Published 29th April 2016 | Marketing Strategy, SEO, Social Media Marketing

How to Claim Pole Position on Google in 2016 – Pt 4

Social Media and SEO – 3 Things You Need to Know About Social Media & SEO in 2016

The role of social media in SEO is shrouded in mystery and misconceptions. We all know that social media is important to businesses, but understanding how it affects search rank is an entirely different ballgame.

According to Global Web Index, adults spend an average of 1.89 hours on social networks each day and, globally, a significant 93% of online adults have at least one social media account. This makes it easy to see the value for businesses of investing in their social media presence.

However, identifying how social media helps improve SEO can be difficult to quantify, especially when it comes to Google.

Bing (the second most-used search engine) is very clear about how its algorithm incorporates social signals in search results, and says that it definitely looks at social data:

“We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.”

“We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results.”

While these statements data back to 2010, there’s no evidence to suggest that what Bing said then isn’t still true. Google, on the other hand, seem to be a little less straight on the topic.

Google and Social Media’s Role in SEO – History

In January 2014 Google’s Matt Cutts released a video answering the question “are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm?” Matt said Google didn’t give any special treatment to Facebook or Twitter pages and that Google didn’t crawl or index the number of likes or tweets a specific page has – at the moment.

This threw online marketers, who’d been operating under the assumption that social signals were factored into Google’s search algorithm (read more on that here). In fact, Econsultancy’s State of Search Marketing Report 2013, showed that 74% of companies and 82% of agencies surveyed said that social media was either somewhat or highly integrated into their SEO strategy.

Then, in February 2015, Google struck a deal with Twitter giving the search giant access to Twitter’s “firehose” of live tweet data.

Five months later a report showed that Google was indexing tweets.  The study, from Stone Temple, reported that Google was indexing 466% more tweets (nearly 5x the tweets) than it was four months earlier, and was favouring higher authority users.

Google and Social Media Today

So knowing the history can be interesting (especially if you geek out on that sort of stuff like we do) but what role does social media play in SEO in 2016?

1. Google is Not Ignoring Social Signals

Google treats content from different platforms differently. Twitter can be fully indexed, meaning an indexed tweet might show up in search results. This gives you an advantage if your tweets are relevant to user searches. It’s worth noting that more than 96 percent of all tweets go unindexed due to their low authoritative value*.

(*The amount of followers, connections and influencers that are connected to your social media platforms affect your authoritative value.)

So your tweets might show up in search results. Another way Google is utilising social media is in  local search. As we mentioned in ‘How to Claim Pole Position on Google in 2016 – Part 3, Google looks at various sites and directories when it calculates your local rank.  As these come from numerous sources (including social media platforms) having complete social media profiles gives you an edge when it comes to visibility and accuracy in online listings.

2. Social Media Provides the Perfect Backlink Platform

Considered by some as the most valuable way social media can help your rankings, social channels offer more visibility and more diversity in the links to your site. (Providing your content is useful, original and relevant to your audience of course).

Inbound links are one of the most reliable authority builders in the SEO world, but it’s hard to earn them naturally (and they’re pretty much worthless if you buy them).

Social media gives you (and your content) a way to reach a much wider audience, meaning there’s more chance of people sharing it which, in turn, increases the number of inbound links to your website.

Again, this is entirely dependent on you producing content that people want to link to.

Simon Brooks, CEO of digital marketing agency C4B Media says:

Links and content are the DNA of search, and while many people now get this, they’re missing a huge opportunity because they’re still sceptical about social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube are fantastic mechanisms that through sharing and liking naturally rank the credibility and relevance of original content. In turn, if they include links, they act as beacons which tell search engines which websites should be given status as relevant for specific keywords”.

3. Social Media Channels Are Also Search Engines

Given the amount of time we spend on social media, it’s not surprising that we’re starting to use our newsfeeds and timelines in a similar way to search engines, looking for news and quick answers. Of the 74% of people who say they use Twitter for news on a daily basis, nearly 40% rely on it for breaking news.

Because of this, it should come as no surprise that, slowly but surely, social media is having a greater impact on search engine optimization and search ranks.

Neil Patel of QuickSprout makes this point in his article on why social is the new SEO: “We need to understand that search engine optimization includes the search that happens on social media search engines.”


Companies therefore need to expand their idea of SEO to include social search engines, alongside Google and Bing.


  • Ensure your social media profiles are complete and consistent across all platforms. This helps Google aggregate the information and makes it easier for users to quickly identify you.
  • If you have more than one profile per platform, ensure they’re clearly labelled to make it super easy to people to engage with the right one (i.e. sales, press, HR).
  • Be active and engaged on your social platforms, build great relationships.
  • Create useful, unique sharable content. Make sure anywhere you have this great content you also have social sharing buttons so it’s easy for users to spread the love.

We’d love to help you brand your social platforms, create some great fresh content or even talk through your link building strategy with you.

To ensure your business is doing all it can to be poll position in 2016, book in for your SEO Healthcheck.



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