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5 Ways Social Media Influences Your Search Rankings

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By Guest

Monday 28 January 2013

High search ranking, which is the aim of SEO, increases traffic to your site, enhances chances of conversion and thus boosts business.

It is therefore critical to understand the following:

Factors Influencing Search Rankings

Search engines like Google, use specific factors (called algorithms) to rank websites in response to a search query. In fact Google has over 200 ‘secret’ algorithms.

But SEO professionals do know that some of the important search algorithms are content relevance, links from relevant and authority websites and domain authority.

One more factor is now emerging as important search algorithm – social media.

Social Media Icons (Picture flickr user Webtreats)

Influence of Social Media on Search

Search engines aim to deliver high quality relevant content to their searchers. And content that is popular on social media is content that ‘real people’ are finding of value. Hence it is not surprising that social media presence and activity are being considered for search. Here is Matt Cutts of Google confirming the same.

Let us now see exactly how social media influences search.

5 Ways Social Media Influences Search Rankings

1. Directly Due to Social Signals

‘Social signals’ has now become a buzz term amongst SEOs. In this article both Bing and Google reveal exactly what social signals, they consider.

And two important social signals appear to be

(a) Social Recommendations

More the social recommendations (Facebook likes and shares/Twitter tweets and retweets/Google+1s) your content receives, it has greater chances of making it to the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Here is an experiment that shows the influence of social recommendations on search rankings.

Not convinced? Glance through this expansive study of top ranking websites by SearchMetrics, which showed that Facebook likes and shares (social signals) have the highest correlation with high search engine rankings.

(b) Authority of the ‘Sharer’

When your content is shared by a ‘power’ social user (say a niche influencer with many fans and followers), it carries more weight for being considered a social signal for SEO.

SEOMoz experienced this when their “Beginners Guide to SEO” was retweeted by power Twitter user Smashing Magazine resulting in the SEOMoz website ranking #4 for the term ‘Beginners Guide’. Currently the website ranks # 2 for this admittedly high competition keyword. Here are the details of this case study.

The remaining 4 ways are the indirect effects of social media to boost search rankings

2. Increased Website Traffic

When a piece of content is liked/shared/+1ed extensively on social media, it obviously means that the content is of high quality and adds value to readers’ lives. No one shares crappy content. This inevitably results in greater click-thrus to your site, enhancing the traffic to your website.

Another factor that comes into play here is the trust/credibility factor. People are more likely to trust a recommendation from friends and thus more likely to click thru to your website to read the content if it has been shared by someone they know.

And increased website traffic is a positive SEO signal.

3. Increased Natural Links

Under the Google Penguin update, natural organic links to your website/content are important ranking factors.

When you post your content on social media, people in your ‘social circle’ have the opportunity to link back to it, increasing your natural inbound links.

Besides when they share the link on their own social networks, your content gets greater exposure (which may not have been possible otherwise) and again there are chances of attracting natural back links.

And according to Matt Cutts, links still remain an important factor for ranking search results, despite the increasing influence of social signals.

4. Increased Chances of Getting Authority Back Links

In considering links for search ranking, quality of links is more important than quantity. A back link from an authority website in your niche is very valuable for SEO. The nature of social media makes this possible, though it may not happen overnight.

If you use social media strategically and focus on connecting with and establishing relationships with your niche influencers, you have greater chances of landing guest blogging opportunities on authority websites that will offer valuable back link. And the chances also increase that such authority websites may link to you on their own.

Or they may mention you on their social networks, which is a positive social signal for SEO. (Refer point 1b)

5. Helping You Become an Authority

Authority websites are ranked high in the search results.

Social media offers a platform to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. When you provide consistently high quality, valuable content (and enhance its visibility via social media), use social media to interact meaningfully with niche influencers, provide out-of-box solutions to industry issues, offer to help etc, it establishes your expertise on the subject and also enhances your credibility. More people begin to follow you, you get more high quality authoritative links and gradually you become an authority yourself.

What other ways do you feel social media influences search rankings?

This post has been written by Canada’s leading SEO consultant Yasir Khan, founder of post Penguin link building company Quantum SEO Labs.

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