There has been a lot of speculation in the SEO industry that certain activities in social media such as driving likes, shares or tweets to your website has a positive impact on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) rankings.
There has been over the years, too, contradictory advice from Google themselves, one day saying that it does not use social signals as a ranking factor and then the next saying that they do use some signals.
So you can see why there is a lot of confusion. Google will not want to be telling you how to get your site ranking higher by using techniques, which could exploit and skew the quality of their results.
What do I do?
If you think slightly wider than using social media to improve your search engine rankings for your main targeted keywords, you could find that social media can have a major impact on your bottom line traffic wise and help Google drive you more traffic – which really is what you are trying to do.
Also Google is not the only search engine you can try and optimise for. All social media platforms have their own search facility, so you could use online SEO ranking techniques to get your site ranking higher on those services too.
The more traffic you can drive outside of Google using Social media channels, paradoxically the more traffic you could acquire from Google. How?
Google likes sites than generate good quality traffic from a number of different sources – this make sense, as it can use these multiple sources as a ranking factor. If a site has two traffic sources, can it be seen as authoritative as a site that says have 10 quality sources of traffic from more other websites and social media platforms?
Google likes sites that have dwell time – the length of time a user stays on the sites and visits a number of pages.
A good social media strategy can help support both of these objectives and, in a round about way, then help you get more traffic from Google as your site becomes an authority in your space.
The other thing to consider is that social media pages, profiles, group pages etc. can all rank themselves in Google, so while you use it to try and help your site rank higher, it can drive more traffic to your brand via those social media pages ranking in Google.
So right now, while Google may or may not use social signals, your social media strategy can have a positive effect on driving traffic from search engines. Also this could help you steal a march on your competition who currently believe it doesn’t have an effect and therefore don't do any.
What if Google suddenly changes its mind or really starts to use the social media channels as a ranking signal? You will have a major advantage.
In a traditional SEO sense, we simply don't really know if social media has a direct casual effect on rankings and positioning, but we do know that social media channels can drive direct traffic and that social media platforms have their own search facilities which you can rank on and drive traffic to your site.
Our advice would be to research and find out how social media can drive you traffic directly - anything else at this stage will be a welcome bonus.