The Increasing Relevance of Social Media to SEO
Even though much of the focus of Internet marketing is shifting towards social media lately, the main source of most of the traffic that lands on your website is still likely to be the search engines. This means that good SEO is still vital to building your profile online, but it doesn’t mean that all of those hours that you have spent posting links on Twitter or making status updates on Facebook aren’t contributing to your SERP rankings. In fact, the major search engines have been giving greater weight to the links that are posted on social media sites because they are more likely to be genuinely valuable to people interested in any specific niche.
To understand exactly why social media links can have a positive impact on SEO you have to look at how the search engines attribute value to content on the web. The basis of all good SEO is having quality content which has a lot of links pointing to it from different places online. The number of inbound links indicates to the search engines that the content that it points to has been found to be interesting enough to the readers for them to take the time to share them with other people which is an obvious indicator of the quality of the content. The obvious failing of this is that it is possible for unscrupulous marketers to post spam filled content and then to go onto a couple of dozen bookmarking sites to leave multiple back links to it just to raise the page ranking. While this strategy was once almost the standard industry practice, it tended to fill the SERPs with keyword stuffed pages that carried very little useful information.
As the search engines have continued to develop their products so that they are more likely to return the information that users are looking for at the top of the results pages, their algorithms have become more critical of the quality of the links that point to a particular page. One of the most important factors that the crawlers look for is the quantity of unique links to a page; that is, the amount of links that come from different sources. This means that when they find a lot of links that come from the same source, as is the case when one person visits numerous bookmarking sites and leaves identically tagged links, all of those links are now seen as having a lower value in the indexing process. Posts that have fewer links from that come from a greater number of original sources are; therefore, going to rank higher than pages that have tons of links that all come from the same place. Because links posted by multiple users on social media sites originate on more unique pages, even though they are all on the same site, they all have an individual influence on SEO.
Every time someone posts a link to your site on Facebook or Twitter it is in effect creating a new original link that the search engines will give more weight to. The latest thinking by the search engines is that users on social sites are only going to post quality links that they want to share with their friends. This indicates that those links point to valuable information and so they are given greater weight than all of the bookmarks posted on Digg or Squidoo, just to promote the site in the SERPs. Of course, just going on Facebook and constantly reposting links to your pages isn’t going to benefit your SEO, but using social media strategies that encourage link sharing on these sites will mark your page as being genuinely valuable to the crawlers when they visit.