Back in 2010, Matt Cutts went on the record to say that Google’s algorithm does, in fact, use social signals as a ranking factor in search results. In other words, the more followers and likes accumulated by your social media profiles, the higher you’d rank in the SERPs. For years, inbound marketers and search engine optimizers operated under these assumptions, focusing their efforts on building a large social following – even if it meant paying for followers. However, in January 2014, Google flipped their stance, and Matt Cutts announced that social signals were no longer a part of the algorithm rank factor.
According to Cutts:
"Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index. If something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to say 'you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook,' to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms."
With so many different social media profiles out there, it’d be impossible for Google to crawl and index each one frequently enough to keep up with their ever-changing follower and like counts. Rather than making things difficult on their engineers, they simply monitor the on-page elements that they’re able to crawl.
So what does this mean for my social media marketing strategy?
For starters, if you’ve been paying for likes or followers on Facebook and Twitter, just stop. Not only do they have zero SEO value, but they also tarnish your credibility as a brand. Besides, what’s the point of promoting your content to an audience of fake profiles? Are you hoping it will lead to some fake sales opportunities?
Joking aside, there are still many benefits to using social media and growing your brand’s social audience. Though your social signals might not have impact on your SEO, your posting activity and profile optimization both do. The more you post crawl-able content for Google to index, the more authority that page will be given, and the higher those social media profiles will rank in search. Likewise, a keyword rich bio/description will also help those profiles rank higher in search.
For example, what happens when you Google your company’s name?
Looking at our results, you notice that our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram profiles all rank in the top 5 search results behind our website. Is it a coincidence that these are our four most active social media accounts? We don’t think so. And while this might only be useful when searchers are looking for information about your company already, it never hurts to boost the visibility of your social media profiles.
Regardless of its impact on your SEO, however, social media is an integral part to any inbound marketing strategy. It’s the #1 way for brands to promote their content to a broad audience, and it can help drive a considerable amount of traffic back to your website. Not to mention its ability to help improve your brand’s thought-leadership and credibility! Want to learn more? Download our free eBook below: