Social Media and SERP are both separate segments of the internet.
While SERPs are reviewed and indexed by robots, the Social Media thrives on reviews and participation from real people. So, the SEO and SMO things are basically the bridge between Bots and Humans. While coming on the SERP may mean you have to impress the robots, staying alive on the network means you have to keep real people happy.
So the way ahead, will have to be a bridging of difference between both and a coming of age way of ranking sites. Yes, there aren’t any clear cut signs on whether SEO is influenced by SMO, despite official statements made by Bing and Google about their influence on rankings, or whether search engine ranks are directly affected by social presence, but there certainly are factors which play an important determining factor.
Here’s the actual chain:
Content -> Popularity -> Sharing With People -> Growing Popularity -> Better Rank on SERP
This is where Social media comes into play – helping people to make your content popular and consequently improving the number of hits on your site and then, a consequent jump in the presence on the SERP.
Let’s take an example. This is the latest release by Taylor Swift, a popular music artist. The song and a related game video are being discussed on a music channel’s social media page i.e. the facebook page. The link has some over 2000 likes and over 300 comments and about 83 shares, just shortly after its publishing on the fan page. The fan page is redirecting the traffic to the main article on it’s website.
Now, a consequent search on the search engine shows that THIS particular post ranges highest on search query. Take a look at these two images:
[Image 1: On the Social Media Site]
[Image 2: The search results for the query of the artist and the song. ]
As seen here, the article with maximum shares obviously has more hits. Since it has had more hits, it’s ranging in the top section; and since it’s on the top, the site has a better ranking compared to competitor sites. If you notice, the same article also appears in the mid section of the SERP, linking to the content a second time.
Now, certainly, this hypothesis does not have a sure shot answer or a sure shot proof about whether social media affects search engine ranking, but logically looking at things – the more popular with people you are, the better it is for your brand.
With the latest feature of real-time indexing and ‘freshness’ quotient added to results, it’s certain that something that constantly on top of the minds of people is going to feature more frequently and prominently in searches; and the more it does, the more popular it gets! So if you don’t want to miss the bandwagon, it’s a good time to hop on and take social media seriously.
Divya is a web analyst and strategic consultant working with a renowned SEO company. She has keen interest and aptitude in subjects related to content development, website development & social media optimization.