By Anna Seacat
Since taking my first course on SEM (search engine marketing) at Southern New Hampshire University, I have become slightly obsessed with the discipline. Most of my days involve trying to consume enough SEM-related content and applying principles provided within the content to remain viable as a digital marketer. SEM is a moving target, which is partly why I’m attracted to it. With my background and interest in SEM being established, I’ll start this post by offering clarification on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), because I often see it being discussed in terms of paid media. Next, I will provide an example of how social media usage can enhance SEO efforts. Last, I will use the evidence I provide to draw a conclusion about which social media platform should be preferred and why, when focusing on SEO.
What SEO is NOT
First, I’d like to offer clarification on what SEO is not. SEO does not involve paid media. If you can buy it, as in Google AdWords, native ads/ sponsored content, Facebook Ads, etc, it is not considered a part of SEO. SEO uses earned media, not paid media. In other words, SEO tactics exploit search algorithms to earn precious online real estate. Meanwhile, paid media, which can include “display ads, remarketing, and paid ads on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter,” as well as sponsored stories and images (Skinner, 2014), appear online because an advertiser has bought the space. The intent behind this clarification is to not to suggest that an advertiser should select between paid and earned media, rather my point is to show the distinct difference between the two SEM tactics.
So, now that I have established that SEO involves earned online presence, I will offer an example of how social media marketing can enhance SEO efforts. The most obvious example of social media marketing supporting search is how quickly and noticeably Google+ posts and shares can affect a SERP (search engine results pages). I notice this daily in my graduate work and during apprenticeships. For example, after I design several pieces of related content on multiple platforms, I create a Google+ post for each site of content, which contains the unique URLs, as well as a lengthy description of the content.
By doing so, I am using social media to enhance SEO in several ways. First, by sharing the URLs on Google+ I am forcing Google’s search bots to crawl and index my content immediately. As explained in a 2013 Forbes article, “Facebook posts are often never crawled or indexed by Google at all, which means they don’t appear in search results. In contrast, posts in Google+ are crawled and indexed almost immediately and show up in search rankings” (Murdock, 2013). Second, by sharing the content and a lengthy description of the content on Google+, I am both telling the search engine what the link is about and increasing the likelihood of earning a +1, which dramatically affects organic search ranking.
Google +1s Contribute to SEO More Than…
In fact, recent research by Moz Data Science and Dr. Matt Peters showed that posts in Google+ positively enhance organic search rankings by measuring the correlation with search rankings and the Google +1s. Their findings were astonishing: “After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor…the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage” (Shepard, 2013). Moz’s scientists were not the only research group to prove that social shares on this platform enhance SEO efforts. In the 2013 Searchmetrics Ranking Factors for Google USA, Google +1s were the highest correlated factor when determining rank position within organic search results (Tober, 2013).
Concluding Thought: Stop Wasting So Much Marketing Spend on Facebook
So, if by now you aren’t asking yourself why your marketing team spends so much time on Facebook and has only a mediocre showing on Google+, you should be. In the past 12 months, I have intentionally omitted Facebook from all of my marketing plans for clients to show that I can obtain SERP domination for LSI (latent semantic indexing) keyword phrases without one single Facebook post (or an account for that matter). For your reference, here is a link to a case study (http://bit.ly/SEOCaseStudybySeacat), which highlights one of these “Facebook-snubbing” plans. Through this case study and the evidence I provided above, I hope I have convinced you that social media marketing through Google+ can dramatically enhance SEO efforts and should be invested in appropriately.
Murdock, N. (2013). Why Google+ Will Beat Facebook. Forbes. Retrieved from
Skinner, S. (2014). Use Paid Promotion to Refine Your SEO and Make Your Visitors More
Valuable. The Moz Blog. Retrieved from http://moz.com/blog/using-paid-promotion-to-
Shepard, C. (2013). Amazing Correlation Between Google +1s and Higher Search Rankings. The
Moz Blog. Retrieved from http://moz.com/blog/google-plus-correlations
Tober, M. (2013). The Ranking Factors – Rank Correlations 2013 for Google USA.
Searchmetrics SEO Blog. Retrieved from