The Must Know Relationship Between Organic Ranking and Social Shares
Many people keep asking the question how social media signals affects organic search rankings. In the recent past, this has been a big question that we haven’t the right answers for. First and foremost, many will wonder why there is a direct relationship between organic ranking and social shares.
It is well known that Google does not take into consideration the number of social shares in their search algorithm. However, many feel that most sites with high social share count actually fair better in Google rankings.
Social Shares and Google Rankings
In the past 5 years or so, there has been a raging debate regarding the relationship between Organic Ranking and Social Shares (Social Media and SEO). This type of correlation has brought with it mixed reactions from the public. Nonetheless, it is observable that stories that, do well in terms of rankings are those that have a high rate of social shares.
This is as a result of high-quality content which has the ability to drive traffic to your site at a steady rate. High-quality content or “Unicorn”, as it is commonly known, has the ability to drive traffic ten times or more than the usual run of the mill content (“Donkeys”). The question, therefore, is why highly-ranked posts have the highest number of shares as opposed to the usual content?
Many observers believe that Google does somehow factor in the use of social share counts in their ranking system. Even though the question of how Google accounts for the social share counts remains elusive, it is important to note that they, nevertheless, bring in secondary SEO and social media benefits.
Google has been on record as saying that they do not consider social share counts as part of their search algorithms and neither do they use, other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to rank sites.
Social Shares correlate with Engagements in Terms of Organic Ranking
On the other side of the divide, there is the issue of engagements as a result of social shares. Is it possible that due to social share counts, sites are able to rank highly because of their ability to attract more engagements within their target population? How many people can actually follow a link provided by a stranger? Is it also possible that social posts that get high engagement rates are those that are known to come from high-quality content that receives the most clicks in organic search result pages?
Studies indicate that the use of bots and other external factors greatly affect social share counts and that many social media enthusiasts share content without reading it in the first place. It is common knowledge that Facebook shares have a higher engagement rate which leads to higher click-through rate (CTR). Facebook engagement rates are found in the range of between 6-13%.
It is expected that the emotions or feelings that make individuals share things are the same ones that make others click on those links in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It should also be noted that unicorn content will always take the lead when it comes to rankings on SERPs.
The ‘donkeys’ will always have a weak correlation in terms of rankings since most of its content is either irrelevant or not up to standards. It is, therefore, safe to say that social engagement has a direct relationship with CTR and vice versa. The main issue here is not to seek the relationship between organic ranking and social shares per SEO, but rather how engaging your content is.
Real Life Examples
Recently there was a post that was shared on Facebook which had an engagement rate of 7.4 on Facebook and generated nearly 500,000 visits from the organic search. Another one which had an engagement rate of 8.5 on Facebook generated about 250,000 visits on organic search. Moreover, there was also another post with an engagement rate of 7.4 which generated about 100,000 visits on organic search. The question here is whether such incidences were coincidences or they were figures which exhibited a direct correlation between these two factors.
image courtesy : WordStream
Is it a correlation or a causation?
It is believed that the relationship between the organic click and social engagement is a result of a co-dependence and causal relationship. Social media sites like Facebook reward contents that have a higher engagement rate with higher visibility. This is done by machine learning systems which are able to improve organic rankings and even add more social shares. Content that fails to meet the expected engagement fails to get much visibility. The click-through rates on search engines is a great way of finding out whether Google is giving the right answers and in the right order.
When it comes to Facebook, a lot of people will talk about a hot issue in relation to the people who see it. This is evident through likes, shares or comments. These topics are then given greater visibility with the Facebook machine learning algorithms which repeats itself over and over again.
Steps to take
It is best to turn your social content into organic content and vice versa. It has been observed that content that does well in social media for SEO has a tendency of also doing great in paid social and gets top organic rankings. A unicorn has good ideas at heart that produces content with a high conversion rate which does well not only in organic rankings but also in the social media circles.
In the past, it was believed that high social shares directly correlate with high organic rankings. However, this fallacy was put to rest when people realized that it was not the number of social shares that really mattered but the rate of engagement. High social engagements are now known to correlate strongly with the organic search click through rates which subsequently correlate with higher rankings. The current state of affairs presents all social media sites and Google search with learning machines which are able to reward higher levels of engagements with greater visibility.