Getting the Facts Straight on Social Media and SEO Part 1

As the SEO industry continues to develop and evolve, social media is becoming an undeniable, albeit still relatively small, force in the search engine algorithms. It may sound cliché, but with the recent influx of articles and blog posts on social media and SEO, how are you to know what is true, let alone what tips and observations will help your website? That is what this two-part blog post aims to solve. First, I will dive into a recent article I stumbled upon, that is seemingly pointing SEO-hopefuls in the wrong direction. And in the second part, I will dive into the beneficial aspects of social media marketing – first explaining how they apply to SEO, and then how and why you should be leveraging them.

In a recent article published on Fast Company entitled ‘SEO Isn’t What You Think It Is”, we were presented with the rather misleading idea that “updates to Google’s algorithms mean that social engagement, rather then search engine trickery, yields top results.” While I don’t disagree with this sentiment, I think that it misleads non-SEOs into believing that social media is the answer to all of their organic search problems. What’s more, the article continues on to say:

‘So rather than asking yourself, “How do I optimize my website to better rank with search engines?” ask, “How can I optimize my brand so that it’s a sought-after participant in relevant conversations?” Answering that will bring you top rankings in the search engines and much, much more.’

This is what I disagree with more anything else in the article – Google does not care about whether your brand is sought after or not. They care about providing value to their users. In other words, providing the most relevant content to the user, given that user’s search query. In no way can Google do this for your target users with your website if you simply focus on optimizing your brand on social media outlets. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Social media sites employ no-follow links – meaning that authority is NOT transferred to the destination site for links gained on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. In other words, you are only achieving half of the desired goal – you have the link, but you aren’t gaining any search engine value from it.
  2. Your website needs a search engine-friendly architecture and content strategy. In SEO you always hear “write and optimize for the user and not the engine,” but there is certainly something to be said for a white-hat strategy that focuses on a clean, simple website-architecture and a pointed content strategy to create a search engine friendly website. This foundation will go a long way in setting your website up for SEO success.
  3. Google’s algorithm incorporates much more than social interactions – in order to be successful in your SEO efforts, you need to keep your focus on the big picture, rather than getting caught up in the minute details – such as a one-dimensional focus on social media.

With that said it is important to not overlook the benefits that social media can provide for your website. In part two of this series, I will cover the benefits that social media can provide in your quest for higher positioning within the SERPs, and explain how implementing a social media strategy in parallel with your SEO efforts can help you to drive traffic to your website and ultimately boost your SEO efforts.

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