Does Social Media Affect Search Rankings?

In the last couple of years, the lines between search engines and social media have blurred a bitboth for users and marketers. On the one hand, lots of everyday users (and buyers) are using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find information, not to mention products and services.

Pair these changes with the longstanding debates within the SEO community about the role of social posts and activities within search algorithms and you get a lot of confusion about the relationship between the two. So, you might be wondering: does what you do on social media affect your search engine visibility?

The short answer is “probably not,” at least not directly. However, the story doesn’t end there. To help you understand the relationship between social media activity and your Google search rankings, here are a few things you should know…

1. Google Looks for Engagement

Although business owners tend to think of keywords and links as determining their search rankings on Google, other factors are considered. One of these (recently added an emphasize) search signals has to do with engagement. The more users interact with your website—clicking on links, sharing blog posts, leaving comments, etc.—the easier it is for search spiders to determine your website is a “good” result.

This doesn’t tie in with social media directly, but it does show that Google’s programmers are looking at ways to incorporate social and user-behavior aspects into their search algorithms. As these types of indicators become more important, we can expect the lines between search and social to get even blurrier.

2. Sentiment Appears to Affect Search Results

Google’s engineers say they don’t crawl social media posts in a straightforward way. However, there are indications that search algorithms look for the online sentiment. That means that hot topics, along with positive or negative news and feedback, might factor into search visibility.

It’s likely that Google is employing some form of social listening to assist in these calculations. So, if scores of users are saying good or bad things about your business on Twitter, for example, that could indirectly affect your search rankings. As with engagement, it’s likely that social sentiment will become an even bigger search signal going forward.

3. Things Change Very Quickly

Probably the most important thing to know about the intersection of search engine optimization and social media marketing is that social sites are still growing at a rapid clip. Every day, billions upon billions of new posts and content updates are being created on Facebook and other social platforms. If Google wants to stay relevant, it’s a virtual certainty that they’ll have to start crawling that information at some point.

Additionally, there are a lot of things about the credibility of a person or business that can be gleaned from crawling their social profiles. Just looking at the age of their account, the number of followers they have, or how frequently they post new material (as examples) could all tell you something about whether buyers can trust them. Why wouldn’t Google and the other search engines look to this data when determining the order of specific search results?

Things are changing quickly in the online marketing landscape. It’s a good bet that Google will be taking these kinds of factors into account soon. In fact, they might be doing so already without our knowledge.

4. The Bottom Line on Search and Social

If you want to make the most of your online presence you should emphasize search engine optimization and social media activity. A well-balanced approach gives you more chances to meet new customers and make a positive impression on them. Additionally, search and social might not be perfectly intertwined now, but there is a good chance they’ll influence one another more directly in the near future. Why not get ahead of the curve while improving your marketing results at the same time?