Does Social Media Influence Search Rankings?

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Did your formal education prepare you for what you actually do in the day-to-day? Mine did to an extent, but when you’re working at the edge of an ever-expanding discipline, as digital marketers do, you tend to learn the most on the job. It was in the course of my own daily tasks that I found a great post on Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout blog that I felt I should share. Here’s the first part of Patel’s Wikipedia page, slightly edited, emphasis mine:

Patel launched his first online venture, a job board named Advice Monkey, in the late 90s while in high school. When the people Patel hired for the project failed to gain the company any traction, he decided to learn how to drive traffic to his site himself, thus launching his career in online marketing. He seems to have learned well; by 2009, Patel had implemented his marketing and search engine optimization tactics on 30 of the top 100 Technorati blogs and was named one of the top influencers on the web by The Wall Street Journal.

There’s lots more to his story, of course, and his accomplishments have been phenomenal. But the point is, he started on the path to excellence by learning how to do tasks himself. And that’s Act-On’s goal here, with the blog and our Center of Excellence: To help you help yourself to be a better marketer.

Social media and search rankings

Now, back to Mr. Patel and the question at hand: Does social media influence search rankings? Marketers often try social marketing and get frustrated because it can be hard to measure the results. People may identify an interesting product or service through social media, but they’re also likely to find it through a web search, giving search the first-touch attribution for whatever conversion may happen next. This can make social seem a time and resource sink, and marketers may be tempted to scale their efforts back. But Neil Patel’s contention is that both Google and Bing use data from social sites in order to determine how high to rank your website. Which makes those social sites key to your all-important search results.

As evidence, he points out that Moz started to rank on Google for its “Beginner’s Guide” after Smashing Magazine tweeted out Moz’s guide, and that  Shrushti increased its rankings from page 400 to page 1 due to social media. To drive this latter point home, Patel created an infographic to illustrate the sequence:

How Social Signals Impact Search Engine Rankings
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Want more information? Check out the social media resources section in Act-On’s Center of Excellence, and find white papers, videos, webinars, and fast facts, all compiled to help you become a better social marketer.