How Social Media Affects Your eCommerce SEO

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Social media messaging should echo the content and branding on your website. For eCommerce, the issue becomes even more interesting since branding is often a huge part of the marketing equation and certain platforms thrive on branding.

Social Media Activity Impacts Search Results

Google used to insist that social media had little, if any, impact on search results. That seems improbable, doesn’t it? A couple of years ago, Hootsuite decided to test three ways blogs are shared on social media and measured the resulting impacts to search visibility. It looked at:

  1. Blogs never shared to any social media 
  2. Blogs shared to Twitter
  3. Blogs shared to Twitter and boosted with a modest ($100) paid campaign two days later

Not surprisingly, Hootsuite found a strong correlation between social media activity and search rankings. The researchers also discovered that pushing content from a website to social media organically (without paying for anything) boosted the site’s visibility to search engines by 12%! 

Paid content targeted to interested audiences raised visibility an additional ten percent over organic posting to 22%. 

It’s worth mentioning that Hootsuite did not use Google search results for its study. Instead, it looked at page authority uncovered by hRef’s Live Index, which is second only to Google in terms of crawl volume. I assume this was because Google entered a formal relationship with Twitter in 2015 that gave it full access to Twitter’s firehose, or stream. In turn, Twitter itself became more visible in – you got it – search results. The very thin line here is the relevance of an actual Tweet, not Twitter itself. But click on that Tweet link and you are on Twitter.

Still, I can’t imagine the results didn’t surprise most eCommerce businesses, especially those that use Google’s own content guidelines for social media messages:

  • Create meaningful content (posts, tweets) that underscore your authority
  • Write as naturally as possible
  • Link to (or share) content from other respected authorities

Using Keywords in Social Media Posts

Notice how keywords aren’t part of Google’s official guidance? They are still key to search for success. As Google advises, the best content – whether for a product description, blog, or social media communication – should read like a conversation and not a sales pitch. A skilled and informed writer can create content that naturally includes keywords and especially long-tail keywords, which are often easier and less competitive for which to rank. 

Put in a general search query, and it’s likely that Facebook or YouTube will be among the first results for organic content. Use a long-tail keyword in your search and chances are, some excellent paid and organic content will appear on search engine result pages (SERPs) as well.

Share your blog content out there on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels you use. Link it to the relevant content on your site, especially to well-prepared product pages with descriptions, photos, zoom capes, and other ways to display your goods or services.

Remember, SEO includes metadata for descriptions and photos, including snippets, alt text, and captions.

SEO Boosts Social Signaling

Social signaling describes how social media impacts search engines through likes and shares. When it comes to search engine rank and site visibility, it’s as important as links and backlinks.

Social signals include content shares through social media and commentary on sites like Quora and possibly some Reddit threads. Search engines look at the URLs these sources point to. If they are judged to be authoritative, they are at least noticed for this. This can boost their visibility through more direct, Google-approved avenues.

At least one SEO expert doubts Google’s claim that social signals don’t affect rank. Google’s reticence doesn’t mean social signals won’t indirectly help with SEO, says Keith Anderson of The SEO Hermit. The more your content is shared and seen, the more people will probably link to it. Google isn’t going to ignore that, is it?

Google Likes Brands and Brands Need Social Media

Google is still the most-used search engine out there and it loves brands. It is a brand. Brands flourish on social media, especially YouTube (a Google property) and its brand-loving competitors.

Here’s a recent example. A song called Death Bed blew up the charts this winter thanks to the singer-songwriter behind it, Powfu, who used social media to establish his fledgling career and brand. He uploaded it to Soundcloud and YouTube, where it stayed long enough before it was taken down for potential copyright issues (he didn’t have permission to sample another artist’s song prominent in Death Bed). Still, it remained up long enough for countless fans and the Columbia label to “discover” Powfu, offer him a contract, and take care of the copyright issue. 

I initially looked for the song on my Amazon tablet after hearing it several times on the radio in March, entering some of the lyrics in the Silk browser. I got exactly zero results. I then picked up my Android phone, did the same search on Google, and quickly found Powfu and a handful of videos he’d done by then. Today, Silk returns around 4.7 million results for Powfu, including features on Amazon’s MP3 service. Google, which has been paying attention to him much longer, returns more than double that number. 

Powfu’s social media strategy got him recognized and got him a major label contract. 

What can eCommerce sellers take away from this?

  • Brands create keywords
  • Certain social media channels are natural fits for brands and promote those keywords
  • Keywords should flow between social media and websites that sell relevant products

Social Media Should Follow Google’s SEO Advice

Google’s SEO guidance makes sense. Search engine results pages (SERPs) should reward well-written, relevant content. Other search engines do just this regardless of where content is discovered. 

Platforms, though, behave more like Google. Many are wary about content that doesn’t play by accepted norms. They take down content that breaks certain rules like copyright violations. Twitter and Facebook have finally flagged content that spreads disinformation or embraces hate or violence. 

If your brand or industry “fits” with a platform, you should share your web content with it including your blogs. It’s even better when you’ve identified a few unique keywords or long-tail phrases for both sides of the link.

Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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