Does Social Media Affect Search Rankings?

Internet Marketing for Attorneys, Surgeons, and Dentists

For many years, the connection between search engine optimization and social media activity has been contentious at best. They seemed to exist on two different planes: Social media was largely confined to the platform(s) you used, while search rankings were influenced by hundreds of factors on and off of your website.

Google has said time and time again that social media signals are not a direct ranking factor in search results. But, certain social activities do correlate strongly with better search results.

So, whether you invest in social media marketing with an agency or handle it on your own time, the answer is yes: search rankings can improve with an active social media presence!

Authenticity

Social metrics such as likes, shares, etc. are not integrated into Google algorithms. But according to Backlinko, the “legitimacy of social media accounts” is. Google actively strives to ascertain the authenticity of social media profiles. Profiles with an inordinately high number of followers compared to the number of posts, lack of engagement with users, and inconsistent profile information can all undercut your ability to rank based on this criterion (to say nothing of how such untoward activity affects your social media presence).

illustration of worldwide connections through internet on a laptop computerThis is just one reason that you should never, ever buy followers on Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform. Social media platforms and search engines alike are getting wise to this tactic. Not only will it undercut your performance in search and social, you will also lose credibility with the genuine fans and followers your business has generated.

Traffic to Your Website

In Google Analytics, “Social” is one of the default channels that measures website traffic coming from outside sources. Just like the “Organic Search” channel shows the visitors coming from Google and Bing, the “Social” channel shows users who arrive on your website from social platforms.

So what’s different about visitors who arrive on your website from social platforms?

  • Better engagement: In theory, the users who arrive on your site by clicking a link you post on social media will be engaged with your brand. As a result, these users should stay on your website longer. Google treats high average time on page as a positive ranking factor, so you want to build a fanbase of engaged users and point them to your website.
  • More pages per visit: Another quality signal Google evaluates is the number of pages an average user visits on average when they access your website. Due to the aforementioned engagement factor, visitors who arrive via the social channel should be more willing to see the other content on your website. This in turn reduces your bounce rate, which helps your rankings.
    • Bounce rate is the percentage of users who visit only one page on your website before leaving. Bounce is inevitable; leads technically bounce once they contact your practice. But, you want to keep the average bounce rate for your site as a whole at or below approximately 60%.
  • Branding: Part of off-site SEO is ensuring that your profiles on directories and other major websites are consistent. Your social media profiles provide another way for users to recognize your brand and connect with it.

Social media websites aren’t necessarily part of a backlink portfolio. However, they do create opportunities to drive traffic and earn links, both of which are key components of a winning SEO strategy.

Link Earning

illustration of the components of a digital marketing strategyTo be clear, you need a robust backlink strategy in order to stand out in search for competitive terms. This means not only optimizing your website and any third-party profiles (social media included), but also pursuing opportunities to be quoted and receive a backlink from relevant media, including local news sites, industry publications, and more. But, as you stay vigilant for link earning opportunities, don’t forget to build your backlinks on the platforms you control.

Complete your profile on each social network on which your practice is active. Point users to your website just like you highlight your physical address and phone number. Then, continue leveraging your website with high-quality and timely posts to your blog, your before-and-after gallery or results page, pages sharing practice news or community events, and more.

For example, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have domain authority scores of 99 or better (out of a possible 100). So, in addition to the high visibility and interaction these platforms afford, the scores by themselves mean that having a link on the site is beneficial for a business’s ranking ability.

And, what’s more, an active social media presence encourages backlinks from other sources. Not only will your posts highlighting quality, timely content get shared by other users, but other websites may also link to your website. Do this continuously, and you will establish your business as a reliable authority, which reaps dividends in search results.

Promotion

Catching the attention of prominent individuals and organizations within your industry or community doesn’t happen by accident (at least not on a regular basis). It takes time to build a brand that people can trust, and it takes ongoing effort beyond that to earn recognition and interest from the right people.

For that reason, don’t focus your social media efforts entirely on your business. By engaging with the social profiles for major people and brands -- via resharing, commenting on their posts, etc. -- you raise the likelihood that esteemed users on your preferred social platform(s) will take you seriously.

sticky note on wall with the words 'New Content' written on itAnd, when you engage with influencers, you create an opportunity to get noticed by a bigger audience. Influencers build significant networks of followers on social media, so the influx of traffic and innate engagement can be a boon both for your social marketing and your SEO efforts.

You can also enhance your local search presence by engaging with and getting noticed by major social media users and brands in your area. If users and businesses in your immediate community share your content and engage with you on social media, your profiles, your website, and your content should all benefit from additional visibility and traffic. And, as a result, your search rankings should see a boost, too, among users searching locally.

Conclusion

SEO is a long game. Most businesses benefit from partnering with an experienced search marketing agency to perform keyword research, optimize their website, and perform ongoing research and analysis to introduce improvements.

Social media also benefits from a specialized touch, but it’s not uncommon for businesses to handle their own social marketing efforts. If you manage social media for your business independently, remember the searchability benefits when you post. If you need help with your marketing strategy on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, contact Page 1 Solutions today.

For a complimentary analysis of your website and digital marketing strategy, please call Page 1 Solutions at 800-368-9910 today.

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