Social Media Marketing is all the buzz in today’s internet marketing space. With the evolution of SEO, Google is now taking into consideration “social signs” into its algorithm for ranking websites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Social media marketing (as it relates to Google or SEO) broadly refers to activities on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. According to many studies and research, social media marketing may account to a whopping 25% of the Google algorithm (depending on the industry). This is especially true if all your competitors are engaging in aggressive social media marketing through these channels.
With the new updated Google “social media” algorithm, I have heard a lot of hue and cry as to why social signs are being used at all in regards to SEO. Having been in the SEO space for many years, I have yet to see a single Google update that did not have a logical and rational reasoning behind it. People forget that Google employs some of the brightest minds in the world and most of their engineers have PhD’s, so we must give them a little bit of credit. For those wondering why social media signs are important for Google, keep reading.
Why Are Social Signs Important?
When we think of ranking No. 1 for a particular keyword, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For me, it means “popularity.” When a website ranks No. 1 for a competitive keyword, it tells searchers that the website is not only authoritative, but it’s also popular (which is why people are linking to the site to begin with). Now let’s take this concept one step further. If a site is ranking No. 1 for a competitive keyword, should it not have a strong social media presence as well? Of course, this depends on the industry. B2B websites will typically not have a very strong social media presence because people are not linking or tweeting about those types of services. But on the B2C level, customers do tweet and like brands and products that interest them. If someone saves money on a plane ticket, they typically tweet or share it with friends. If a consumer saves money purchasing something on Amazon, they talk about their experience through some social media platform. The list goes on. Much in the same way, Google has come to realize that websites that do not have a strong social media presence AND they are ranking No.1 for a competitive keyword probably got there through manipulative link building methods. With a big budget, it’s very possible to acquire some of the best quality links. On the other hand, acquiring a strong and legitimate social media presence is much more challenging. You can buy links, but it’s hard to buy engagement on social media platforms. Imagine how expensive it would be to pay 10,000 real people to talk and like every piece of content your company puts out each and every day or week. Again, with a large budget, anythings possible, but we are strictly talking about the norm and not the exception.
Let’s take a small example. If you are located in the US, type in the keyword “coffee” (a highly competitive keyword) into Google. No doubt Wikipedia show’s up, but right after that, you will see Starbucks. Now let’s take a look at Starbucks Facebook profile. Looking at the figures will astonish anyone. Their Facebook fan page has 35 million likes, 333K people talking about the brand and 8 million people were in some store making a purchase. Those numbers are huge in terms of social engagement. So the question is, does Starbucks deserve to be at the top of the results for a competitive keyword? Keeping in mind the “popular” nature of a No. 1 rank, we can conclude with a strong “yes.” Not only does the website have a strong backlink profile (2.2 million links), they also have a strong social media presence to back it up.
As time passes, we will continue to see new “verification” methods that Google will include in it’s algorithm. These “verifications” as I like to call them, are simply a way of double checking that a website is what it claims to be. Enterprising and creative minds have already begun to find ways to manipulate social networks to benefit their SEO campaigns. It’s only a matter of time before Google updates its algorithm once again. Question is, what will be next? Some point to off-line methods, but this is pure speculation at this point. Only time will tell which direction Google takes in fine tuning its already complex algorithm. Stay tuned.