Do Social Media Links Help with SEO? CASE STUDY

Do Social Media Links Help with SEO? CASE STUDY
Like Tweet Pin it Share Share Email

Do Social Media Links Help with SEO? CASE STUDY

Case study - do social media links help with SEO

The debate rages on…

  • Do social media links help with SEO?  
  • Can you rank a web page only with social media backlinks?

Short answer:  In my experience, yes, social media links CAN help with SEO and in some cases CAN rank web pages in Google’s search engine.

I’m going to preface the following case study with the following:

1.  The example I use was never intended as a case study.  It’s a comparison of 2 similar pieces of content I published on one of my niche blogs from which in hindsight I observed the SEO benefits of social media links.

2.  Because I’m comparing 2 pieces of different content (although very similar in many respects), I can’t say it definitively proves that social media links help with SEO.  All I can do is infer and speculate based on the results.

3.  The targeted keywords for the case study content are long tail.  Despite the inferences drawn from this case study (i.e. that social media links and engagement can help with SEO), I’m not suggesting that social media links/engagement alone will rank a web page for competitive keywords.

4.  I am not revealing the URLs of the content because I do not reveal my niche sites.  I appreciate that this undermines the “Case Study” but it’s an editorial decision I’ve made on this blog to NOT reveal my niche sites.

Watch the Video (or Read the Case Study Below):

Case Study Scenario/Facts

This case study compares the traffic volume and revenue generated from 2 similar pieces of content both published on the same website.

One piece of content was submitted to social media channels while the other wasn’t.

About the website:

  • Launch date:  February 2014
  • Number of posts:  270 (many of which are extensive in word count and media).
  • Traffic:  1,125,000 page views per month (organic: 125,000 visits per month).
  • Traffic sources:  Social, organic search, native advertising and Bing Ads.
  • Facebook fans:  88,000
  • Pinterest followers:  1,900
  • Tumblr followers:  750
  • Twitter followers:  90
  • Google+ followers:  71
  • SSL certificate installed:  Yes
  • Types of content:  Varied – includes social media viral type content as well as high value organic search intended content (I explain the differences in my Social-SEO Hybrid blogging post).
  • Private blog network involved:  No (for the reasons set out here).

Content #1: WAS submitted to Social Media Channels

Publish date:  July 28, 2014

Commercial value of content (competition rating in Google Keyword Planner):  high

Monthly search volume:

  • KW#1: 320  ($3.01 suggested bid in Keyword Planner)
  • KW#2 (plural form of KW1): 70 ($2.38 suggested bid in Keyword Planner)

Competitive Analysis for top 10 listings in Google SERP for KW#1:

Competitive analysis for top 10 Google SERP listings for keywords targeted by content #1 in case study of whether social media links help with SEO
My niche site is listing #3.

Word count of published content: 1,757

Other links built: None

Title/Copy:  Very similar to content #2.  The only difference is the type of product it covers.  It’s a list-style piece of content.

Traffic volume (organic search last 30 days October 27 to November 25, 2014): 414

Content 1 Organic search traffic volume last 30 days

Google SERP ranking for intended keyword (Source: Serps.com):

  • KW#1: Page 1, 3rd listing (i.e. 3rd listing).
  • KW#2 (very similar to KW1): Page 1, 3rd listing (i.e. 3rd listing).

Revenue (affiliate commissions and display ad earnings October 27 to November 25, 2014):  $165.46 (mostly affiliate commissions).

Content #2: NOT Submitted to Social Media Channels

Publish date:  September 15, 2014.

Commercial value of content (competition rating in Google Keyword Planner):  high

Monthly search volume:

  • KW#1:  350 ($6.01 suggested bid in Keyword Planner).
  • KW#2 (plural form of KW1): 50  ($4.09 suggested bid in Keyword Planner).

Competitive Analysis for top 10 listings in Google SERP for KW#1:

Competitive analysis for top 10 Google SERP listings for keywords targeted by content #2 in case study of whether social media links help with SEO
Since my niche site is ranked #14, it’s not listed in this competition analysis screenshot.

