It is extremely clear that social media strategy impacts your search rankings. But to say that social media will totally replace traditional SEO is completely erroneous.
This is because though social signals contribute to SEO to some extent, the major impact of social media strategies on search rankings occurs through the traditional SEO route.
Social Signals Considered for SEO
Social signals are the various social media factors that directly contribute to SEO. According to both Google and Bing, some of the strong social signals for SEO include
- Social recommendations for your content in terms of numbers of likes, shares, retweets, +1s etc. This study shows a positive correlation between high ranking and the number of retweets a url receives.
- The ‘social authority’ of the person sharing your content. Higher the social authority (as established by higher number of followers) greater the weight the social signals will carry towards SEO.
But basing your entire SEO strategy only on social signals is neither practical nor recommended. In fact, to leverage social media optimally for SEO, you have to fall back on traditional SEO.
Hence social media strategies cannot completely replace traditional SEO and here are 4 reasons why.
4 Reasons Why Social Media Strategies Will Never Replace Traditional SEO
1. Content is King in Social Media as in SEO
SEOs have been crying themselves hoarse that content is the most important factor for ranking well on search engines. Especially post Google’s Panda update, low quality, keyword stuffed and duplicate content is likely to get your site penalized.
The same applies to your social media strategies too. Unless your content is absolutely high quality and adding maximum value, people are unlikely to share it socially. And thus your ‘social signals’ become weak with little or no impact on SEO.
2. Back Links are Still Important
The holy grail of traditional SEO has always been link building. And Matt Cutts of Google recently clarified that links are still important despite the supposedly increasing relevance of social signals.
And one of the best uses of social media is to build up more ‘traditional SEO’ worthy back links to your website. For instance, when you share content via social media, people become instantly aware of your new content, enhancing the chances that they will link to it if they find it of value. And when they share your content, it gets magnified exposure, further increasing the chances of back links and corresponding high rankings.
Another way social media supports ‘traditional’ SEO link building is by leveraging established relationships. You can leverage relationships established on social media to snag guest blogging opportunities on relevant, high ranking sites and earn valuable (from SEO point of view) back links from there.
3. Authority of the Website is Significant
Website authority is an important search ranking factor. And social media provides the right platform for you to build your authority in the niche and thus influence your search ranking. This social media strategy thus eventually helps search ranking via a traditional SEO factor only.
4. There are Still Many People Who are Not on Social Media
The world is a huge place and though there are many people on social media, there are still many who are not. They either don’t have the time (unlikely) or the inclination (more likely) or maybe both. They probably never ‘liked’ or ‘+1d’ anything yet.
And you don’t want to miss being visible to them when they search for your products and/or services online, do you?
Hence you can’t give traditional SEO amiss, at least for now.
Do you think social media will eventually replace SEO as we know it?
The author of this post Yasir Khan is one of Canada’s top SEO consultants and founder of Quantum SEO Labs.