How Social Media Affects Search Engine Marketing

by Morgan Siem on June 21, 2010

in Search,Social Media

This is a follow-up from Michael Hubbard‘s blog post “Triangle AMA Recap | Search Without Social is Just Wrong.” Definitely worth reading before you dive into this one – gives a little background.

Social media is like your nagging younger sibling. You may dislike them, pretend that they’re not related to you and even wish they’d disappear off the face of the earth. But guess what?

Plugging your ears won't make it go away

Plugging your ears won't make it go away

That younger sibling (as social media is to search) is:

  • here to stay
  • a reflection of you
  • linked to you (especially in others’ eyes)

So, since you’re so closely related, and since you so greatly impact one another’s lives, why not learn to leverage one another’s strengths?

Here are just a few of the ways that we believe social media impacts search engine marketing. These are based on real data that we have collected while managing search and social media accounts for clients, as well as for Media Two (small biz, B2B) itself:

1. Content is king, & social media creates content

Michael Hubbard already addressed this in his Triangle AMA recap post, so I’ll just make a few points to add to that. The content that you share on your blog, in your videos, via tweets, etc. is all indexed by search engines, which means that it appears in search results. Use your social media accounts to create timely content that is highly relevant in search results. A perfect example came up today with a client of ours. The client noticed that the most searched term on their website this week was “silly bandz,” yet they had no content on their website to support that audience need. Updating the website, building a new landing page, etc. are all great ways to create content, but not at all timely or cost effective when it comes to keeping up with trends. The best way to get content on the site and FAST is to write a blog post. This content will get indexed right away, appear in search results (both within your site and on engines) and keep your audience members on your page by providing the content they are looking for.

2. Commenting

Commenting on other blogs is a way to establish thought leadership, be part of a conversation and attract attention (and links back) to your site. Further, when you allow other people to post comments to your blog, they become more engaged, develop a sense of community and give you valuable feedback. What’s better – it’s all a part of the content on your page that gets indexed in a search.

3. Popularity Points

Google page rank and Google first page results are a popularity contest. At a Raleigh SEO meetup I heard it phrased particularly well one time – Remember that Google is a business selling a product, and that product is relevant search results. People go to Google to find information that they don’t already know exactly where to find. Google is only a valuable tool (and therefore a sustainable business) if it’s providing good results. So, to ensure that it’s not feeding you lame pages, Google has an algorithm to test the strength of the sites it indexes. What I’m calling “popularity points” are ways to prove to Google that your site is engaging to readers and, therefore, popular. Just a few indicators of popularity include number of comments, number of unique visitors, time on site, pageviews and just overall traffic. Social media can drive these kinds of interactions, boosting the value of your site in the eyes of Google.

4. Thought Leadership

A key goal for many businesses on social media is to establish thought leadership. This is especially true of B2B‘s (business-to-business). I often hear the argument that social media is just for B2C. Not true. Not true at all. In any purchasing decision, it’s really about P2P (person-to-person). Before you make the sell, the buyer must trust you and your brand. This means establishing a relationship and providing valuable information that shows your understanding of the product or field. Social media tools and the social media environment provide businesses with channels through which to show off their knowledge. Establish thought leadership in your space. Why does this affect search? Because people who don’t know your brand name, don’t know to search on it. They will, however, search for information within your realm of expertise. If you are the one answering all their questions, don’t you think they’re morel likely to do business with you when the time comes?

5. Own your page 1 results

Michael addressed this point as well, but one of the most prominent ways in which social media affects search is in brand name ownership. If someone searches your brand name, how many of the results are yours?

  1. Your paid link
  2. Your organic website listing
  3. Your blog
  4. Your Twitter account
  5. Your Facebook page
  6. Your LinkedIn account
  7. Your YouTube account
  8. and so on and so forth…

Besides that, tweets themselves are indexed in real-time search on most of the engines, which means that your tweets can appear in the results for any keywords you include in your messaging.

6. Drive Traffic

Tweets are not just 140 characters. They are often just the teasers to lead you to more information. An effective tweet will lure you in for more. You’ll want to follow the account and click on the links for more information. Use shortened links to send traffic to your website, blog, videos, etc. Send people to other channels where they can continue to engage with you – even if they need more than 140 characters to express it.

7. Keep your content fresh

Search engines want to return results that are relevant, timely and up-to-date. Blogging is a great way to keep fresh content on your site without a website refresh. Stale content might be hurting your search results.

There is so much more I’d like to address here, but this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of all the reasons why social media is part of the marketing mix. This is simply to make the correlation between social media and search engine marketing. For more on what we mean by “marketing mix,” see:

I should note here, as a follow up to the AMA luncheon discussion, that Facebook Ads are not social media. They are display ads that are placed on a social media site. It’s the difference between paid media and earned media.

Please, please, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with me? Disagree? Have you seen social media impact your search results?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Buckley June 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

Point #3…

Always remember that it’s not really a popularity contest. Matt Cutts (head of the web spam team at Google) likes to use porn as an example. Porn is very popular on the web, but nobody links to porn sites.

Popularity in search talk actually translates to “incoming editorial links”.

Social media is pretty much the same. People link to what they like, and a density of links to the same page will certainly influence the Google algorithm.

Good post Morgan, especially the take away thought of “OWN YOUR RESULTS”.


Brian McDonald June 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Great points here on exactly how social media impacts SEO and SEM. I think you summarized well how the content and associated links increase your relevancy which is so important. Phil’s example above is true that it needs to have some editorial context to it and most of the non adult content is just that.

Building trust, establishing thought leadership, creating relevancy is the key to creating an online brand presence. We are simply past the point of having a single web presence that savvy consumers want to see more than just a landing page. They want to investigate and see what others are saying about your company and brand as well.


Ellie June 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Without a doubt, agencies should be helping clients to use social to positively impact their search marketing efforts. The two need to be intertwined in the overall marketing strategy – without a solid understanding for how this works – the strategy is incomplete.


Morgan Siem June 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Update: In case this post wasn’t long enough already :) I just read a great post by Brian Solis called “10 Steps for Optimizing the Brand for Social Search.” Well worth the read –


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