8 Aug 12
Historically, optimisation focused primarily on link building and on-page elements in order to push a page higher in search rankings. However, during the last few years Google and Bing especially have been telling the market that they are paying more and more attention to signals from social networks, the theory being that if a page or company is popular and receiving a lot of mentions on major sites like Facebook and Twitter, then they must be more relevant.
Until recently though most of this was talk and suggestion without any hard facts to back it up. Here at Sticky we have long encouraged a mix of “search and social” as part of our 360 Degree Digital Marketing Strategy and, happily, it has proven very successful for our clients. But since the Panda and Penguin updates by Google there has been increasing evidence that social is becoming a significant factor in the search equation.
A survey of SEO experts by SEOMoz late in 2011 identified that page level social metrics were considered to be 7% of the contributing factors to the overall search algorithm. We now believe that is even higher.
Throughout 2012 we have been running a series of case studies to test the impact of various social networks upon search results, especially Google search results. The findings have been the most convincing we have ever seen and we can now definitely say that social signals are impacting search engine rankings.
More supporting evidence
Recently, there has also been an experiment in the USA which focused on small amounts of social media activity to establish the correlation between social media and SEO, or search engine rankings. The experiment was conducted by creating similar websites for 6 same sized cities in the US. Five websites were promoted or rather there were equal amounts of social media activity used to promote these 5 websites and their respective search engine rankings were assessed to understand the implications and the effect.
Here are the findings and the SEO results based on the social media activity. (You can also see an infographic of the results here):
- 100 Google Plus followers catapulted the websites by an average of 14.63 on search page rankings.
- 300 Google Plus One votes affected an average rise of 9.44.
- 70 Facebook shares and 50 Likes to an associated business page of the website contributed to a rise of 6.9 in rankings
- 50 tweets and retweets yielded a rise of 2.88 in search engine rankings.
The stats clearly show the correlation of social media activity and SEO. Conclusively, higher social media activity and consistent strategies can help a website or a business to get much higher search engine rankings over a longer period of time.
It is interesting to note that the sixth website that had no social media activity to promote it or to contribute to its SEO, had no noticeable or noteworthy change in its search engine rankings. Actually, it sunk by 0.11 on the search engine rankings.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These social signals are contributing factors, not the only factors. It is still crucial to have excellent on page optimisation and a strong linking profile. The other factor we at Sticky have tested in isolation is traffic volumes. Higher traffic sites are deemed more popular by search engines and tend to rank higher too.
Social media activity contributes to SEO and collectively can lead to higher search engine rankings.
STICKY SEARCH AND SOCIAL SEO PACKAGE
If you would like to see your search rankings improve then talk to us about our new Search and Social SEO Package. We will set up your website optimisation (as we always have) and then work on all the relevant social media and traffic signals to accelerate your search results. Note: this doesn’t require you to actually have social network accounts, although for best results it is encouraged.