Do links from social media sites really hold any SEO value?

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SEO

In a recent article, I commented thatmany SEO’s know that a link from a social media site holds substantial value insofar as the ranking score is concerned”. A guest commented that this statement was not necessarily true. I am not sure if he or she meant that it was not true that SEOs actually know that, or that it was not true that links from social media sites hold any Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) value. Either way, this comment led me to write this article where I will delve deeper into the details surrounding the perceived value of social media in SEO.

SEO is the practice of applying on-site and off-site principles to web pages in order to improve their ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Broadly speaking, on-site elements refer to the architecture and online copywriting applied to each web page to rank for targeted keywords, off-site refers broadly to the links and citations that these pages receive from contextually relevant, complementary authority websites, where the link references the keywords to further reinforce the popularity and relevance of the linking page.

The relationship between social media and SEO is becoming increasingly intertwined, as we watch Google push further integration of search and social results (such as blog posts and Google+ content) which now appear more prominently in the SERPs. With Google’s intent to incorporate personalised search in the search results pages, we will start to see more and more content that is favoured by people in social networks appear together with the content that is traditionally ranked by the Google algorithm.

There are many factors that affect how pages rank, however social media and SEO cannot be separated from one another. As social media marketing matures, it has become clear that it does have an impact on SEO. According to Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOMoz, Social is directly tied to search results as social activity drives queries, and queries influence rankings; and, as a result, businesses are more progressively collaborating their search and social marketing tactics.

A big part of SEO is fundamentally based on links. The more, relevant, quality, authoritative links you have to your site, the better your content will rank; and links from social sites like Facebook and Twitter can help you to get to the top of Google faster. Social shares such as tweets, likes and Google +1’s do carry some weight in Google’s ranking algorithm, but also adds significant value to your brand equity as a result of the increase in display visibility.

By its very nature, the social web encourages participation in various forms; such as commenting, sharing or linking. The more popular the content is, the more exposure it will receive. The more exposure this content gets, the more traffic it will receive and a result, the more likely it will be to receive direct relevant links.

How to use social media to add value to your SEO campaigns

  1. Create social networking profiles: Each profile has the potential to rank in search engine results, increasing your brand’s presence online. Ensure that your profile is active otherwise it won’t hold any value. Share your own content across these networks o encourage faster indexing by Google and quicker visibility with your target audience.
  2. Incorporate keywords in your tweets and blog posts: Share links to your web content by incorporating related keywords into the tweet or post to add thematic relevance to the content you are linking to.
  3. Use social networks to drive traffic to your web content:  Include a snippet of your content with a call to action in your tweets or blogs to encourage the visitor to go to your website to read the full content.
  4. Reach out to influential industry leaders on social networking platforms: By connecting with industry leaders on social networking sites, you start to build relationships with them. Once you start sharing their content with others, you will start to receive link love back. Once influential leaders start linking to your content, it will encourage others to want to link to your web content. The more quality links that you have from influential, industry related websites, the higher your page’s popularity will become.
  5. Encourage people to share your content: Add sharing buttons to your blog posts and content to make social sharing easy. Try to add all the most popular sharing buttons such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Digg to encourage people to share your content.

If you are not leveraging the content distribution and linking benefits that social web participation offers, then you are going to find that it might become a little more difficult to roll out an effective link-building strategy for your web content.

Don’t ignore the benefits of the social web; your competitors certainly aren’t.

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