Do You Have to Use Social Media Too?
Recently I was asked if Social Media (Facebook in particular) was necessary for a website to have. My answer is … ‘Yes and No’.
Search Engines, like Google, use mathematical algorithms (I have no idea how those work) to determine, from the billions of sites out there, which ones to rank where on any given search results page. The algorithm is designed to look for many, many factors on a website and off the website itself (but still about the website) to determine its relevance and therefore, its ranking.
For example, if you were to search for ‘west Edmonton daycare’ and Google’s little ‘bots/spiders’ had previously searched the internet and indexed (stored in their treasure trove of websites on the web) 30 or 40 different daycares or related businesses, before the results are displayed to you, it also must determine in what order of relevance these listings should be displayed. They want you, the searcher, to find what you are looking for so you keep coming back to them as your search engine of choice. So they go looking (with their algorithm) at the websites best suited for your query and determine their ranking by looking at the other activity surrounding those sites. Activity such as social sharing, reviews on other sites, mentions in other directories, links from other sites, new content on the site itself, etc, etc.
So which of those daycare sites are going to show up in the search results?
How Do Search Engines Rank Sites?
Most businesses doing any measure of online marketing, whether local or global, are aware that to appear first on the first page of search results is the most desired spot, and any position closest to the top after that. These tend to be the most clicked on links.
Test this for yourself. Go to a search engine, or recall the last time you searched for something, chances are you instinctively knew your best result was at the top and you proceeded to visit the links in order expecting to find what you were looking for. After searching through the first 3 or 4, if you didn’t find what you were looking for you began to skip around hoping one of the lower selections will be what you need. But you, and the search engines, know that typically the best results are nearest the top.
What Does Facebook Have to do with Rankings?
So, what does all this have to do with social media sites like Facebook and whether they are significant or necessary for businesses like yours?
In order to compete to be your search engine of choice, search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing, are always trying to ‘up their game’ over their competition and filter non-relevant search results from the search result pages. Google has said that one of the latest changes to their algorithms is the addition of a social signals filter.
This change in the algorithm is now searching for your websites mentions and social sharing on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. the more your site or brand is being shared, ‘Liked’, commented on or re-tweeted, this tells the search engines that your site has some current relevance and seems to be popular (if in fact, there is some sharing, ‘Liking’ and re-tweeting going on).
If your website or brand does not have a presence on the internet outside its own website, and no new information on your website such as a blog would have, an unclaimed Google listing, Yellow Pages and directory listings with outdated information and no social media presence, any of your competition that does have these things will most likely be deemed more relevant than your listing and display higher in the rankings.
OK, I said ‘most likely’ only because there really are even more things that play a part in the search engine rankings, such as authority of backlinks, type of content on your site, duplicate content, broken links, reviews on other sites, and many other factors beyond my knowledge. Google just doesn’t share everything.
Is Social Media Right for Your Audience?
Social Media sites are also designed for different audiences and not all of them are appropriate for every business. I don’t know if Google ‘thinks’ about this when determining rankings, but you should because you still want to do what is best for you, your brand and your market.
I just may do a post on what some of the more popular social media sites might best be used for. If you’d like me to, please leave your comment here and let me know.
How do you feel about social media use for your website/brand presence on the web?