Digital Insights

How to Use Social Media to Improve Your Search Results Ranking

Published: February 24, 2015

Listening to Google spokesperson Matt Cutts talk about SEO is a lot like listening to a political speech – you have to do a lot of reading between the lines in order to make any sense of it. Consider Matt’s comments about the role of social media in influencing search rankings. In a video released in early 2014, he categorically denied that social signals have been incorporated into Google’s algorithm that determines how web pages rank in the search results.

End of story, right? Not exactly. All Matt said was that social signals are not included in Google’s ranking algorithm, leaving viewers with the impression that social media is useless for improving search ranking. Nothing could be further from the truth. What Matt neglected to make clear was that social media plays a critically important role in helping web pages rank better despite the fact that it’s not an actual factor in the ranking algorithm.

  • Content shared across your social media network boosts your audience as well as your brand’s authority and trust. This increases the chances that your content will be discovered and linked to by authority sites in your niche – which will be a factor in boosting your search results rankings.
  • A larger audience means more direct referral traffic to your website and an expanded social community of followers. This increase in social proof helps search engines index your content faster, and gives you more opportunities to rank for additional keyword terms.
  • Your actual social media profiles provide additional opportunities for your company to rank for branded search terms.
  • Google will always have complete access to Google+ data, which means that your Google+ profile will likely be the only social media venue that directly impacts your search results ranking.

Attract Natural Backlinks with Quality Content Based on Relevant Topics
Google’s Penguin algorithm update was aimed squarely at devaluing low quality links created for the sole purpose of gaming the search results. Backlinks are now expected to be earned editorially, leaving no footprint to suggest that any promotional effort was expended in acquiring them. The only way to earn the type of editorial backlinks that Google now demands is by sharing relevant content of the highest quality that offers genuine reader value.

Tap into your social communities for relevant content ideas. Many social media platforms allow you search for discussions by keyword terms. Enter relevant industry or niche keywords and follow the conversations, paying careful attention to the issues and problems being talked about – these are the golden nuggets of future content ideas.

Leverage Your Social Presence into Backlinking Opportunities
The major search engines continue to follow publically shared links across the top social media networks, which presents the perfect opportunity for acquiring powerful and completely natural backlinks for your website.

Take advantage of the broad audience offered by Facebook and Twitter by maintaining a strong presence on these major social platforms. Connect your company blog to your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that your social pages are automatically updated whenever you publish a new blog post.

Supplement Organic Search Traffic with a Strong Social Following
You can improve the long-term viability of your company by diversifying your sources of website traffic. Always include social sharing buttons on your published blog posts, preferably at the top and bottom of each post. Be sure to ask readers to share your content if they found it useful. Over time, you’ll develop a reputation for being the “go-to” authority source for your niche, enabling you to expand your audience with loyal followers not subject to the algorithmic whims of Google.


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