Search engines were once the trolls of the internet. That is, they were basically big trolling machines that mined the internet for keywords. And obviously if a website had a high number of a certain keyword, they would come up first in the search results. Well, we’ve moved on (much further on) since then. Today, search engine results are many times more complicated and take into account a number of different factors when figuring search engine ranking.
Now it the ever-evolving job of the SEO professionals to stay on top of the logic and algorithms of search engines and help websites like yours get a fair shake at the top placement in a Google search results page. And as this job gets harder and begins to encompass more, SEOs are discovering that their work involves not just a one-time SEO fix to a websites, but ongoing engagement, off-site links, social media, and more. In fact, social media is one of the latest facets of SEO to come under much scrutiny and focus by SEOs.
Back in December, Google and Bing both announced that they were now taking into consideration public Twitter and Facebook news feed information when calculating page rank and search result page placement. At the time, no one knew just how much of an effect links shared through social media would have on overall SEO and page rank. But a few case studies since then have revealed that social media may have much more sway than originally thought. In fact, a Facebook marketing strategy may make or break the SEO of your website.
Although it’s been pretty well hinted at that social media (namely Facebook and Twitter) can have a very high effect on your website SEO, the real question is: Which social media platform should you concentrate on to build your SEO and convert customers?
Of course, the first answer is “both.” But what if you have a limited amount of time and money to spend on marketing. Small businesses might find themselves in a bind when it comes to the amount of time they can spend marketing through social media.
To answer this questions, let’s turn to Mashable, who recently published a small case study of the effectiveness of Facebook marketing vs. Twitter marketing and how much ROI one could expect from each.
Through their research over the last three months, Mashable discovered that users on Twitter are more likely to share links than they are to click on them, and that Facebook users are exactly the opposite—more willing to click on a link than to share. This dichotomy can cause some bewildering looks, so let’s break it down a bit more.
What they found was that a Mashable link shared on Facebook got an average of 3.31 clicks. On the other hand, links shared through Twitter received only 0.38 clicks. From these numbers, it looks like Facebook links were more likely to be clicked on by users, and thus Facebook marketing would be more cost effective than Twitter marketing.
However, comparing the two social media platforms might not be fair. The two systems have completely different interfaces as well as social norms. For instance, on Twitter, information tends to move much faster and can get lost in the stream from time to time. As well, Facebook links are generally accompanied by a picture and a personal message from the user (a message that is generally longer than one would see in a Tweet). When we’re just talking screen real estate, bigger might be better.
Also, you have to take into account the difficulty of tracking some of these statistics. Although most people use Facebook through the website Facebook.com (something easily trackable by analytics), most Twitter users don’t use the website as their main interface—generally using 3rd party apps instead. When users click on these links, the traffic is read as direct traffic by website analytics programs. So the Twitter information could be off by quite a wide margin. Consider the fact that Mashable has over 2.2 million Twitter followers, but only about 460,000 Facebook followers. Looking at these numbers, Mashable certainly gets its links in front of more eyeballs on Twitter than on Facebook.
Although Facebook shares seem to be more profitable for some companies, Facebook might not be the best place to spend your money, depending on your business. When looking at your Facebook marketing campaign, take into account who your target audience is and where they are more likely to spend their time on the internet. For anyone in the media business, Twitter is the clear choice. However, if you own a local sewing shop, Facebook might be of better benefit. All in all, however, it simply comes down to knowing who your customers are and what they like to do.
The other factor to take into consideration is that, as far as we can tell, Google and the other search engines don’t weigh shares on Facebook any heavier than RTs on Twitter. In other words, your SEO is boosted no matter where your links are shared. And boosting your SEO is really what we’re talking about here. In fact, the according to the number above, and taking into account the link-sharing nature of Twitter, the 140-character micro-blogging site might actually be better at boosting your SEO than any Facebook marketing campaign. Although Facebook might be really good for boosting traffic to your site, the average Twitter user shares more than he/she clicks, resulting in a space where your links could be shared many times over, increasing your site SEO and page rank.
In either case, no matter if you dump more money into Facebook marketing or Twitter marketing campaigns, the more your links are shared on either one, the more your site will get an SEO benefit. And that SEO boost can help you rank higher in the search results, giving you more site traffic and more conversions. So, to answer the question earlier: Which social media platform should you concentrate on for SEO? There is no clear answer. Analyze your website visitors and your audience and decide which social media platform is more likely to boost your SEO according to your users.
Brad Anderson is the Executive Director and Founder of Fruition. Brad’s focus is supporting Fruition’s team to enable sustainable growth and excellent client satisfaction (EBITDA growth). With a strong statistical background, Brad built Fruition’s in-house software that is used to manage client success.
President & Founder, Tru Family Dental
Marketing, Dependable Cleaners
President & Founder, Family Travel Association