followers and a high level of interaction, search engines will rank content from your website higher. But the impact of these social signals is one of the biggest misconceptions about the relationship social media has with SEO.

It is too easy to just post links on social media sites and the search engines know this which is why they do not give much weight to these links. So if search engines don’t consider these legitimate backlinks, what is the point of including them? There are three main ways sharing your content on social media can help.

The Effects of Social Media on SEO

  1. It increases your chances of receiving legitimate backlinks from other websites. Many businesses go to social media when they are looking for content to share and include for their audiences. Having a strong social media presence increases the likelihood of your content finding its way as a backlink on another site.
  2. It can lower the bounce rate and increase time spent on your site. Part of your SEO plan needs to be finding a way to keep people on your site since search engines rank you higher when they notice viewers hanging out to read your content. Social media gives you a targeted and interested audience for this content. In addition to helping your bounce rate, sharing your content on social media also increases its shelf life. Writing interesting and valuable content is hard which makes it frustrating when your work begins to gather dust a week after you debut it. Sharing your content on social media creates new access to it every time you get a new follower, like, or share.
  3. Search engines look highly upon sites that feature content viewers are interested in. But how can you determine what topics are most valuable to your audience? Simply use social media. Since social media allows users to interact with posts, you can use this as a barometer for judging what topics perform well. Once you know that, you can plan out more relevant content for your site.

SEO’s Effect on Social Media

This all explains how social media can help your SEO but how does it work in the opposite way? We know that SEO is important for search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo but did you know that each social media platform is a search engine as well? People are now using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest to find the content they are interested in. These search engines pull keywords from the About sections of your profiles, your posts, and your images. This means when you are optimizing your website, you need to also optimize your social media accounts and posts.

Search engines may not place weight on the links placed in your social media posts, but they do look at the keywords used throughout the profile. This means that if someone is searching for your business on Google, it is likely that your social media profiles will show up in the results along with your website. This obviously doesn’t help your website ranking itself but it gives your business more real estate in the search results.

When it’s all said and done, having social media profiles won’t automatically increase your website’s ranking. But, building out your profiles with SEO in mind and creating a consistent and well thought out posting plan will certainly aide in helping your website over time.