Often I am asked questions like “Does posting on my Facebook page build me links?” Or “Does social media help with SEO?”. These are great questions and the general answer is, yes. However, it is important to understand which social media platforms help the most and how each one assists with search engine optimization. Each social media platform has its own benefits and treats content differently. Here are some of the most utilized social media services and a breakdown of their SEO value.
Facebook is an interesting breed. Does Facebook have a direct impact on SEO? The answer would be, maybe. Part of Facebook is currently blocked from Google’s crawlers, which means a lot of the content on Facebook is not read or indexed by search engines. So it can’t be stored in Google’s virtual filing cabinet. If users have adjusted their privacy settings within their account, Google is completely banned from crawling their personal profiles and information. However, according to Search Engine Journal, other Facebook posts seem to be finding their way into the Google index including limited view profiles, Fan Pages and their associated comments and posts, and comments left on third-party websites using a Facebook widget or plugin. Also, when an article on your blog is liked or shared on Facebook using a social media add-on, it is highly likely that Google can read this, sending out a social signal. And as it’s been said, higher shares and likes correlate with higher rankings.
Twitter’s links are tagged with a no-follow, meaning they do not pass any link value. The key with Twitter is getting the right people to follow you. If an influential person is following you and retweets your content, the likelihood of getting links built to the content within is high. Often when an article we write is tweeted and retweeted by highly influential people, other writers will write blog posts in response to ours and cite our original post as a reference. Overall, the relationships built through Twitter are much more powerful than Twitter itself.
Sharing content on your Google+ page has the largest direct impact on search engine rankings. There are some obvious reasons for this. First, Google is a little biased (aren’t we all) and they are pushing users to utilize this platform. However, there are other reasons Google+ can be valuable from an SEO perspective. Posting on G+ allows your content to be indexed immediately. This was one of the promises given with the Google Buzz product, which has essentially been gobbled up and incorporated into Google+. And as we all know by now, getting your content indexed is key.
Pinterest has the potential to spread content like wildfire. When we pinned an image incorporated into a guest post for one of our clients, it was repinned over 40 times in 30 minutes. Again, like many other social media platforms, Pinterest’s links are no-follow. So the value of the link comes from its ability to be cited in someone else’s blog or website, not in the link from Pinterest.com itself.
I love LinkedIn. I believe LinkedIn is a golden nugget for businesses. I don’t care if Google does or does not crawl it, every business should utilize it. With that said, it is reported that Google loves to crawl LinkedIn Profiles, which makes it a double whammy! Having a LinkedIn profile for your business is a big win. It adds legitimacy to your website and company, it creates another method of entry for your site, and it gives you a link. In fact, I have seen ranking changes simply because a LinkedIn profile was created and linked to the business’ website. The link itself is again a no-follow. However, this may be a good example of co-occurrence, where a legit authoritative site is citing a company or person so Google gives it weight.
In the end, social media is best used as a tool to distribute content, not to build direct links. In SEO, two things are certain. One, Google loves great content, and two, Google likes links. Turns out these two things go hand in hand! Distributing award-winning content provides opportunities for earning links. The more a webpage is shared, liked, tweeted, pinned, etc. the more visibility it has, which means the chances of people reading it and building natural, relevant authoritative links to it increases tenfold. I find it no coincidence that shares and links have the highest correlation to website rankings, and neither should you!