Social Media’s Role In Houston SEO: Facebook
What I’d like to do with this article is show you how Facebook can become a powerful SEO tool to improve the results you get from search engines. My discussion will mainly concentrate on Google, but rest assured that the general ideas I present here are equally effective for other search engines (Bing etc.). Even if you’re concentrating your SEO efforts in other directions besides Google, I’m hoping you’ll find this information useful! I’ll also take a little time to talk about Facebook’s Graph Search function and how you can optimize your presence to take advantage of it.
Does Google Even Pay Attention to Facebook? What Impact Can Facebook Optimization Have?
It’s always reasonable to start any SEO discussion by examining the evidence that says a potential strategy change will actually be useful. To that end, you’ll probably want to know what, if anything, Google’s current ranking algorithms do with data from Facebook. This gets into what we call “signals.” If Google reads social media signals from Facebook, that means it increases the ranking of Facebook posts if those posts grab a lot of likes on the social network. I’m constantly surprised by the many “experts” who are already shouting about the relationship between Google and Facebook before they’ve answered this very basic question about whether or not the search engine actually picks up on social signals.
These are the most dangerous bits of misinformation you should take with a huge grain of salt:
- We know Google weighs social signals because heavily-liked and shared social content tends to rank well on the Google results page. There’s even data to back this claim up; Searchmetrics and Moz have both verified the correlation. But as this information gets re-re-re-hashed, overeager commenters make the classic mistake of confusing correlation and causation. Yes, social signals and search engine performance tend to go hand-in-hand. That DOESN’T means that the former is responsible for the latter.
- Google’s flat out admitted that it uses social signals. This is another tricky bit of information that gets snatched out of its proper context. The “smoking gun” here is a video from former Google SEO guru Matt Cuts. Cutts said the search engine was using Facebook social signals … in 2010. It would be something between naive and foolhardy to believe that the Google algorithm hasn’t evolved in all the years since then.
So, am I saying that there’s no firm evidence that Google uses Facebook signals to adjust the way it ranks results? In a word, yes. There’s certainly not enough hard evidence to take to court.
And here are two rock-solid pieces of evidence I tend to trust:
- Matt Cutts released another video – this one in 2014 – clarifying that Google was starting to index content from social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. This time around, Cutts stressed the fact that the search engine does NOT take any steps to collect and use social signals to adjust its rankings. Social Media content gets ranked just like any other page. This video is definitely worth taking the time to watch.
- In December 2013, Stone Temple Consulting conducted an exhaustive investigation on the impact of Facebook activity on web optimization. Eric Enge scrupulously documented and supported one simple conclusion: Google results aren’t affected in any way by Facebook posts. This, too, is worth taking a closer look at.
Well, Then, What Can Facebook Do For SEO?
Even without a causative relationship between social signals and search engine ranking, Facebook still has tremendous potential as an optimization tool. Just like Twitter, it can serve as an ancillary promotional medium – a place to collect traffic and send it to your website. Professional online marketers all agree that this sort of cross-promotion is worth doing. Facebook is worth another look as an optimization resource for one big new reason: Graph Search. The platform launched this internal search engine in 2013, and it’s becoming more and more popular. Graph Search may even one day threaten the market supremacy of Google. That’s not just idle speculation, either; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has explicitly stated the company’s interested in aiming for that goal. Graph Search is a semantic search engine. It’s built to deliver relevant results to relatively complex queries, and it has the ability to parse natural language rather than just hunting for keywords. Graph Search also uses a partnership with Bing to deliver wider results if it can’t find enough material inside the Facebook ecosphere. Graph Search is built to deliver uniquely relevant results by making full use of what Facebook knows about individual users and the friends they’re connected to. Its results are dramatically different when compared to other search engines. The big question is whether or not users will embrace it in the way they currently do Google. The sheer potential of the new search tool definitely makes it worth a little optimization thought. You can get Graph Search to do at least two helpful things for you. For a start, it’s a potent research tool for learning about your audience. You can examine individual users with remarkable granularity. Graph Search also teaches you plenty about what your competitors are doing and how their efforts play with customers. The second thing you can do with Graph Search is improving your visibility within Facebook. Zuckerberg’s admitted that it will likely take five or even 10 years to get Graph Search where he wants it to be. That certainly doesn’t mean that buying in early would hurt you! Ready to get started? Just keep reading. The single common strategy that works equally well on Google, Bing, and Facebook Graph Search is engagement. Shape your content with an eye towards making it easy to like and share. Even if social signals don’t influence a page’s ranking on the search engines, it still shows up on their results pages. Engagement helps your overall optimization efforts because stronger reader relationships and active participation build the sort of connections to your website (links as well as likes) that search engines love.
Simple Steps To Take:
- Customize Your Facebook URL. Use your brand or company name.
- Put as much information as possible into your Facebook profile. Use the same keywords you’re using in your other SEO efforts.
- Reach out to customers and learn about competitors using Graph Search.
- Link Your Facebook Page To Your Other Online Presences.
You need to understand that encouraging more Facebook activity doesn’t directly improve your Google search results. However, building stronger links with your audience and driving traffic to other online properties will definitely help your optimization. Don’t neglect the research opportunities offered to you by Graph Search; Facebook’s internal search service can teach you a great deal about both customers and competitors. And keep a close eye on Graph Search; if it does grow into a viable alternative to Google, it’ll deserve that much more of your attention.