There is a lot of chatter these days about using social media for SEO. We get clients telling us that other SEO firms claim that social media is the new SEO, but the truth of the matter is that there are significant obstacles when it comes to using social media in this way.
Before we get into that, first let’s clarify that when we talk about social media, we are for the most part talking about Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser degree Google+. Sure, there are many other smaller social networks out there, but when it comes to massive numbers of users, these three are in a class by themselves. That being said, let’s take a look at each of these social media sites and how they stand when it comes to SEO.
While Facebook is the top social network in the country in terms of the number of users, it isn’t the mecca for SEO some may claim. The reason for this is that:
Google can’t access the majority of Facebook’s data. While there are public pages on the service, the really valuable stuff on Facebook — the content that its users share with one other — is not available to Google, and it isn’t likely that Facebook will be sharing this data anytime soon.
This would also run the risk of angering Facebook users who might be concerned over privacy issues — not to mention the fact that it would provide valuable information to a competitor.
The end result of all this is that until Google and Facebook agree to a deal that allows Google to access data of Facebook users, you can post on Facebook all you want and it won’t have any effect at all on your search engine rankings.
Twitter’s very size works against it when it comes to SEO. As Google’s Matt Cutts with Web Pro News has implied, with Twitter generating over 400 million tweets a day, Google doesn’t have the means to crawl every single tweet. Twitter, like Facebook, allows some data, (tweets, for instance) to be kept private and some to be made public. With Google not focusing on tweets as a social signal for its algorithms, however, the efficacy of tweeting as an SEO function is likely to be very limited.
There are sites which catalog tweets, and those are crawled/indexed just like any other site. This provides an indirect method for tweets to affect search engine performance, but it is such a weak transmission source that your SEO efforts are better spent elsewhere, as your efforts to make an impact on SEO will be wasted.
While Google+ is no Facebook, it has made some strides recently in adding users, even while some have questioned its relevancy. One reason Google has remained supportive of this fledgling social network, in spite of its detractors, is likely the fact that it keeps them from having to rely on a large competitor such as Facebook for social signals.
While it seems unlikely Google+ will ever rival Facebook, there are some signs that Google may use Google+ to confirm the findings of its primary link-based algorithm Thus, if you’re going to target your social media efforts anywhere, using Google+ to feed your great content to Google directly may be the way to go. You can check out the Google+ page here.