Social Media Is Now The #1 Most Important Factor In SEO

social media SEOSEO is a like a clock, always shifting, and kept true by machinery fathomless to the general population. Even people who make a living learning these intricate machinations are, at best, constantly battling to stay relevant. The hidden algorithms utilized by search engines like Google keep us on our toes, demanding constant vigilance and supreme dedication to the craft. That’s what makes search engine optimization a full time job…one best handled by experts.

Searchmetrics, a company dedicated to peeling back the curtain, has released a study that does much to answer the question: what factors are relevant for a good ranking on Google? The company has performed exhaustive research on, “10,000 selected top-keywords, 300,000 websites and millions of links, shares and tweets.” Let’s break down a couple of their most important findings.

First, we want to cover the old guard: backlinks. Despite a lot of worry around the industry, backlinks remain incredibly relevant. In fact, the number of backlinks remains the second most important factor overall. It’s not just about quantity though. The study shows that links with stop words and nofollow are also significant factors in a page’s ranking.

If backlinks is second overall, what’s number one? It may come as a surprise if you haven’t been steeping yourself in industry news of late. It turns out; social media is far and away the most important part of any SEO strategy today. Specifically, your page being shared on Facebook has the largest impact of any single factor. Following shares are comments, likes, and Tweets.

What does this mean for the industry? Businesses that have been ignoring social media are going to find themselves slipping in the ranks, if they haven’t already slipped. This study makes it clear that links ARE NOT ENOUGH. To remain competitive in today’s market, you MUST become heavily involved in social media.

This trend will ultimately make the internet a better place. With social media shares ruling the roost, you’ll see far less spammy content and pages of useless links. Wikimotive has long upheld that content is king, and this has never been more true. To succeed in SEO today, you need to succeed in social media, and to succeed in social media, you need to produce quality content that engages your audience so that your shares (and likes, favorites, Tweets, reTweets, etc.) organically grow.

Original article on social media and SEO posted on Wikimotive’s blog under the title There’s A New #1 Factor For SEO Ranking!

Tim Martell

Timothy Martell is a digital marketing and SEO expert regularly sought out by both media and industry leaders for his opinion on social media marketing campaigns that really work. Timothy has been seen on MSNBC and Dateline, has been interviewed twice by Facebook for his successful dealership advertising campaigns, has been a featured speaker at automotive conferences such as, DMSC, AMBC, and the Driving Sales Executive Summit and has been featured on the cover of AutoSuccess magazine. Timothy is known for pushing the boundaries of conventional automotive thinking and producing social media campaigns that generate massive numbers of followers leading to record ROI.

26 thoughts on “Social Media Is Now The #1 Most Important Factor In SEO

  1. Social really is putting the importance back in front of the people that are actually engaging with your content. Which is what SEO was all about to begin with!

  2. I disagree. I think on-site SEO is still the most important factor. As far as social media playing a role, it still isn’t completely foolproof as people can still buy followers to influence their rankings.

  3. It is not a surprise because as we can see, internet world is getting humanize. It is all about human to use internet, who land on your site, who buy your products/services. Even though social media will never replace SEO, but it is getting important for SEO signal.

  4. The point here isn’t to suggest that social is more important than SEO or vice versa. But that the two have become interconnected and current data suggests that Facebook shares influence search rankings to a higher degree than backlinks.

    And how is social relevance any different than seo with trying to buy influence? You can buy links just as surely as you can buy Facebook shares!

  5. I’m in both worlds, SEO and social media. From what we are observing, it’s not so much the Facebook shares, likes, comments, or retweets, but far more weight in the ranking algorithm appears to be placed on CLICKS coming from social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn etc. Being that many people’s Facebook walls are set to block search engine access in their privacy settings, a far more widely used variable that can easily be measured by Google are the actual CLICKS of any shared link, which can be measured by way of the user being logged into any Google property (Gmail, YouTube, lots of others…), or if the user is on Chrome at the time of the click, or if the URL the user clicked on had Google Analytics installed, as most sites do nowadays. Anyone can set-up dozens of bogus Facebook/Twitter accounts and begin sharing/retweeting away. It’s a lot harder to get different people (to a robot unique and legitimate IP addresses) to click on those shared links. Thus I built my social media seo tool (won’t plug the URL here).

  6. I think, the algorithm is way more complex. I can see social media as a ranking factor on the short term, but not on the long run. People share timely articles and news through their SM accounts, but these posts have a short life span. Stories shared a week ago are buried deep in oblivion of a vast virtual cemetery of posts, likes and shares that nobody will ever see again. If I would be Google (and I have the feeling they do it), I would tweak the algorithm to change it depending on the publishing/updating date of a page. In the end, to paraphrase Google, good quality content is the king / #1 factor in SEO.

  7. This is wrong Tim. Backlinks are the primary factor for off-site SEO.

    The correlation that they found in that study is the other way around – the sites ranking higher in the SERPs get an exponential amount more traffic, and are usually of a higher quality to begin with – which equates to more shares via social media. Social media has no direct bearing on search rankings, except in the cases of Google Search + your world, and Bing’s integrated social search, which uses your Facebook account to reposition results that your friends on Facebook have liked or recommended.

    Justin is correct though, On Site SEO is way more important than off site factors, but for highly competetive terms off site factors that are entirely related to backlinks are the deciding factor. A lot of bloggers mis interpreted the report you quoted, and people have spread “social shares affect SEO” like wildfire. It’s not like that at all, and it’s easy to see that it isn’t – you can turn social interference on and off in your Google search results. Social shares only affect the results when you have search + your world turned on If your friends on Google+ have interacted with the content. Facebook does not even affect Google results then.

    I have completed several independent studies across a number of categories and have not beenable to improve a single ranking with social shares. Others have done the samething.

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  9. Dear Tim,

    Well, actually I am disappointed by this article. I came here after the kw “most important social backlinks” and this page ranks in #4 of the 1st page of Google. But, c’mon.. You have to give samples of social media and how they differ, like, fb, twitter, digg, delicious and other.
    Well, all you talk is about that companies aren’t using it enough. But why are they that important in the eyes of search engines, what to look for and what to avoid.
    This is definitely – a very important topic, but you, sorry, have skipped all the interesting and useful data.

    I really hope that you will see this comment as constructive suggestions :)

    Media Tower Limited

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    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
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  11. yes i am totally agree with you SEO is a like a clock, always shifting i always believe that something is more important then others same like your keyword competition so why not social media, even it increase your sales instantly…even i have seen so many sites they have good traffic because of Facebook and other social media….

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  14. Interesting article Tim. It looks like it has been vindicated by recent research about social media being the most correlated ranking factor. Links will always remain important, as Matt Cutts said yesterday, but social media needs to be considered as the most important ranking indicator ABOVE links.

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