The Power of Social

Coordinating an SEO strategy brings forth many options including improved medatada, content creation, semantic markup, and more. But when it comes to social media, it can sometimes be left on the back burner. We all know the importance of creating a social media presence, but how often do clients engage with these various platforms?

We may not know the full extent of how social media affects organic search and still have yet to see any conclusive evidence. And while their precise impact is up for debate, social media and social signals are important assets to your organic strategy. With that in mind, here are some of the major benefits of creating a robust social media presence, and how it might affect organic search.

Social media icons


Boost Brand Awareness and Build Authority

Creating an authority building strategy is necessary for SEO and organic search. We’re always striving to find new ways to promote a site, gaining links and trust, signaling to Google and other search engines that our content should rank above all else. Social media goes hand in hand with building this all-too-important authority, not only allowing the brand to create and craft its own image but increasing its awareness and reach.

Expand Your Backlink Profile

Creating a robust and engaging social media presence helps build authority by various indirect methods. First, a strong social presence may help boost traffic to your website, exposing your content to a larger amount of people. Increased visibility leads to a greater chance of your content being shared and linked to on various blogs and websites, thus increasing your backlink profile.


Social media also helps expand your network, connecting you with other leaders in the industry. Making an effort to network within your industry can lead to more authority building opportunities, such as guest blogging, podcast interviews, and more. Additionally, when you connect with innovators and thought leaders on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or even Instagram, your shared content will only increase the speed in which you grow your own authority and reputation online.

Strong Social Presence May be Correlated with Better Rankings (Indirectly)

Larry Kim wrote a great post for Moz on the relationship between organic rankings and social shares, and brought up an interesting argument on how they are related, but not in the way you may think. In his post, he explains that while we may love to speculate how social media affects organic rankings due to a correlation between high share counts on social and high organic search rankings, it’s not what we think it is.
And we all know correlation doesn’t equal causation. Right?

Correlation does not equal causation cartoon

Yes, we’ve been noticing this relationship between high social shares and organic rankings for a while, but what exactly is going on? Especially since Google continues to deny any factoring of social shares into their algorithm. No. Nope.Not at all.

Instead, what might be going on is simply highly engaging content. To put it more exactly, high engagement rates on both social media platforms and in organic search are both being rewarded with more social shares and higher organic rankings.

So while social shares may not be directly correlated with increased visibility in organic search, the two remain connected via engaging content. Creating posts that get lots of shares, likes, and comments are getting rewarded with increased visibility, leading them to even more shares, likes, and comments. The same can be said for above-average CTR in Google and increased visibility in search.

Larry Kim said it best, “Content with remarkably high engagement rates has high conversion rates and does incredibly well in paid organic search and social media, because of machine learning systems that greatly reward remarkably high user engagement.”

Social Channels Also Rank in Search Engines

Google treats Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin pages like any other page for search. What does this mean? Social media channels and profiles will rank in Google just like any other web page, increasing the chances that your brand will rank.

When searching for the popular glasses company, Warby Parker, their Twitter feed popped up, along with their Instagram profile ranking at #2, and their Facebook profile ranking in at #7.

Screenshot of Warby Parker SERPS results

If you have tons of people visiting your social platforms and pages, you’ll notice they’ll start ranking on their own. Additionally, Twitter will show up high in the search results, partly due to an agreement that Google can index tweets. This agreement doesn’t just help your Twitter profile, but individual tweets as well. A study of more than 900,000 Tweets found that tweets with more likes have a better chance of ranking higher in Google results.

It’s no doubt that each social media channel can bring about new opportunities to display your content and products, with each platform giving you a new chance to shine. I personally enjoy going directly to a company’s Instagram or Twitter feed to gain a greater understanding of the brand’s image, personality, and purpose. And using these channels will only increase your visibility to potential customers. Plus, having multiple pages that you control ranking for your brand terms will help you with brand reputation management, and keep competitors from ranking for your brand terms.

Social Media as a Search Engine

While Google may dominate search, it’s no question that many people are using social media platforms as search tools.With hashtags and an ability to query almost anything, many people are bypassing Google and going straight to Instagram (or Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn or Pinterest). And with 3.03 billion active social media users, not having a social media presence can hinder any potential visitors from finding you and your brand through a simple search for content or tweets related to your industry.

Screenshot of Twitter search example
Example of a Twitter Search

And the stats of social media search are astounding. Pinterest is seeing over 2 billion searches per month, Facebook sees 2 billion searches per day, and Twitter sees 2.1 billion searches per day back. As social media continues to grow It’s more important than ever to have an updated, engaged, and strong social media presence, utilizing hashtags and keywords to make your content readily available and easy to find for anyone searching in your sphere.

You can learn more here about optimizing your social media content for search.

Build Trust

Paul Gillin, the author of The New Influencers, talks about the importance of social media and the building of brand awareness. One of his main takeaways is that 78% of consumers trust one another more than they trust advertising.

As consumers, we tend to trust a site (or business) more when recommended by someone personally. When a brand has a strong social presence, not only is it easier to share amongst friends and family, but it lends itself to being seen as more familiar.

We’re more likely to read a blog post, tweet, or Facebook post that was recommended by someone we know than click on an ad. Social media has the ability to build our trust, not only through sharing great content, but also the potential to solve problems, and potentially repair a bad experience had by the customer.

Example of customer service via Twitter business accounts
Seamless Using Their Twitter Account as a Customer Service Tool

And while great customer service on Twitter may not directly affect SEO, the increased social shares from a viral interaction will surely help increase trust, likes, backlinks, and more.

Will social media signals ever directly affect search engine rankings? That’s still up for debate. But for now, it’s important not to discount the power of social when it comes to SEO. We live in a world of constant sharing and communication, and for a company to not have social profiles or engage with them could be a big blow to their brand’s potential.


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