Over the past couple of years, we have seen the merger of social media and search engine optimization unfold. How will social media impact SEO? Is SEO dead? The answers to these questions have been debated, tested and changed many times and by many different people. So, whom should we believe?
We should believe the data and only the data, and in order to have a data set that can give us correct answers, we must keep testing.
There are a few facts to keep in mind as we begin to collect and measure data that can assess impact. We must ask ourselves, “who’s in bed with who?” Forgive me for the analogy, but I feel that is in the only way to truly convey this message. Here are some examples based on facts:
- Google is working with Twitter and has started to index tweets. This article from Search Engine Land will give you a fantastic explanation on “Everything You Need to Know About the Google-Twitter Partnership.”
- Facebook owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus VR. Microsoft owns Xbox and Windows. Xbox has recently partnered with Oculus VR and the first-generation of Rift will require Windows 7sp1 or higher, this completely excludes Apple users.
- Google is currently the default search engine on Apple’s Safari browser.
- Facebook released its own search function and dropped Bing search results. Then Microsoft transfers display ads business to Verizon-owned AOL. In return, AOL ends its search relationship with Google. According to an article in adexchanger, “The deal gives AOL responsibility for both hand-sold and programmatic ads in nine of Microsoft’s largest markets, and across its entire media portfolio including display, mobile and video ads on MSN, Windows, Outlook.com, Skype and Xbox.”
- Yahoo (which owns Flickr and Tumblr) recently renegotiated a deal with Bing. Bing will serve 51% of Yahoo’s search results and the remaining 49% are left for Yahoo to do with as they please.
Why does all of this matter?
89% of time spent on mobile media is spent on applications, not search When dealing with mobile search, advertising and purchasing this all matters. Time spent on mobile digital media is now greater than desktop and other media use. Mobile media holds 51% of digital media time in the United States and continues to grow. The really important fact about mobile media consumption, however, is that 89% of time spent on mobile media is spent on applications, not search. That is why these major partnerships are beginning to emerge. Search needs to partner with social applications, because that is where the majority of people spend their time. Not to mention that the emerging markets are Smart TV’s and Game Consoles (remember the Xbox-Oculus partnership from earlier?).
The latest battle between companies is between Pinterest, Google, and Facebook. All three companies are trying to deploy the “Buy” button function to their applications to capitalize on the emerging mobile e-commerce markets (which now represents 50.3% of all e-commerce traffic). Pinterest is adding “Buy” buttons to pins, Facebook is adding them to Instagram and Facebook posts, and Google is adding them to search results and YouTube ads (Google owns YouTube). We have also seen that Twitter now allows users to purchase via their platform as well.
Now let’s take this all back to SEO and social media. Search engines are partnering with social media platforms to integrate, share and use each other’s data. As we use mobile more and leave our mobile applications open, we are helping to better inform search engines and ad platforms on what we are influenced by. The better they can judge influence, the better they can judge authority, and in SEO authority is what matters most.
On the other side of the coin, we should start thinking about search algorithms within social media platforms. What are they? How do they work? Is there or will there be a benefit as we move into a mobile app dominated world? I think so. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter have all recently released new search functions within their applications and platforms. Google is now indexing tweets and we have seen social media posts appear in search results for a couple of years now.
To sum it all up as much as possible, does social media impact your websites’ authority? Local pages on Google+ and Facebook can have a negative impact on local search if your location is incorrect, or contact information inaccurate. Pinterest only allows one website to be verified to one Pinterest page, which automatically adds validation and can add authority. Google is currently only indexing tweets based on authority and influence. Lastly, if you spam your YouTube page you risk your Google+ business page being removed as well, which impacts local search.
So yes, I believe based on the facts that social media impacts SEO and that as we become more mobile, the trend will only increase. Oh, and SEO is NOT dead. What are your thoughts?