One of the questions that always comes up in client meetings is the importance of social media in the marketing mix. Most of my clients (which tend to be smaller and more conservative) have a hard time justifying the need to have a social media strategy. However, all of them understood the importance of search marketing.
One thing I was learning more about recently is the residual effects that social media has on search engine rankings, namely Google. Now, we KNOW social media has a positive influence on rankings, but other than a few studies this has been speculation and assumption. Social media sites are high quality, so links from them have to have some kind of impact, right? Well, we wanted to come up with a way to show clients in black and white how their content on social media sites is benefiting them.
First we need to understand how linking works. They are basically two categories, DoFollow and NoFollow. DoFollow and NoFollow links are pretty important for websites when it comes to link building (which helps SEO). Here is how they are defined:
- DoFollow Links – These links pass trust to search engines. Basically, DoFollow links allows search engines to see good SEO value to help rank a site.
- NoFollow Links – These links are essentially invisible to search engines and does not transfer PageRank or other important page attributes.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to use NoFollow links, however in social media, we don’t like them. To truly convey the SEO benefit of social media, we should know where the good DoFollow links are and how to build these links in a way that doesn’t affect the overall social user experience.
Facebook is pretty locked down when it comes to external DoFollow links. There are articles out there that suggest Shares and Likes on content helps with search rankings, however it looks like pretty much all external links on Facebook are NoFollow. In other words, any links from Facebook provide little SEO backlinking value.
Twitter appears to be in the same situation. External links appear to be NoFollow, however some articles have shown that Retweets of links on Twitter does influence search rankings and links that get Retweeted are indexed up to 3x faster. While the external links on Twitter are NoFollow, engagements with links have been shown to provide some SEO value.
If you have a blog that features images, get your content on Pinterest for a great source of referral traffic. Be sure to use relevant hashtags! However, most of the links are also NoFollow, which means the backlink provides little SEO value.
Google+ is rather interesting. The links from posts were NoFollow. However, when you embed a link into a post rather than simply posting a link, the preview snippet creates a DoFollow link. Now, you are going to want to take user experience into account here as common sense tells us people like to see and interact with nice, big images. So, keep things visually attractive but also valuable for SEO.
There you have it! In summary –
- Facebook – No.
- Twitter – Yes only on ReTweets
- Pinterest – No.
- Google+ – Yes only on embedded links and images.
Obviously this may change at any time since Social Media and Search Engine algorithms change constantly. But, keep follow us and keep up with the latest changes.