How does Social Media Affect SEO?

Digital marketers or just people who want to boost the amount of traffic that is being sent to their websites, can spend a considerable amount of time and money on SEO and social media. Whilst some search engines such as Bing do admit to using social media as an algorithm to determine their search rankings, Google – by far the most popular search engine uses only its own social network – Google+.

So when we see correlations between social media activity and SEO – specifically in Google rankings, what does that mean?

Social media does affect your SEO ranking. It's not a major factor but it's significant enough to pay attention to it.

Social media does affect your SEO ranking. It's not a major factor but it's significant enough to pay attention to it.

Sharing Makes Links

One of the best features of social media is the ability to share content. It is a great way for businesses to make themselves known as well as engaging with potential customers and generally showing off their knowledge – and that they know what they are talking about.

Whilst this doesn’t directly affect SEO or Google search rankings, a higher amount of engagement and sharing will inevitably result in a higher number of links being made to your content. If your content is noticed by a blogger, author or journalist, they may well put a link through to your content and these links have a positive effect on your SEO.

If you want to really maximize the effect of the sharing of your social media content, you need to make your content as visible as possible to other content creators so that they will know that it exists. This means that you should be trying to build online relationships with these people.

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User Interaction Signals

Let’s be honest here. If you have gone to a site following a Google search, Google are bound to be able to tell certain details such as how long you spent on the site, or if you travelled around it, or just returned straight back to Google because the information wasn’t what you were looking for.

Google uses information such as the amount of time that you spend on a particular site, and the amount of social media interaction that has occurred to help to understand the popularity and usefulness of a piece of content. So the number of shares, likes, tweets or retweets can also affect your website’s SEO as they are signals that people enjoyed your content or found it to be useful.


Rankings are an Outcome, Not an Action

It is important to remember that SEO rankings are an outcome to the work that you put in across both your SEO and social media. Google see linking as a social activity, and these links can have a massive effect on your Google rankings.

Social media – amongst other things – can be used to boost the possibility of getting links to and from your website or a specific piece of content, by content creators – or other people. This will help you by automatically creating more traffic, but also by proving to Google how popular and knowledgeable you are as well as giving you those all-important links which can help to boost your SEO.

Just like everything else in marketing, it is all about building good relationships, and if you build good relationships the right way, the SEO will follow.



Steven Matt

I am the Director of Digital Marketing at one of the world’s largest financial institutions. I teach Digital Marketing courses to small businesses on behalf of the NYC government and General Assembly in NYC. I am a graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a Bachelors degree in Communications Design. I have a Masters degree in Management and Technology from New York University. In my spare time, I organize volunteer glass cleanups in NYC parks and I make jewelry out of the broken glass that I and the volunteers collect. I sell the designs at an artisan market in Brooklyn.