There are a lot of ideas and misconceptions about the role social media plays in your Google ranking. And I’ve found lately a number of professional services putting full effort into social media while neglecting their website. They tend to believe it is all they need to do online to get business coming in. Meanwhile their competitors are reaping opportunities through Google search.

Social media alone will not improve your website rankings. Even if you’re continually linking back to your website.

From a marketing perspective, social media is necessary to help build exposure and to connect with your ideal audience in a more personal manner. And done properly, it will boost leads and help position you as an authority in your field. But you can’t expect social media alone to have a big effect on getting you ‘up there’ on Google.

Social media does help, but mostly from posting links back to quality content on your website.

Let’s compare how social media can affect your rankings directly, and indirectly through sharing content from your website.

How does social media directly affect Google ranking?

According to John Mueller, Google Switzerland, keywords and brand mentions within your public post content can rank, but links within social networks to other websites are given a ‘nofollow’. This means they are blocked from Google crawlers and not counted as backlinks to your site.

Have a listen to what John has to say (it only takes about 90 seconds):

 

So, to sum it up, social media doesn’t have a substantial direct effect on Google ranking. Social engagement, such as Likes and Shares, DO NOT influence your Google ranking. And spreading backlinks around your social platforms will not in itself boost your rankings.

Now, let’s look at a more positive outcome through indirect results.

How social media can indirectly affect your Google ranking

What social media can do is draw people to your website. And it’s from this point that you can influence your Google ranking.

It involves creating quality content on your website. That’s quality content that genuinely solves problems, answers questions and/or makes a reader’s day better.

Once people are impressed by your content, they will not only share it, but some will link to it from their own websites. These backlinks are what will earn you better rankings on Google.

Here are 3 simple steps to bring people to your website, and ultimately link back to your website:

  1. Create great content – it can include text, diagrams, references, images, video, recordings, and downloads. Whatever delivers the message well.
  2. Publish it from your blog.
  3. Share it on social networks that are relevant to your audience.

Then the organic process begins. If you’ve created content that speaks to your audience and they get value out of it, they will tend to share it with their audience and link to it from their blogs. In turn, their connections may share your content and link to it from their blogs… and so the perpetual growth continues.

You are ultimately gaining more reach and more exposure. While the backlinks become food for Google rankings.

Cycle of Social Media

Great content also means greater engagement on your website, which leads to greater rankings

This larger audience from your social media efforts are coming to your website because they are genuinely interested. You will find that your site will achieve a lower bounce rate (fewer people leaving almost immediately) and more pages visited per session. (Refer to the Google Analytics excerpt below.)

This tells Google that your website draws a lot of interest and offers value to your visitors, hence you will be rewarded with better rankings.

Website engagement

Quality content improves Google rankings.

If you have great content on your website, and you use your social presence to share that content, social media can have a substantial effect on your website’s Google rankings.

Not only are you reaching more and more people through social media, but these are genuinely interested people who will actively engage on your site, sending Google positive signals resulting in better rankings.

Posting any engaging material on social media will build up your connections and visibility there. But broadcasting great content from your website will reach beyond social media and out into the Google-sphere, bringing more prospects to you.

Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn is the founder of Think Internet, and has been helping professional companies get more business through the internet since 1997, optimising conversion rates through usability and online marketing.
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