Social Media is arguably the backbone of today’s online society. What started out as a minor movement in Silicon Valley, snowballed into one of the most drastic shifts in the online landscape that history has ever seen. Social Media has become so much of a staple, that there is a similar attitude towards it as what people have toward search engines like Google; “If it’s not on Facebook, it doesn’t exist.”
As webmasters, we would be foolish to ignore these platforms if we aim to do effective Search Engine Optimisation for our clients – but how does Social Media fit into our SEO mix? Is it part of our backlink cocktail? Let’s find out together…
Social Media: What it is Today
With platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (owned by Facebook), FourSquare, Reddit and many, many more, one is simply inundated with choices of which to choose nowadays. Each offers something unique, a different experience. But too, they each offer a different type of consumer, a differently shaped social structure (i.e. the way people share information), and how that information get distributed outwards.
Each started out with their core functionalities. We will be using Facebook as our case study, simply because it is the one we should all be the most familiar with. Years ago, FB’s core functions were that you could easily find your old friends, befriend them, chat and share photos, like and comment on what other have shared. In the years following that, FB’s environment grew to include advertising that brands could pay to have people see, pages specifically focused around a particular topic (e.g. Coffee Shop, Celebrities etc.) and much more.
Facebook has actually grown to such an extent that it has a user base with the third largest population, if it were a country. It has also started to dabble with Artificial Intelligence, as well as being a global online force to be reckoned with. All this is fantastic, but how can one use it for the purposes of SEO?
The SEO Factor
So, continuing to use Facebook as our example. Social Media platforms allow the sharing of information, be in the form of Statuses, Comments, or Shared content. What’s more is that they don’t have a policy against the inclusion of links in these snippets of shared information. See where we are going with this trail of thought? You guessed it, Backlinks! You remember? The backbone of SEO? The ranking holy grail?
Backlinks, Yes! Or No?
Luckily for you, our dear Reader, this is not some new and utterly complex skill that you need to memorise. Creating backlinks on Social Media platforms are undoubtedly easy to do, and the account posting the links would not be penalised for doing so. One small thing though, the links will be No-Follow backlinks. If you remember from our article on Do-Follow vs. No-Follow backlinks, we concluded that No-Follow backlinks refer to another website, but that that website will not benefit from the SEO ‘juice’ of the website doing the referring. So what now?
Two Reasons to Remain Invested
Reason 1: Your Backlink Cocktail
As we referred to in a previous article, your backlink cocktail is one highly important element to keep in mind here. You want to have a healthy mixture of both Do-Follow and No-Follow backlinks referring to your website. This emulates the natural behavior that Search Engines would anticipate a blogger/webmaster would have.
Reason 2: Diverting Traffic
So although the links may not boost your site in the ways of SEO, it could be of great help in another way; footfall. See, one of the main indicators to a Search Engine on how trustworthy your website is, is dependent on how many people visit it, and stay to visit more than one page (reduced bounce rate). Using this logic, if you had to create a simple Social Media strategy that would see a community grow around the website’s brand, people could be incentivised to visit the site, creating a sharing culture, and eventually a self-sustaining community that contribute to the brand’s eventual success.
This is by no means a short-term solution – but what’s worth doing is usually worth waiting for, right?
No, Social Media is by no means the be-all-end-all of SEO environments. They are constantly shifting environments, that punish those who seek to profit from using them. But, with dedication and thorough planning – one could reap more benefits from consistent effort than you ever thought you’d sow.