At present, social networking activity does not directly affect search results – a surge of Facebook Likes, Google +1’s, or Twitter links will not boost your site to the top of the first page of search results. However, they do increase click-through rate, which in turn increases potential social shares. These are indirect benefits which ultimately result in a better search ranking for your site. As such, social media should be an important part of your site’s SEO strategy. To illustrate the point, let us take a closer look at two of the many ways in which SEO & social media strategies integrate.

SEO “Versus” Social Media

SEO helps improve the opportunity for a web page to be displayed as a prominent result for search queries a potential customer would use when seeking your product or service. This positions your business as one of the primary considerations a customer will consider for the good/service being sought. Since there’s no direct outreach being done, SEO can be seen as a preemptive strategy.

When a piece of content receives a “Like” or “+1″, a user is given the option to add a comment and share the content to their contacts on the respective social network. Through social media, instantaneous visibility to a potentially vast network of people can result all from one click. Unlike with SEO, users who see social network activity may or may not have a need or interest in your site, product or service. However, should the need for your product/service arise, a user will be far more likely to consider your offering if they’ve seen your company or brand appear in the social streams of people a user knows and trusts.

Both SEO and Social Media strategies are fundamental to an online business’s growth and revenue. Neither strategy can completely replace the other, but can instead complement the other to maximize conversion potential.

SEO “With” Social Media

Social media’s role in search is centered around the idea that content recommended by peers holds greater appeal to a user than content promoted by strangers.

In applying this concept to Search, social media has begun to expand beyond limits of each social network’s virtual walled garden. Facebook Likes are not just highlighted on the website anymore – Facebook activity that is relevant to a search query appears within Bing’s results. In a similar fashion, Google’s own search engine recently launched “Search Plus Your World”, which supplements result pages with relevant activities and content from its own Google+ social network. These changes have introduced a recommendation layer to search engines that is powered by the activity of peers.

Social network activities produce lasting signals that can utilize user data to help curate the web for everyone. If a user is logged into an account with the engine, social media integration in search results will now show if a user has promoted (Facebook Like/Google +1) a page in the past, as well as any social network contacts that have also promoted the page in question.

On top of the relative newness of these features, market share is undoubtedly a limiting factor: Google, the world’s largest search engine, aggregates data from its modestly new Google+ social network. Conversely, where Microsoft’s Bing has a respectable, but overall lower market share percentage, it uses data from Facebook, to personalize search engine results pages. As the use of these activities continues to grow and search engines refine social network integration, these activities will become a core aspect of a site’s SEO strategy.

There are numerous benefits to integrating social networks into your site’s design. Though these activities won’t cause a direct increase in ranking position keywords, the visibility and engagement they invite are extremely valuable to any website owner today.

At RankPay, we are increasing our outreach to customers to help them optimally set-up Social Sharing buttons on their sites on behalf of Google & Facebook… please visit our Social Integration & Implementation Page for additional support and insight.