How Social Media Changed SEO (and Why Your Business Can’t Thrive without It)

February 8, 2019

Stoney G. deGeyter, of SEJ, has posed the question “Can SEO thrive without social media?”

His stance is “NO” based on the fact that search engines are seeking for ways to add social signals to their ranking algorithms due to the proliferation of the social platforms. Social gives us the now whereas the SEO gives us the then.

In many ways it’s what we had seen when we made the shift from print to digital publications; whichever medium provides the fastest information is often the one people place their attention.

deGeyter argues that social media is the new backlink.

He states that it’s unlikely Google will ever need to remove links completely but does see that the company may soon rely on them less frequently due to the fact that social adds many different layers of information that aren’t available through link indexing, alone.

Rankings in 1999 vs 2014

Back in 1999 there was an explosion of best practices (and manipulations) that lead to higher increased rankings through Search Engine Optimization. The basic premise was based on good faith that people would link to reputable, valuable information but that changed once the community caught wind.

1999 pic

The abuse of older SEO techniques forced Google to rework their algorithm and qualify the value of links; their aim was to remove this link manipulation which was quite a task.

By 2014, however, it had beome apparent that SEO, Social, Content, and Usability were the four dominant factors for higher Web rankings and exposure.

2014 pic

As deGeyter states “If the content is crap, the site is hard to use, or has low conversion rates, these are all signals to the search engine that the site itself is of low searcher value.”

We’re all still unsure whether social signals do play a large factor in search rankings due to the secrecy behind the Google Algorithm. The general idea is that content that is being shared tends to catch on with outlets which naturally causes backlinks, being indexed through social channels, and becoming news-worthy items that deserve the exposure.

Social Correlation to SEO Causation

Great content that is picked up by the social channels deserve to do well because it shows that people are finding value in the work; therefore it should have an effect on search rankings (though not always so).

Since we’re all in the dark it is safe to say that an increase in social increases the opportunities for higher rankings in the search engines. Though a site, as a whole, may not see a significant bump in rankings it is very possible for particular, valuable pages to make an impression and climb the ranks due in part to social media engagement. One or two wildly popular shares can put a business on the map and give individuals a reason to explore deeper into the site and what the business has to offer.

As deGeyter puts it “Just as good SEO required links in order to help a site achieve top search engine rankings, today, SEO needs social media for the very same reason.”

In the end we are interlocked in a symbiotic relationship with SEO and Social:

  • The strategies for SEO lays the foundation for when your site is ready to be found
  • The social is the promotional tool to have individual discover this solid foundation

The two work hand-in-hand and should be seen as a whole project rather than two separate entities.

Only time will tell how SEO and Social will intermingle within these coming years but from what we understand at this point it’s not worth holding off any longer combining the two if you plan to thrive in this hectic, cut-throat online commerce World we’ve developed.

Image by veggiegretz

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