Social Signals and SEO

Social media concept

Do social signals help your SEO (search engine optimization)?  This is one of the most divisive questions in online marketing today.  Social signals are “shares”, “likes”, comments, retweets, +1’s etc. on social media posts.  At one time it was believed that social signals were an integral part of the algorithm that Google uses to rank a web page.  More recently, however, Google has denied that social signals play any role in search engine ranking.

That being said, there’s no doubt that having a strong social media presence can help boost your website’s SEO.  Our clients have seen a dramatic improvement in their website ranking after incorporating a comprehensive social media campaign to their overall SEO strategy.  This is supported by a number of studies including this one by SEO company, Moz: http://moz.com/search-ranking-factors.

Instead of focusing on the polarizing social signals aspect of social media, perhaps the more important question is: How IS social media helping SEO?  At DigitalMed, we believe there are 3 key answers to this question:

  1. By Increasing Inbound Links to Your Website: Inbound links are undeniably an important part of good SEO practices. Credible inbound links increase a site’s authority. The one thing everyone can agree on is that Google tries to display the most trusted, relevant websites in your search results for particular keywords.  The takeaway here is to make sure your social media posts contain a link to a page on your website.  It is these links, included in engaging posts, which can directly affect your SEO rankings.
  2. By Increasing Traffic to Your Website: Even without the above benefit of link-building, social media definitely increases brand awareness which can increase traffic to your website.  A well-designed website can then convert that traffic into new patients for your practice.  Google definitely takes traffic patterns into consideration when ranking pages.  Including links in your social media posts is a sure way to increase this traffic.
  3. By Increasing Your Website’s Real Estate on Search Engines: Social media profiles rank in search engine results.  Let’s face it: When you do a keyword search, the site that has the most results on the first page for that keyword appears to be the “best” site for what you’re searching for.  The same is true when patients search for a doctor.  When you have a strong social media presence, your social media sites will show in the search results in addition to your website.  This can help build your credibility with patients for your area of expertise.

Conclusion:  Whether or not social signals are incorporated into Google’s ever-changing, extremely complex algorithms really isn’t relevant.   Google ranking is all about finding the “best” websites for each keyword search. This means that your main goal for SEO must be about boosting the credibility, or authority, of your website. Through inbound links, increased traffic to your website and an increase in your real estate on search engines for your target keywords, social media can help boost your website’s credibility.  This can then lead to better search engine ranking. Think of it as a way for your patients to “vote” for the quality of your content.  In order to encourage them to do so, you need to continually publish high quality, relevant content.  The more “likes”, “shares”, comments, retweets, +1’s and linkbacks your website gets from your social media posts, the more authority your site has.  Therefore, creating engaging content for your social media sites is a must for success.  For that reason alone, social media can be a game-changer in the ever-fickle world of SEO.

We think Sonia Simone, co-founder and Chief Content Officer of CopyBlogger, summed up the relationship between social signals and Google’s SEO tactics best with the following quote: “Google is a lot like that really mean girl from high school.”  In a nutshell, the easiest way to win over that mean girl from high school is to make everyone else like you first.  By gaining popularity on social media platforms through the publishing of quality content, you’re essentially proving to Google that your website is worthy of their attention.

Related Blogs:  SEO 101, The 3 Major Advantages of Social Media vs. Traditional Print Advertising, Content Marketing:  Your Rx for Better SEO

Categories: Branding, SEO, Social Media

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