Does social media affect SEO?

How do SEO and social media work together? It’s all about a holistic digital strategy.

You’ve obsessed over your SEO keywords. You’ve got your meta descriptions down to a fine art.

But have you considered how social media impacts your SEO rating?

Well… does it?

No. At least, not in the traditional sense. Having more followers doesn’t mean higher Google rankings (sorry, influencers). But seeing SEO as a simple formula (top ranking website = more clicks = more customers) misses the nuances of how people buy online.

According to Casey Bryan, SEO and Google Ads Specialist at Grand Cru Digital, “A customer’s journey is not always linear. In fact, it hardly is these days. People interact with your brand in many different ways online, from finding you through Google to following your business page on social media, to signing up to your email newsletter. Many people will hit various touchpoints with your brand before deciding to buy from you, read more of your content or sign up for your services.”

So how do social media and SEO work together?

You need to look at social media and SEO as part of a wider marketing strategy, says Rene LeMerle, Head of Marketing at digital agency Bonfire. “A rock-solid social media presence across platforms “is a great foundation to amplify content and drive engagement which influences your SEO either directly or indirectly.”

SEO and social media “often work best together under a strategic content plan. While they don’t directly influence each other’s performance in a traditional sense, they generate better overall marketing results when they’re considered together.”

If someone searches your brand name, having social media platforms helps “dominate the search results” – instead of leaving open bays for competitors, says Casey. Plus, it gives people more ways to get to know your brand. For example, “some people may prefer browsing your Instagram feed over checking out your website.”

If you’ve used social media to build a strong brand, this can help you stand out in non-branded searches, too.  “If someone searches for a product or service and notices your website and brand name in amongst the others, they may decide to click on your search result as it’s familiar to them,” says Casey.

Use social media to share your website content. “This can have an impact on your rankings by driving traffic and engagement to content on your website,” says Rene. It might earn you some more backlinks, too. “Once the content is being shared, it opens the opportunity of earning backlinks to content on your core website,” he explains. “This improves your authority and credibility, increasing your SEO rankings on Google.”

How can SEO keywords help my social media?

Unsure which social media content will resonate? Make like a social scientist (or marketing evil genius, your choice) and use SEO keyword research to reveal what your target market are thinking. “This can help you understand the behavioural trends around content themes, to help determine which content will work best and attract the most interest,” says Rene.

Flip it around, too. “Social media can be a great tool for learning more about what type of content you should be putting on your website,” says Casey. “You can ask your audience for blog post ideas for instance, or you can look to incorporate some of your frequently asked questions on social media onto your website.” Hot tip – “If you do this, don’t forget to use FAQpage schema.”

Is Facebook good for SEO? What about LinkedIn?

In the galaxy of SEO, not all social media networks are created equal. Some social media platforms are “gated”, meaning they can’t be indexed by Google, says Rene. Facebook is one example – “therefore offering less value form an SEO perspective,” he says. “LinkedIn, on the other hand, allows Google to index much of its publisher content, offering genuine value to your SEO strategy.”

Google openly indexes other media publishing platforms –including YouTube, Medium and Twiter.  These are “rated quite highly as authoritative content sites, and offer important opportunities for your organic search strategy.”

Casey urges you to consider which platforms make it simplest to share content that links back to your website.  “It is easier to share content with links to your website on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, rather than platforms like Instagram and TikTok.”

Do hashtags affect SEO?

In short, no. “Google hasn’t embraced hashtags in its ranking algorithm,” says Rene. “They service to better classify content within social networks, but have little to no influence on SEO.”

What about FB ads?

“Facebook Ads, and any other paid social media, doesn’t influence your SEO,” says Rene. “Even Google’s very own Google Ads don’t influence SEO.” Good to know.

Should I use SEO keywords in my Instagram captions?

Keyword research gives invaluable insight into how customers think. “So, while the social media captions won’t necessarily impact your Google rankings they are likely to influence the respective search algorithms with the social media network you’re using,” says Rene.

“These keywords can definitely give some good ideas about what to include in your captions,” says Casey. However, like SEO, it’s important you write your content for your audience and not for robots. Captions should be natural and engaging, not keyword stuffed otherwise you’ll send your audience running to competitors faster than a speeding bullet.”

What’s next for social media and SEO?

Anyone that’s dipped their toes into SEO, knows it can be more like quicksand – the digital landscape moves at break speed. So what’s next? “Google is introducing more ranking factors around website engagement,” says Rene. “So, the more visitors to your content from social media activities, the greater your website will score against engagement factors in the ranking algorithm.”

Plus, with Google constantly changing its algorithms, it’s possible social media might have a bigger direct influence on search engine rankings in he future, suggests Casey.

Just like your naturopath might tell you, a holistic approach is best. “An integrated approach to marketing always tends to deliver a better return on investment,” says Rene. Figure out how “SEO and social media can both contribute and leverage off each other.”

Integrate social media into your SEO strategy and find favour with the Google gods – and your human customers, too.

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Does social media affect SEO?