Over the past decade, the web has become far more interactive and collaborative across the board. Social media is a natural consequence of our innate desire as people to interact. For a long time, SEO was strictly concerned with dry technical details like metadata, keyword density and sheer backlink volume. Since then, the formula has gotten a bit more complex. Social media now has a far greater impact on your PageRank and SERPs results, for a variety of reasons.
It Demonstrates Value
According to search engines like Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, value is the product of a number of factors. Whatever those specific factors happen to be, a common indicator is the number of people that link to a site and share its content via social media. It’s an unfortunate truth of the SEO game that online content is only as valuable as its appeal to web users. Social media activity in the form of Facebook Likes, Twitter Tweets and up-votes on Q&A sites demonstrate value, and that’s just not going to change any time soon.
The Organic Boost: Post-Penguin Ranking Factors
Like it or not, social media impacts organic search results, a fact that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt readily admits. All those inbound links garnered from the viral sharing of social media matter. Google went on the offensive against cheap SEO tricks and link schemes with Penguin. Now, it’s not only the number of people that share your content but also who’s doing the sharing. Social media SEO is all about link authority at this point.
Constant Content Creation
While the latest Google algorithm updates place a greater emphasis on links and link authority, content is still the most critical determinant of value. More importantly, the freshness of content holds a lot of weight. That’s why sites like Reddit, Quora and Facebook manage to nail down so many keyword queries in organic search. They leverage social media to churn out a great deal of user-generated content without having to do much work. User-generated content is yet another excellent fringe benefit of using social media to enhance your SEO efforts.
Bringing It Together
Just because a billion people find something momentarily interesting and express their fleeting approval of it doesn’t make it a high-value resource online. Likewise, just because something has demonstrable value, it doesn’t make it instantly popular. Social indicators in SEO are just another technique that Google and Bing use when trying to rank content on the web. They’re increasingly important, but they’ll never completely take over. Regardless, webmasters and marketers need to factor in their weight when deciding on how to best promote content for wider dissemination around the Internet.