Depending on who you talk to, the link between search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media is an important one.
Whilst many in the Australian SEO world will tell you there is no actual benefit of social media in terms of your organic rankings, there are plenty of indirect benefits from social media that are important, especially for new businesses and smaller businesses hoping to compete with larger competitors.
Both channels are absolutely critical when it comes to building your brand online. From product discovery to helping people to do their research before making a purchase, social media and organic search are both extremely valuable platforms that help to showcase you brand and your products.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation is the process of optimising your website in order to rank well in organic search results such as Google. Your goal is to increase both the quantity and quality of the traffic you drive to your website by targeting the most relevant keywords to your business and optimising your content around those keywords.
Other than the time it takes to optimise both the technical aspects of your website as well as the content, SEO is a free tactic that allows websites to compete with others in the search results without having to pay.
It is widely regarded as a long term strategy as it can take between 6-12 months for your site to be able to build enough authority to rank for the keywords you are targeting.
What is social media marketing?
According to Investopedia, “Social media marketing (SMM) is the use of social media websites and social networks to market a company’s products and services.”
DigitalMarketing.org take that definition one step further, “Social media marketing is the process of creating tailored content for each social media platform to drive engagement and promote your business.”
For businesses, social medial platforms are an opportunity to extend the reach of their brand through the channels that their target customers are using.
How are SEO and social media linked?
There is often some debate in the SEO community about the connection between social media and SEO. It is widely accepted that social media signals do not impact on rankings in Google, however, as recently as April 2021, Google’s John Mueller made an interesting comment on Twitter:
Whilst this might not tell us about the impact of social media signals on rankings, it does seem to suggest that people recommending content to others could be considered a social signal and that this could in fact play a part in determining how sites rank for targeted keywords.
Whilst the direct link between social media and organic ranking may never be known, there is no question that social media impacts SEO in other ways.
Social media sites rank well in Google
One thing you will notice when you search for a brand on Google is that, alongside their website, their social media profiles will often rank on the first page of the search results.
This is an extremely powerful way of improving your brand recognition. If someone searches for your brand and sees your website and then some of your competitors, then it’s possible that they may choose to click on their sites and not yours.
When you have active, well-optimised social media profiles, you stand a much better chance of dominating the first page of the search results for all branded search queries through both your website and your social media platforms.
Depending on the results, sometimes your latest Tweets can be pulled into the search results, again, helping to increase your brand visibility and draw attention to your latest posts.
Facebook results will often show review star ratings for your business and this can really help to provide further social proof to your prospective customers that are searching in organic search.
Social media sites drive considerable traffic to your website
Regardless of whether it’s a ranking factor or not, there can be no doubt that social media platforms can drive a significant amount of traffic to your website when they are managed effectively.
Understanding your audience and the content they are likely to engage with can really help to send valuable clicks to your website. You can use Google Analytics to compare the traffic you get from social media to other channels including organic, paid and email and see how much engagement you get from those platforms. This can then be used to drive your social media content strategy, focussing more on the types of posts that drive higher engagement.
Big brands focus on SEO and social media
You only have to look at the biggest brands in the world to understand the importance of both SEO and social media. Here are just a few examples:
Boohoo has really focussed on its social media strategy in order to drive engagement, and ultimately revenue. In May 2020, they reported that sales were up by 45% and one of the biggest factors influencing this was their very active use of social media. They have placed particular emphasis on Instagram where they have amassed over 8m followers and their use of influencers has been a key part of their winning strategy.
Online casinos, such as Betway have a digital-first focus and they maximise their brand reach through both social medial and SEO. From interviewing professional athletes and providing quality betting insights, to epic video production, they use their social media profiles to enhance their on-site experiences and this has helped them to grow their brand, reaching millions globally.
With a whopping 22.5m followers on Twitter, PlayStation is one of the most followed brands on social media. PlayStation has seen a 376% growth in followers in the past five years alone, adding 12 million followers from 2014 to 2019. In an article by eConsultancy, they note that “One of the reasons for this is how active it is on the platform, continuously posting a mix of content to engage fans including new game trailers, gaming footage, and streaming events.”