What is the Impact of Social Media on SEO?

Frequently, clients come to us asking what is the impact of social media on SEO? Does social media affect search rankings? Does Google rank articles differently based on social shares? Let’s dive into some of the data.

In the 2019 list of Google’s Ranking Factors, social media is mentioned stating that the legitimacy of social media accounts plays a role in Google’s rank, meaning that if your social media account has 10,000 followers and a similar account only has 400 followers, Google will rank your content higher. Of course, there are other ranking factors that will determine where Google places your content in the search results, but we see here that Google does keep social media in mind when ranking content.

social mediaDo Social Links Affect SEO?

While we know that social links don’t directly affect your page authority, do social posts with links count as credible backlinks? We know that backlinks are a huge part of boosting page authority and increasing your rank in search results, but HootSuite, a social media marketing platform, wanted to answer this question question about backlinks and created a study called Project Elephant, an experiment named after the “elephant in the room.” With this study, they organized content into three groups:

  • The control group: 30 articles/blog posts that received no organic publishing or paid promotion on social media (or anywhere else)
  • Group A (organic only): 30 articles/blog postsles published organically to Twitter
  • Group B (paid promotion): 30 articles/blog posts published organically to Twitter, then boosted for two days with a budget of $100 each

As they ran this experiment, they tracked Google search result rankings before and after posts, search volumes for specific keywords, backlinks, website mentions, and more. By conducting this experiment, they wanted to test the hypothesis: “There is an indirect relationship between social media and SEO. That is, content that performs well on social will likely earn more backlinks, which helps boost search rank.”

“The boosted posts saw a 22% improvement in rankings with an organic traffic push, followed by a paid social boost of $100.”

At the conclusion of the experiment, it was clear to the team at HootSuite that social activity did impact search rankings. The boosted posts saw a 22% improvement in rankings with an organic traffic push, followed by a paid social boost of $100. Although many factors were in play, organic posts combined with a paid social strategy appear to positively impact overall SEO.

Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engines

Although many digital marketing professionals debate how much social media profiles impact SEO, it is important to remember that social media profiles do appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). Continuous social posting on your accounts is crucial if someone searches for your business and your social media profiles appear at the top of the SERPs. Not only will your profiles appear near the top, but your local Google My Business listing may show up in the right-hand side of the page as well. Ensuring that these profiles are up-to-date and accurate can send users exactly where they are looking to go, plus it can increase foot traffic if hours, address and contact information are accurate.

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Searching on Social Media

The last way we will discuss the impact of social media on SEO is thinking about social media platforms as a search engine. There are hundreds of statistics about how many people use each platform, but some of the numbers behind searches on social media platforms is impressive. Did you know that YouTube processes over 3 billion searches per month? This information reminds us that we should expand the idea of SEO to include not just the traditional search engines, but also think of social platforms as search engines.

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