Social media has become an increasingly important tool for business owners looking to popularize their websites and build a loyal audience. A social media presence has become a baseline consumer expectation for businesses, and keeping up with the latest in social media tactics can help you attract even more loyal followers to your account, ultimately improving your brand recognition and reputation.
It can even align with your other marketing strategies, giving you a platform to broadcast your latest promotions and offering an opportunity to integrate tactics like email marketing. But can social media improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts? Or is social media's influence on SEO just a myth?
Let's start by going over the direct impact that social media can have on SEO, because this is where most people fall prey to myths and misconceptions. There have been reports that suggest that social signals, such as the number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers an organization has, have a positive correlation with search rankings. However, Google's own Matt Cutts has gone on record denying that social signals like these have any effect on search rankings. In other words, it doesn't matter who follows you, shares your content, or engages with you on social media--it's not going to affect how your pages rank in Google.
If there's no direct influence, there may still be a positive correlation. As it turns out, some social media habits can indirectly improve your SEO strategy.
Blog Post Distribution
As you probably already know, your domain and page-level authority is largely determined by the quality and quantity of inbound links pointing to your site. One of the best ways to earn these links is to create a piece of high-quality content with original research or original statements in it; some of your readers will want to cite your information, and will naturally link to you when they write their own material.
Why is this important in a discussion on social media? Because social media is the perfect tool to extend the reach of those blog posts. If you have an audience of 10,000 social media followers, any content you write could instantly have an audience of 10,000 readers. If just 1 percent of those readers end up linking to your work, you'd stand to gain 100 extra links thanks to your social network.
When you consider this, it's not surprising that accounts with large followings tend to see better SEO results; it's an indirect benefit of having access to that level of visibility.
Having lots of loyal social media followers has another important effect: ongoing inbound traffic. Assuming you keep your followers happy, and they truly enjoy engaging with your brand, you'll see a steady stream of social traffic from your social media accounts to your website. These users will know your brand better than their organic-visiting counterparts, and may spend more time reading your content and perusing your site.
Why does this matter? Because usability and user experience do have a significant impact on your search rankings. The technical aspects get a bit complicated, but the bottom line here is that it looks good for your site when people spend more time on your pages, clicking your links, and engaging with your material.
How to Maximize These Effects
So what can you do to maximize these benefits?
Don't be fooled into thinking that your social media work is having a direct impact on your SEO rankings--but the reality can't be reduced to "social media doesn't affect SEO." Your social media efforts can heighten the reach and impact of your best content, and simultaneously breed an audience of visitors that make your site look better. Keep investing in social media as a supportive strategy, and push to make your impact even bigger.
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