Local SEO and the Impact of Social Media

You could ask ten different people in the digital marking industry whether social media has an impact on Local SEO and you would probably get ten different answers. Some would say absolutely and refer to the SearchMetric’s 2015 SEO Ranking Factors report that showed that there were factors that showed social media is important, while others would say no and refer to the Moz’s 2015 Search Engine Ranking report that cited that there is no real causation that social media had any affect on organic ranking. Then there are those that claim that SEO is impacted mainly by social signals but not in direct ways.

This middle ground is probably more accurate to how social media affects local SEO. It is not very clear how search engines will adjust in the future but many experts suggest that Google has no plans to ever factor in direct social actions (i.e., Retweets, Facebook Likes, even +1s). Google has made attempts to incorporate this type of information into it’s algorithm but it became difficult to organize and quantify so Google went the other direction and decided it would not include it.

There are times though the social media and SEO do overlap. Let’s take a look how social media can contribute, in a variety of ways, to the overall organic success of a website that incorporates a unified overall SEO search engine optimization strategy.

How is Local SEO impacted by Social Media?

Link Potential
Social media plays a role in increasing awareness of a brand or website content. This increase in awareness often leads to links. As an example, lets say you post a video of a new product feature. This video gets shared 15 times on Twitter or Facebook. One of those tweets or posts is seen by a twitter or facebook user, and that individual writes about it in their blog and links back to your website. That link would not have happen if that person didn’t see your video. While the retweets and likes didn’t contribute directly to the link profile of a website they did lead to a link from an article. These links do contribute and therefore contribute to SEO impact.

Personalization
Google uses the Google+ activity and reviews to personalize search results for users when they are logged into their Google account (as they usually are if they use a Google Chrome browser). Similarly, if you are connected to someone who has reviewed a business and shared that review on the Google+ timeline, or perpahs +1ed a page on your company’s website, you can likely see a higher search result simply because of that connection.

Number of Search Queries
The beauty of social media is that you get get your company’s name out to a much wider audience than with just a simple company website along. As a result, you increase the overall awareness of your company, leading more people to find you. When Google sees more and more people are searching for particular brand, they view that brand as becoming more popular and well known, so they award it higher ranking. Naturally, this is dependent on the query being searched for and often is more of a branded search opportunity by nature.

Brand Signals
There are those who believe that simply getting mentioned on a blog or website, without a hyperlink, can contribute to search engine ranking factors. In Google parlance, they call “co-citation” and search engines widely consider this as a viable brand signal. Social media engagement and visibility can increase the awareness of your brand, and provide the opportunity to get brand mentions and conversations going about your brand. There are a number of social media monitoring tools to keep track of your brand mentions and reviews.  Simply search for “social media monitoring tools” and see which one fits your needs best.

Traffic Volume and Site Engagement
Social media can increase the levels of traffic that visit your website which is a key factor in search engine ranking. More often than not, these items being shared on social media that drive the vast majority of traffic to your website are links to blog posts and videos. This kind of inbound website traffic can potentially be greater than links to your homepage. If content is interesting enough to get users reading the entire page or watch a full video before visiting other pages, statistics have show that visitors are much more likely to convert. If you are not already doing so, make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site and are measuring such things as most popular pages, time spent on page, and visitor flow through the site.

Profile Ranking
A brand’s social media profiles will rank higher for brand terms, often on the first page and sometimes above the fold for brand queries.

SEO industry speculation has it that Google has well upwards of over 250 search ranking pieces to it’s algorithm which is being continuously updated. And it’s not just about visibility on the first page of search results, those 10 blue links. There is also Google Image Search, news articles, YouTube videos, Google+ Reviews, and Google My Business, which are all features that allow for greater organic search visibility within the Google ecosystem. SEO strategies must consider these other aspects, and social channels are one of those considerations.

Local SEO is not Just About Google

When you think of SEO, you naturally thing of Google. The reason is pretty simple: according to ComScore, Google has upwards of 68% market share in terms of popularity. Google is the 900 lb. gorilla in the living room and companies live and die by their Google search rankings. But search visibility isn’t just tied to Google and Bing. Every social network has some form of search built in, and as social media continues to rise, so has the search volume on these networks. The bottom line, however, is that if you’ve got good SEO visibility on Google, chances are very good indeed that you have good search visibility elsewhere as well.

The foundation of effective Local SEO is a clean, responsive website design that is geared toward social interaction with social sharing and following features. But also keep in  mind that SEO principles can and should be used to impact search engine ranking directly on the various social media channels. They may not be as clear as Google ranking factors, and may not be as easy to quantify but there are still lots of opportunities to increase the visibility of your brand and content within the social media channels themselves and in local search engine results as well.