Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead, social media is the new SEO! You read these or variations on them from many marketing and social media experts. Many are just using them as headline bait to get you to click-through to their content. Unfortunately, some are misguided enough to believe their own hype. So, let’s see if we can draw some conclusions on the impact that social media actually has on SEO.
73% of all Americans use search engines and 50% use social media sites. The number of search queries are also still rising year on year so search is not going anywhere for the time being. If it were then Facebook, would not keep alluding to entering the search market!
No one other than the search engines know what factors are used to determine search engine rankings. We can of course infer something from the testing and monitoring that we carry out as an agency. However, even though we may see correlations in the data, it’s almost impossible to determine causation. From the data that we monitor there are at least three points where social media clearly has an impact on the search results returned:
- Personalized Search — this is used by the larger search engines now. This means that they are looking at your network of connections and may tailor your results to show relevant articles/pages that have been liked or shared by the people to whom you are connected. This influences your search engine rankings because those pieces of personalized content may knock you out of or add you into the search results depending on who has liked/shared your content.
- Content Marketing — social media allows you to share your content widely, which gives your content more exposure meaning you may get more traffic to your site and further likes/shares of your content. The likelihood of people linking back to your content from their own sites if they enjoy your content is also greatly increased.
- Likes/Shares — the search engines may use the share counts on your website to as a small factor in determining the value of your content, which may in turn increase your relevancy and therefore affect your rankings. Caution though, the perceived authority of the person liking or sharing may also have a bearing on this.
- We ought to be completely clear that SEO and social media are two completely different disciplines. SEO helps to ensure that your website is accessible, targeted, and relevant to your audience whereas social media should be used to engage your audience in conversation and drive visitors to your website. They are both important parts of any new media marketing strategy, but they shouldn’t replace each other.
Invited contributor Kittie Walker, is the Managing Partner at Indigo Girl, a design and communication agency based in London, UK. With over 20 years business experience in multiple industries, she brings a wealth of skills to the projects that she participates in. She has in-depth knowledge of the retail, leisure, banking, hospitality, healthcare and IT sectors. She has an MBA together with a teaching certificate and a passion for lifelong learning.