The competition indicators for the keyword targeted by content #2 is SLIGHTLY more competitive.  However, overall, the level of competition in the top 10 SERP listings are fairly similar.

Word count of published content:  1,269

Other backlinks built: None

Title/Copy:  Very similar to content #1.  The only difference is the type of product it covers.  It’s a list-style piece of content.

Traffic volume (organic search last 30 days October 27 to November 25, 2014): 45

Content2 organic search traffic volume last 30 days

Google SERP ranking for intended keywords (Source: Serps.com):

  • KW#1: Page 2, 4th listing (i.e. 14th listing).

Revenue (affiliate and display ad earnings):  $.11

Social media channels to which Content #1 was posted:

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Scoop.It
  • Tumblr
  • Google+
  • Twitter

I only obtained links from my social media channels.  The content was not posted to 3rd party social media channels.

Internal links:

I created internal links to both pieces of content from the same sources on the website.  In other words, both pieces of content receive the same number of internal links from the same sources.

Criticisms of this case study:

1.  It was not set up as a case study.  I’m examining it after the fact (after I noticed how one piece of content dramatically out-performed the other despite being very similar).

2.  Content #1 was published 6 weeks before content #2 giving it a ranking advantage.

3.  While the 2 pieces of content are similar in many respects, they are different (i.e. unique content and targeting slightly different keywords).  Therefore, it’s not 100% apples to apples.

4.  Content piece #2 targets keywords with a higher suggested bid than content piece #1 suggesting more competition for content 2.

5.  The competition analysis for content #2 keywords indicates keywords targeted by content #2 are slightly more competitive than content #1, which partly explains the SERP listing disparity.  However, I don’t believe the competition difference is all that great… certainly not stringent enough to fully account for a 11 spot listing difference (3rd vs. 14th).

6.  Content #1 has 500 more words of content.  That said, both pieces of content have more than 1,200 words of well-written text so it’s a nominal difference (it’s not like 100 words vs. 600 words).

Additional anecdotal evidence:

The above 2 pieces of content is not the only instance where I’ve noticed that social media links can help with SEO.  In fact, I’ve noticed it extensively with my niche blog.

I do not build backlinks to my niche blog.  All links generated were social media links.

I produce content faster than I can promote it on social media channels, which means I have about 100 pieces of content that has not been promoted to my social media channels (I track it via spreadsheet).  What I consistently notice is that content which is posted across my social media channels consistently has higher volumes of organic search traffic (according to Google Analytics).

Another interesting pattern I’ve noticed is that content to which I purchase traffic also attracts higher levels of organic search traffic.  I purchase traffic routinely from Facebook Ads, native advertisers and Bing ads to select pieces of content (FYI – I use Bing ads to send search-oriented traffic to high-value commercial intent content).

Concluding comments:

1.  Creating backlinks and getting the resulting social media engagement CAN help with SEO for ranking long tail keyworded content in Google SERPs.

2.  Building out social media platforms is worth the effort even if they don’t generate all that much traffic.  It only takes seconds to post to each channel (a very quick way to obtain backlinks).

3.  Social media links and engagement alone will not rank content highly in the SERPs for competitive keywords (if it did, I would have a lot more organic search traffic).

4.  Social media links are Penguin-proof.  My organic search traffic steadily grows since the latest Penguin update (I think that was in September 2014).

5.  Something to consider:  it may be worthwhile paying to have content posted to 3rd party social media channels.  Many social media property owners will sell posts/pins/tweets for a nominal amount of money.  This is especially the case if you don’t have your own social media channels set up.

6.  Revenue from a top 5 listing vs. page 2 listing in the SERPs makes a HUGE difference ($165.46 vs. $.11).

7.  List-style posts and titles convert well in the  SERPs as well.  Content #1 received 414 organic search visits during the last 30 days, which is quite a bit given the main keyword search volume (I received traffic from other keyword searches too).  My post is the only one in the top 10 with a list-style title, which I suspect attracts a disproportionately high number of search visitors.

8.  It’s possible content length makes a difference.  Content #1 is 500 words longer than Content #2.

Do Social Media Links Help with SEO? CASE STUDY
Do Social Media Links Help with SEO? CASE STUDY

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *