Does social media impact SEO? A real experiment
There is a long discussion between social media developers about SEO and social media and its interaction. In 2010, both Google and Bing admitted to using social signals to help rank pages within their results. Four years later, that stance changer after the Twitter blocked Google`s access to their social network. In 2014, Google`s former head of webspam, Matt Cutts, released a video explaining how Google can rely on signals that might not be there tomorrow. After that, discussion stopped. However, it`s already 2019, and the question is still actual – can social media help improve search rank?
To give an answer to this question, we`ve decided to show you an experiment called “elephant in the room”.
The structure of the experiment
Representatives from Hootsuite`s inbound marketing, data analytics and social marketing terms came together to develop a reliable and controlled test approach.
The posted content was organized into three groups:
- The control group. 30 articles that received no organic publishing or paid promotion on social media
- Group A (organic only). 30 articles published organically on Twitter
- Group B (paid promotion). 30 articles published organically on Twitter, then boosted for two days with a budget of $100 each.
To make it simple, the test was run on Twitter with a publishing schedule to keep it on track.
However, before launching the test, there was a need of leveling the paying field. So, for a full week prior to the launch, none of the 90 articles chosen from the experiment were updated or promoted. With this move, developers were able to establish a baseline of their search ranking.
To be sure that all bases are covered, it was decided to record the following data points:
- The tracking keywords
- The tracking URLs (blog articles)
- The monthly search volume for each keyword
- The Google search rank of each article before the test and after the test
- The number of unique websites pointing to each article before and after the test
- The URL rating for each article before and after the test
During the test, developers found out that there was an indirect relationship between social media and SEO. At this point, content that performs well on social media will likely earn more backlinks, which helps boost search rank.
Because of the indirect relationship between social and search ranking, it`s important to be able to articulate whether traditional page authority metrics played a role in any change of rank.
The results of the experiment
After the detailed analysis, developers found out that there is a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.
Yes, social media can impact SEO. However, it doesn`t mean that you have a free pass to over-post and spam people`s feeds. With this move, you risk to lose followers` attention. They can start ignoring your post or, what is more, stop following you.
You should post regularly, but the quality should also be on the highest level.