Do Social Media Links Offer any SEO Value?
Backlinks remain one of the most influential factors that affect a website’s search ranking. If a website has a high number of backlinks from relevant, authoritative sources, it will naturally rank higher than a similar website with few-to-no backlinks. But how does Google view backlinks created through social media? Do they offer any real benefit in terms of search engine optimization (SEO)?
Social Media Links are Nofollow
It’s important to note that nearly all of the major social media networks — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — use the nofollow attribute on external links. This means all outgoing links created by users are NOT followed by certain search engines. From an outsider’s perspective, the links look and function just like any ordinary links. When a user clicks it, he or she is directed to the website URL listed in the link. Because it contains the nofollow attribute, however, it will not influence the linked site’s ranking — as least that’s the general concept behind the nofollow attribute.
Matt Cutts Talks About Social Media SEO
Last year Matt Cutts, former team leader for Google’s Webspam team, posted a Q&A video on YouTube in which he talked about social media links and whether or not they influence a website’s ranking. According to Cutts, Facebook and Twitter are treated just like every other site, meaning Google crawls and indexes them normally. However, Cutts added that Google doesn’t have any signals that measure the number of Facebook likes or Twitter tweets a website has received.
“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to sort of say ‘you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook’, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithm,” said Cutts.
Dissecting Cutts’ Statement
Cutts’ statement about social media and SEO is ambiguous at best, leaving users to interpret it as they see fit. Going back over his statement, however, you’ll see that he only disregards specific social media signals like Facebook likes and Twitter tweets, while saying that social media sites are handled just like any other website. This would lead some people to believe that social media links may help a site’s search ranking.
If you are going to create links on social media, there a couple of rules you should follow.
Best Practices for Creating Social Media Links:
- Don’t spam your links. Try to get into the habit of mixing your social media content with links, images, video and text.
- Publish new links on social media as soon as the page is created.
- When publishing links on Google+ and Facebook, make sure the thumbnail is viewable.
- Don’t focus solely on social media for link building.
Do you think social media links are beneficial for SEO purposes? Let us know in the comments section below!
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