The short answer? Yes. Your social profiles are a crucial tool in a marketer’s toolkit.
After some back and forth from Matt Cutts, Google’s former Head of Search Quality, the consensus is that social SEO is important, just not to Google’s search engine algorithm.
His final comments on the matter were that social media pages are indexed the same way as any other pages. That said, the number of followers will not improve your search engine rankings.
I know what you’re thinking. Google is by far the dominant player in the search engine market, so if they don’t care, then is social SEO a waste of time?
Definitely not! Read on to find out why your social profiles are an important part of your marketing strategy.
Why You Need to Focus on Social SEO
Some experts argue that social will become the new SEO once Google has addressed some concerns about the platforms. Primarily, it needs to be able to weed out things like fake followers and false engagement. Once this has been accomplished, social will become a big part of how search engine rankings are determined.
Furthermore, spending time on social isn’t just waiting for some future benefit. There are strong advantages to building a visible social presence even outside of Google search rankings.
Social Media Platforms Are Also Search Engines
For years, when businesses and marketers talked about SEO, they were talking about traditional search engines, namely Google. But it’s well past the time to only be thinking only in terms of traditional search engines.
Consider this: YouTube is the second largest search engine, processing three billion searches per month. They’re followed by Amazon in third place and Facebook in fourth.
It’s easy to forget that social media platforms are search engines as well, since social searches lead to a company’s page on that platform as opposed to the company’s official website.
But think about your own social media habits.
For example, many people prefer to use Facebook or Instagram to find out about a new restaurant or cafe. On Instagram, we can find real photos of the food and venue. Facebook gives us real user reviews of the place as well as information about any promotions.
YouTube sees over a hundred hours of new video uploads every minute, translating to six billion hours of videos viewed per month. By creating a channel and putting content on YouTube, you get access to this immense volume of search queries. If you don’t, you’re leaving a huge potential traffic source untapped.
Social Media Profiles Are Displayed on Google
Matt Cutts states in the 2014 video that pages on social media websites are indexed just like any other pages on the internet based on “if something occurs” on that page.
This phrase led to a lot of head scratching at the time from marketers around the world. What exactly did Cutts mean? There are many actions and interactions on a social media page, but what constitutes an “occurrence?”
While we’ll never know the exact details of Google’s algorithms, even knowing that the pages themselves are indexed should tell marketers that these social profile pages are important.
This means that even though the number followers you have on Facebook or other social media platforms do not improve your search engine rankings, these pages can rank on their own right.
If you search “Nike” in Google, the third, fifth and sixth results link to their official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. For Adidas, the Facebook pages for their Originals and regular collections are on the first page of the search engine.
Social Media Profiles Help with Link Building
If you’re thinking, “Why would social media links matter if they aren’t seen by Google?”, you’re still missing out on the fundamental power of social networks.
Firstly, if one of your Facebook posts has a lot of shares and reactions, then this is a great indicator that your content is resonating with your audience. Google Analytics can tell you how long someone stays on a page, but it can’t tell you the emotions that person is feeling.
Secondly, and more importantly to why social SEO is crucial, these shares are an incredible opportunity for link building.
Every time your content is shared, it’s seen by more people who may then link to it themselves from their own website. This increases your Quality Score in the eyes of Google and helps improve your company’s website ranking on search engine results.
Additionally, when you see who is sharing your content and the search queries that are bringing traffic to your website, you’ll get a better idea of which keywords you should be optimising for and monetising.
You Can Build a Local Community with Social Media
One of the reasons that social media platforms became so popular is that they’re a better version of the old chat rooms and interest websites that dominated the internet in the late 1990s and early aughts.
People love to interact with communities based on their interests, whether it’s various fandoms or commercial brands. Brands, especially small business with limited marketing budgets, can benefit immensely by creating locally optimised social media posts.
One way to do that is actually to get offline. Find other businesses in your area that you can do partnerships with or get involved in local events that are in line with your business. By posting to social media and using local hashtags on your posts about local events, you’re raising your profile in the community.
Google Is Constantly Changing Their Search Algorithm
If you’ve been in search engine marketing for a few years, you’ll know that the only truth is that nothing is constant.
We constantly see debates over the right ways to build links, or whether guest posting is worthwhile. Even Google went back and forth on how their search engine indexes social media pages.
What we can pretty much guarantee is that Google is well aware of the impact of social media on how we make purchases and it’s only a matter of time before social media has more influence on search engine rankings.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Ignore Social SEO!
Ultimately, social media is here to stay and brands that ignore the importance of social SEO will struggle to have their voices heard.
Contact us to get your FREE Local SEO Report and find out how we can help you with local lead generation.