When I started this post I was inclined to base my findings on what is circulating on the web on the topic of social media links, that is to say, the general opinion that social media links are neither counted nor not counted as SEO factors.
But I realized I was in the unique position of being able to test this theory firsthand. I had recently built a webpage for a lovely lady called Pat Hayward in Australia. Pat is a potter and I built a simple business card web page for her. I noticed when checking she ranked on the first page of Google for the keywords Pat Hayward- nothing unusual about this, names are usually fairly low completion keywords…unless your name is Beyonce or Barack Obama, anyhow I thought since I had a page one rank with absolutely no SEO apart for content creation, which was minimal for this site then I could do a little experimenting with this.
I figured I would place a link to Pat’s page from the 4 big Social Media outlets and do this one by one and check how it affected Pat’s ranking. At the time of writing this Pat’s ranking had moved to page 5, but this is what I call natural slippage since I have yet to do any SEO and this site is a business card page and doesn’t regularly add new content then this movement is natural. The big four are Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Pinterest.
On the 2nd of June 2019, Pathaywardpottery.com was ranked 5th on page one of Google for the keyword Pat Hayward. I added a pin to Pinterest of one of the images on pat’s page.
I checked a week later on the 8th of June 2019 and Pats Page had slipped to page 5 on google for the keyword Pat Hayward.
This move had been a bad one, clearly pinning to Pinterest had adversely affect Pat’s SEO. This is found interesting since all the information I had gleaned on Social Media links said Google simply ignores them. But clearly this is not the case.
I deleted the pin and refresh Google and Pat was back to the 5th place on page one for the keyword Pat Hayward.
So I thought I’d do the same with Facebook next. I moved house at this time so there is a bit of a time gap here.
On the 29th of June PatHaywardPottery.com was third down on page 5 of google for the keyword Pat Hayward.
I checked again on the 15th July and Pat was back at page one 5th place for the keyword Pat Hayward
Conclusion: Facebook links add to SEO value.
However, I intuit that if you made massive amounts of Facebook links they would penalize you for it so play it cautiously.
On Wednesday the 15th of July Pathaywardpottery.com was ranked 5th on page one of Google for the keyword Pat Hayward.
I added a link through my Google plus account. On Sat the 18th July I checked Pat Hayward and found that pats homepage was nowhere to be found(I checked up to about page 12 of google).
The only thing I found was her exhibition page(pathaywardpottery.com/exhib) and that was still on page 1.
I deleted my google plus post and reloaded the search for Pat Hayward and pats landing page, (pathaywardpottery.com) was back to page one again.
Now it would be easy to draw the conclusion that google penalized me for the google plus link, however, I think this penalty had more to do with relevance than google plus.
If I had a google plus account based on pottery and linked to pat I think it would count as a relevant and therefore valued link, most of the links I post in my google plus account are about comics, so in this instant, I think it is relevancy rather than google plus alone that counted against my page rank.
The problem I ran into with the Google plus link was relevancy, given some thought, I realized that my twitter account which is mainly comprised of posts about comics would be a poor fit for a link and would penalize pat’s site like the google plus link, so I opted to not post a twitter link as I feel I would encounter the same results.
However this has led me to my next topic to blog on, relevancy.
As a conclusion, you can’t simply ignore social media and deem it as unhelpful in your SEO efforts. Ranking can be impacted by your social media activity.