Social media: we all know how important it is in today’s internet culture for establishing your brand in the minds of potential and current customers. We’ve already done a bit of explaining on how to get shared on social media, which should be enough to get your name out there in the world…but what other sort of effect is it having? Are there other reasons to want to have a big presence on social media platforms?
While the debate rages on as to whether or not social signals (a term for the amount of traffic, likes, views, etc. a page or article gets via social media) directly affect where your page ranks in Google’s search results, there is still a lot of value in how social signals could potentially affect your site’s traffic.
Studies have shown conflicting results as to whether or not Google takes the authority of a Facebook or Twitter user into account when deciding rankings, it is believed that links published on social media may be considered backlinks. That is to say, a link posted to your site by a Twitter user could be considered a link to your page the same way it would from a blog or another website, although no consideration is given to who (or what) exactly posted the link.
It also plays a role in building links. Let’s say, hypothetically, an independent blogger happened to see a Facebook post from your company (or even saw someone else discussing it on Twitter, or what have you) and decides to insert a link to your site in an article they publish after reading your post. Even if the Facebook post isn’t considered a direct backlink (and again, that’s still being hotly debated) there are still organic opportunities for links to emerge from your social media participation.
These days, most search engines would prefer you had an account with them – Google offers Google+ and Gmail, Bing works with Yahoo and Hotmail, and so on. If you’re signed into an account associated with a search engine (or sometimes even Facebook, in Bing’s case) the search engine can customize your results to reflect both their current rankings and recent activity on your friends in social media circles.
Let’s say you’re looking for the best bars in Detroit, and you’re signed into your Gmail account while browsing Google. A friend of yours happens to have recently liked the Google + page for a bar you’ve never heard of. The bar will then likely appear on the first Google results page for your search, provided the keywords line up.
What does this mean for your business? While it is limited to users of certain search engines or email accounts, it shows that certain page likes can affect the results a user sees. And who knows? You might get a new customer just because their grandma liked your site on Facebook and it made your name appear in their Bing search results.
This one is a little trickier, but well worth getting into. A lot of discussion has happened in the SEO and marketing worlds over the concept of brand signals or brand sentiment, which is a measurement of how often your brand is being brought up on social media, blogs, and the like even without direct links. A patent held by Google for one of their search algorithms defines non-linking citations (essentially, someone mentioning your brand/company name without a link) as “implied links”, and as they’re a natural byproduct of social media usage they’re well worth your time. How do you do that? Simply by producing good social media content and getting people talking about you. The effect won’t be immediate, but so long as you can keep up your momentum, you’ll see some positive results soon enough.
There’s plenty more effects that social media could have on your organic search results, but these may be the most important ones to keep in mind when trying to track the results of your social media campaigns, or simply deciding how to increase your organic traffic.