Social media - some hate it, some love it; but what is its significance to ecommerce businesses, and how could it be affecting your website's search engine rankings? Find out just how your social media campaign could be affecting your SEO results in this handy guide! One thing is for sure, social media does have an influence on your SEO efforts, whether it's indirectly or not!

How Does Social Media Affect SEO?

Five years ago Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google, went on the record to say that Google's algorithm does, in fact, use social signals as a ranking factor in search results. In other words, the more likes and followers accumulated by your company's social media profiles, the higher you'd rank in the SERPS. However, in January 2014, he announced that social signals were no longer a part of the algorithm rank factor – it, he said, became too difficult to organise and quantify, and therefore, Google does not and will not include it.

With billions of social media profiles out there, and even more by the day, it's impossible for Google to crawl and index each one frequently enough to keep up with their ever-changing follower and like counts. Because of this, they simply monitor the on-page elements that they're able to crawl. With this in mind, don't pay for likes or followers on Facebook or Twitter – they have zero SEO value and will tarnish your credibility as a brand.

So what does this mean for your social media marketing strategy exactly?

There are many benefits to using social media and growing your company's social audience, and whilst the number of likes and followers your company's social media accounts have might not have a direct impact on your SEO efforts, social media and SEO do overlap. The content and the rate in which this content is posted (your activity) matters.

Different Ways Social Media Matters To SEO

  1. Visibility – Your activity on social media will help to increase awareness of your brand. This alone provides link potential, and social shares are the new link building. For example, a blogger may see your tweet after a follower of his retweeted your tweet and consequently mention it on their blog, with a link back to your website, which will positively affect your SEO efforts.
  2. Search Query Volume – As stated above, social media increases awareness of your brand – the importance of this shouldn't be understated. With more brand awareness, you'll also have more people searching for your brand name as a result. This is a good indicator to Google of your popularity and significance; they will consequently push your website up in SERPs to help users to find you more easily.
  3. Co-citation – Co-citation refers to the process of link building without actual links. Getting your company mentioned on a blog or site, without a hyperlink, is beneficial to your SEO efforts as Google believes it is reflective of your brand's status, and therefore will rank you higher because of it.
  4. Traffic Volume and Site Engagement – Your company's Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages are just one half of the SEO battle - with increased visitors to your website created through links posted, it's up to you and your team to make the content on your website interesting enough to keep visitors reading or watching. As a result, your bounce rate, pages per visit and time on site should improve, further improving your organic search engine ranking.

As Google and other search engines become ever more advanced at interpreting search intent, delivering relevant results, and fighting organic spam, the SEO tactics of yesterday simply no longer cut it. To understand what is relevant, popular, and reliable, the search engines are turning to social media - brands must also do the same.

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