Social for Search Engine Optimisation
Social media within search engine optimisation (SEO) can be split into two distinct sections. The 1st is how the search engines look for social signals, where sentiment is factored in as an element of the ranking algorithm. The second is the success that social media can have as part of a structured SEO programme within an organisation’s marketing activities.
Social media as a ranking factor
As social media has developed, the search engines have taken a great interest in the channel, especially in trying to understand how such personalised and real-time data can be used to rank web properties and content within the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Today it’s widely accepted that social media and SEO have a need to be integrated and that social media has a visible impact on SEO activity. This is especially important given that the major search engines now review social signals through various data share agreements. Google and Bing have both added numerous search features over the past year and numerous SEO professionals talk about how social media signals are influencing SERPs. Both these search engines can now display results that are written or distributed by users and also allow real-time searches for information being shared across social platforms; mainly Facebook and Twitter. The extent to which social signals are being used to rank search results is still vague, but the search engines have openly commented that social signals and influence are being explored as a factor affecting natural search.
The impact of social on search at present is relatively limited. For example, Facebook walls a lot of its internal data and consequently, search engine interest is minimal. However, this will change in the very near future. Twitter data already plays a role in search, especially through authority ranking.
Retweets are now acting as a form of link building by getting a page link mentioned in tweets of authoritative people, it can visibly play a part in influencing SERP positioning.
Social media for SEO activities
Recent Google developments (including the Panda/Farmer updates) hint at a desire within the major search engines to reward pages with the most unique content.
This trend can be particularly challenging for any organisation with a website where content has the potential to be duplicated on other sites – such as a retailer using a standard product description provided by the manufacturer, or a job board where vacancies are seeded on multiple websites. There are a number of possible solutions to issues of this type, but one that can be cost-effective and scalable is using user generated content (UGC).