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Tuesday 18th June 2024

Social media IS still important for your SEO

Tue 18th Feb 2014
By Todd

Social media been hailed as the new SEO and the new advertising and the new marketing, and I have to agree it’s pretty good at elements of all three. Recently the SEO argument took a hit from the main man at Google though, and it left some marketers wondering if they should be concentrating so much on social media.

Google doesn't rank social signalsMatt Cutts (head of Google’s web spam team) recently suggested that Facebook and Twitter activity do not affect your SEO as Google doesn’t rank them differently from the rest of the web. Google doesn’t look at signals such as Likes and Retweets and links on social networks to affect your ranking? Oh?! Well that just burst a rather large bubble!

Google can’t try to affect people’s ranking from the number of likes or followers, as that’s really a meaningless statistic in terms of offering value to the end user – the Googler! So you have 3000 likes on Facebook – it doesn’t mean your content is any good, and it doesn’t mean those 3000 people are engaged. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that those 3000 people are even real!

Social media IS still important for your SEO

But all is not lost with social and SEO. Social media has always affected your SEO and it always will!

So I’m just going to go against Matt Cutts here then? Well, no. As he does say that social media offers value to its users. The fact is though, social media WILL help your website rank higher in search engines and here’s why…

You may have found this article on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. You will have found this article on social media because I shared it there. You won’t have found out about it from me writing you a postcard or calling you on the phone. I know that when a post is brand new no one will find it unless I give it a boost.

Sharing content on social media (as Matt Cutts points out) is a great way to push traffic and visitors to your site and for this reason I hold social media solely responsible for my ranking on Google.

Warwicktweetup - the blogsThree years ago I started running the WarwickTweetup website. WarwickTweetup was just a small community website and was only there to offer event information and allow photos and news to be shared among people. At first it was a private site for logged-in users only.

Then, after one of the tweetup events, I posted a blog and then I shared it on Twitter and then people read it. I thought “huh, that’s pretty cool”. If I put content on the web but don’t share it on social media, not many people will find it unless I have a large group of subscribers, so social media became my output. Three years on and the old WTU site still gets great organic traffic to its pages and one of the blogs “11 reasons why Twitter is better than Facebook” is still on page 1 of Google for “Why is Twitter better than Facebook?” (as of Feb 2014).

Social media allowed my blog to be read, but because people then shared it and more people read it, more people visited it. The more people visited it, the more people liked it. The more people liked it, the more people I had who shared and sent my blog to others. It created a ground swell and it’s still alive now despite leaving having stopped blogging on the site.

Social media has helped my website to be found, and that’s what SEO does.

Google+ still not ranking from social media then, Google?

google-plus-logoGoogle may not rank pages on social or recognise social shares with Twitter and Facebook, but it’s certainly trying to show engagement through its own channel.

Google+ is a must for any marketers. Business owners need to stop stalling and join this incredible network. Yes, Google have forced us to use it. Yes, Google have given you an account because you use Gmail and you only know it because people you know have connected with you. I do think the force-feeding by Google has turned many off, but that doesn’t change anything.

Google+ is a huge network, and the communities, Hangouts and many great aspects of the platform blow Facebook out of the water. Twitter now seems very simple in comparison too, although I don’t think G+ will ever replace the sheer speed and conversation on Twitter.

But Google+ has a big brother, and strong influence. Google+ is owned by Google (yup, the clue’s in the title!) and with that comes a serious argument why social media is good for your SEO. Authorship is trying to stop the ‘anonymous’ web by allowing people to claim their content. Google Places are now linked to Google+ Pages and we’re seeing some pretty neat linkups with YouTube too (also owned by Google) to try and stop the pointless spam in the comments and hold people more accountable for their actions online.

Matt Cutts didn’t mention Google+ in his video update, and that’s because Google+ IS important to your SEO. When you click +1 a post on Google+ (try it on this one!) it actually updates the Google+ share button on the website. Go on – click and watch the number increase! When you post a link to a site from a Google+ post, experts are saying that this does affect your ranking. Google is monitoring the activity on its own social media network and it’s constantly adding new tweaks all the time.

Signals from Google+ are being watched by Google. But what about the others?

As Matt Cutts said “I’m not telling you not to use Twitter or Facebook”. Both of these networks (and many of the others) are fabulous drivers of traffic to a website and are the only reason any new site I work on gets any visitors without paying for Adwords.

Social media may not be ranked by Google, but it has to make a difference to your website’s presence and that’s effectively all SEO does anyway! Add that to the recent Google update in their Analytics ‘Acquisitions’ to show social traffic, and you can see how powerful social media is.


Google knows when and where traffic to your site comes from, and it now even shows you in a special social section on Google Analytics. Still not ranking it then, Google? Not monitoring signals from social? Just wanted to let us know how much social traffic we’re getting?

I love the direction Google is taking and I commended the recent announcement that “guest blogging is dead” because I’ve never been a cheat. I like to earn what I get; I like to feel that immense satisfaction from a hard day’s work. I like to see all the traffic to my website and think “these people really wanted to be here!”

Social media is important to your SEO in that it allows people to find you. Social media allows you to engage with your audience and social media encourages people to visit your website and find out more about you. THAT’S why social media is important to your website. Just because it doesn’t directly affect your SEO through ranking it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect it!

Graham Todd tweeting for Jo's Correctional Facility in Warwickshire
Find me on Google+ +GrahamTodd

Keep it social to drive interest to your business and the people will come… to your website – and that IS a signal Google ranks!

Over to you…

What do you think? Is social still a powerful force for ranking or being found online?

Is social media actually more powerful than ever before?

Add your comments below – we’d love to hear from you.

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2 comments on this article

  • Nick Lucey at 23:00pm on February 18th 2014

    For a while it’s been pretty widely agreed that Google isn’t taking ranking signals from social networks, and there isn’t yet much evidence that Google is using G+ as a ranking factor either (yet). With the penguin invasion on manipulating search rankings through spammed links, you could say Google is need of a new human indicator of high value content, and I think this is where the idea that social will be the future of ranking signals comes from.

    Until then, it’s still about links. But instead of getting away with posting “Great post [insert keyword link here]” in comments thousands of times across the blogosphere, content producers are having to earn their links by making themselves known, building relationships, getting a reputation – and social media (for better or for worse) is probably the most powerful way of doing this online.

    This flip side to this is that small businesses don’t need to compete for ‘vanity’ searches the way they often think they do. Instead of getting a tiny slice of one very competitive, very generic search, businesses can build up a bank of content that allows them to rank no.1 for thousands of much more specific search terms, that on their own don’t drive a lot of traffic, but put together are ultimately more likely to result in sales.

    The down side to this for the small business, is that being the great at what you do is no longer enough. You now have to great at writing about what you do as well. (or I suppose you could hire someone to do it for you 😉 ).

    1. Graham Todd at 23:31pm on February 18th 2014

      Thanks for your excellent and comprehensive comment, Nick.

      I totally agree about the poor small business owner too. They really do have a chance but it does mean they have to be brilliant at a lot more now… one of the main reasons our business exists though – so we don’t knock it! 😉

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