Are You Getting the Full SEO Benefits of Social Media?

Google's Ranking Factors
Ranking factors in order of impact. From study done by (click to enlarge)

Most people who keep up with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) understand that there are many different factors that go into how Google calculates your search engine rankings. In fact, it’s been stated the number of factors lie somewhere above 200.

One of the biggest factors with current updates are the social media signals analyzed by Google. Searchmetrics released a recent study into the importance of each ranking signal and how much they impact your results; social media signals were at the top of the list.

No longer is it all about link building, a technique that often tosses webmasters into a gray area. That doesn’t mean that link building, on-site SEO, and other basics are ignorable.

It means that social media needs to be implemented into your current strategy. Is your brand already sharing content actively on social platforms? Below are some of the basics about social media and SEO.

If your content is being shared often, Google realizes that people like your content. Another big piece of the ranking algorithm. Start by encouraging your visitors to share your content, thereby increasing your likelihood of appearing on Google’s top result pages. Sometimes all it takes is a simple call-to-action. “Please share this page if you enjoyed our content.”

If you want to maximize the potential for social media boosts to your rankings, you’ll need to install social sharing tools onto your website, making sure that every page of content has its own dedicated share button.

Social Media Sharing PluginFor WordPress users, there are multiple plugins that are as simple as hitting “Install,” then “Activate.” Some popular plugins are Flare, ShareThis, Slick Social Share Buttons, and Really simple Facebook Twitter share buttons.

For people who are not on WordPress, ShareThis works on Drupal, Joomla, Blogger, and many other platforms. Just choose the platform you use and ShareThis will walk you through each step.

SEO and Social Media: the basics
Image by Master isolated images, courtesy

Once your social plugins are up and running, checking your content’s current social standing is easy. You need to know how often your content is shared, and many plugins provide this information for users.  There are also dedicated tools to help you analyze how your content is shared on social media.

Monitoring Socials lets you see how many times your content has been shared on all the popular social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and more. However, each page needs to be checked individually (a time-consuming process), so plugins are the easier way to go.

It’s time to start paying attention to how shareable your content is. If your website is getting a lot of visitors and is content-based — but lacks social shares — you should be thinking about how that may affect your rankings.

What steps do you take to make sure your website encourages sharing?

  • The general consensus of the SEO community about this study is that a) this is correlation, not causation 2) The correlation coefficients are not statistically significantly. A correlation of 0.4 is a very weak correlation. It needs to be much higher, some where in the vicinity of 0.8.

    • you are such a geek, @pshapiro:disqus. And thank you for the insights – it always pays to be highly skeptical of stats.
      That said, do you agree with the conclusions anyway?

      • where I called you a geek, I meant to add a smiley face. :-)

        • @Tonia_Ries:disqus I know :-)
          Despite the flawed study, social is extremely important to SEO.

    • Thanks for commenting, Paul! I could definitely see it being more correlation which is why social “signals” is a pretty good term for it. If your content tends to be solid then chances are it’ll be shared more often.

      Like Tonia said, being skeptical is a good thing and I’m glad you pointed it out. :)

  • Hi Vincent,

    I post share buttons along the side and top portion of my post. I also encourage sharing in my video posts and make notes in the text as well, to share freely. As you noted in this spot on post a simple call to action makes a difference in the amount of shares you receive, and Google is getting it right; if you attract shares, your content deserves a higher placing in the Big G.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!


    • Hey Ryan,

      Thanks for sharing your successes with us. People don’t always remember to share what they like. Really, I don’t remember all the time too. In the back of my head I know a lot of people would find a certain piece compelling, but then I’d forget. I’m much more likely to hit share when I’m reminded.

      That’s what they are. Reminders!

  • socialstrategi

    Thanks, Vincent for the article. I liked Sometimes all it takes is a simple call-to-action. “Please share this page if you enjoyed our content.” I think I need to start implementing that in my blog posts.

    • You’re welcome, Shilpi! It definitely helps. I get a lot of engagement on my own website and people ask me how. Well, that’s one way. :)

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