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Are Social Media Tools Relevant to SEO?

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Posted by: Gabriella Sannino





Metrics-200x120Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, Technorati – social media tools are swarming the net, becoming the main way to get in touch, keep in touch, socialize and monetize.

On places like Twitter, individuals and businesses alike have begun posting links to their blogs, sites and articles.  LinkedIn has a way to plug into your blog so once you post, it shows on your LinkedIn profile.  With Digg you can have a link back to an article on your site, or on an article directory, etc.  In other words, you can have a website, a blog and ten social media accounts, and have them all leading to each other.

The question arises, however: does all this do any good for search engine optimization?  And if it does, how much good does it do?

In reality, social media is just another part of marketing.  One of the reasons why so many businesses use the social media tools is because they realized very quickly that these tools give them the ability to talk to their customers.  In addition, these tools allow business individuals to reach likeminded professionals, make business contacts and any other kind of socializing you can imagine.

All this socializing does have some benefits for optimization, but perhaps not in the way you think it does.  Thousands of people post links on Twitter, for example, thinking that these posts will link back to their site, and raise PageRank and search engine results positioning.  However, Twitter specifically has a “no follow” for your links, which means that the search engine crawlers won’t follow the link back to your site; in other words, the links themselves have no optimization value.

Now, people are selling eBooks on how to gain followers and whatnot, pushing all the benefits and making the buyers think this book will grow their business, but how does social media work for site optimization, PageRank and SERPs?

1.    You post your links.
2.    People (not search engines) follow those links and read what you’ve written/posted.
3.    Of those people who liked your post/article/idea, some will talk about it and add a link to your site where the information is.
4.    The new links will generally have a “follow all” tag, telling the crawlers to follow them.
5.    Those inbound links will bring in organic traffic and add authority to your site, which, in turn, will raise your search engine result positioning and PageRank.

All in all, social media is like MLM (multi-level marketing):customer-service-marketing-strategy

You post ten links with no results on PageRank, placement or anything else; you may as well have thrown them into the wide unknown.  However, five people read your links and re-post (or link back) to those ten posts, and you now have fifty (free!) back links (not reciprocal!) leading to your site.  Five other people find those re-posts and re-post again – 250 back links, plus the original 50, adds up to a whopping 300 links leading back to your site.

All those links will normally be posted on sites relevant to your site, which gives your site authority, which raises your PageRank.  All that traffic and the resulting commentary can raise your positioning in the SERPS.

So – while social media in and of itself isn’t that helpful with SEO, the resulting links are.  How do you get people to repost, comment and write about your site, article, blog, etc?  That’s another blog entirely!










Comments (12)

  • Avatar
    Sean Hecking Reply

    Gabriella,

    I like how you called out MLM graphically and the complexities of social marketing. You are right on about gaining search engine value through word of mouth, WOM. I think a lot of marketers need to look past the first level to understand the SEO benefit of social networks. When it comes down to it, the most powerful form of marketing is the referral. What better way to gain loyal visitors than to have WOM do the work.

    April 22, 2009 at 7:42 pm
    • Avatar
      Gabriella Reply

      Exactamundo…The only thing is how do you get them there to begin with. Small steps, patience, and great information. Hey thanks I appreciate the support believe it or not Sean it’s people like you that keep me going.

      April 23, 2009 at 6:10 am
  • Avatar
    Jahnelle Pittman Reply

    Hey Gabriella – followed the trackback you allowed; seems some people have a problem with the whole idea of Social Media being compared to MLM. Looks like a toss up – should it be called MLM, SMM (Social Media Marketing) or Viral Marketing? Although it seems idiotic to me to worry about the title of the thing rather than the purpose of the article – is SM relevant to SEO and if so, how – I had to comment anyway.

    For those that don’t know, Social Media Marketing is connecting directly to the consumer. Businesses using SMM have the opportunity to say directly “this is what we can do for you” and have the consumer respond with “that’s great” or “what about this…?”.

    Now let’s think about how MLM works. How many people HAVEN’T looked at at least one MLM program and seen the “sign up and then tell all your friends, family members, etc, etc”? Remember that, and then think back to how many tweets you’ve seen that went something like this:

    RT @ RT @ RT @ tiny url RT please

    So, somebody posted an article and asked to be RT’d. So they tell their friends, family members, etc, and it goes down the line.

    So, is it MLM? Viral marketing? SMMLM? SM? Who knows the proper terminology? To my mind, who cares about the proper terminology? It works, and that’s the point.

    April 27, 2009 at 8:32 am
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    SEO Miami Reply

    For me, Social media have really a great breakthrough for the past years..
    So I'm not surprise that it is use for advertising blog, article, site etc…
    But how long it will last..?But I think SEO is always effective..

    August 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm
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    Shelly Kramer Reply

    Fabulous post, Gabi, and spot-on. Bottom line, content is king – and getting people interested enough in you and the content you generate is also king. Engagement matters. Relationship matters. Investment of time in the social media realms matter.

    Heart you babycakes – great job (as always)!

    Shelly

    December 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm
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    Sourav Agarwal, Senior content writer Reply

    A great post to make the inexperienced SEO personnel realize the importance of social media tools in SEO…..

    October 22, 2010 at 5:49 am
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    Kobrien Reply

    Even though most links to YouTube, Facebook, and more often than not, Twitter, all use no follow guidelines, I think they are just as important and relevant with online marketing. Besides, it’s a fast and effective way to get your business out there, no matter how annoying repeated posts may start to become to your followers.

    SEO Kansas City

    June 13, 2011 at 9:37 am
  • Avatar
    Dan Garrison Reply

    Social media is just one of many ways to get your business going across the online marketing sphere. Given the SEO package a business chooses, they can develop more precise leads through social media which may direct them to email marketing campaigns, provide data for phone tracking/messaging services, and other good leads. Let’s just hope social media doesn’t balloon into hundreds of “it” companies, because than the whole feature will be lost. Virtual PBX

    July 19, 2011 at 9:03 am
  • Avatar
    Valeria Reply

    Many businesses now have a Twitter account, MySpace account, or another social media tool they use to attract and maintain business. What value do social media offer for professional use? How has your commercial behavior been affected by social media?
    hosted pbx Chilliwack

    August 8, 2012 at 3:35 am
    • Avatar
      Gabriella Reply

      Hello Valeria, SM is not beneficial to all companies, however when it does make sense (depends on several factors that need to be assessed prior to taking/recommending a campaign) then there are many benefits. Some benefits that come to mind, a company can establish their authority in a certain niche, they can respond directly to customer service issues, they can nurture a community, etc. The most apparent benefit for Level343 has been our growth in traffic including established our authority on Organic SEO, online marketing, branding, and being well versed in the ever evolving social media networks.

      August 9, 2012 at 5:31 am
  • Avatar
    Piper Reply

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your weblog.
    You have some really great posts and I think I would be a good
    asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some content
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    Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

    May 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm

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Are Social Media Tools Relevant to SEO?