How Social Media can help improve Organic Search Rankings

Social Media sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Delicious are highly authoritative sites which can dramatically improve search engine rankings if used properly.  Any SEO specialist knows link building is essential to improving search engine visibility, but some clients have trouble accepting social media as a link building tactic.  

In order to help show how effective social media really is with respect to rankings I’m going to use a sample article promoted by Best Rank, Inc.  The article in question was promoted only on Reddit.com and succesfully hit the front page.  If you’re forunate enough to achieve the front page of Reddit.com, you’ll know that your story gets pulled to Wired.com, Popurls.com, and many other mash-up sites across the web.  Below I’ve provided an overview of the keyword rankings, back links, and traffic generated by our social media marketing efforts:

URL: http://www.resourcenation.com/blog/top-iphone-applications-for-business-professionals

Page Title: Top iPhone Applications for Business Professionals
Reddit.com Title: Top iPhone Applications for Business Professionals
Original Promo Date: December 17th, 2008
Reddit Points : 19 Total, 87 up votes, 67 down votes
Yahoo Backlinks: 62

Search Engine Rankings Updated: February 4th, 2009

Keyword Google Yahoo MSN
best iphone apps for business 1 19 9
iphone applications for business 1 4 1
top iphone business apps 1 1 1
iphone apps for business 2 24 9
top business apps for iphone 2 1 1
top business iphone apps 2 3 1
iphone apps for it professionals 2 8 11
best iphone business applications 6 5 4
iphone business applications 7 3 1
top iphone applications 12 21 8

Google Analytics Data

Time Frame: 12/16/2008 – 2/4/2009

Total Page Views: 7,117
Google Organic Views: 3,191
Google Unique Keywords: 1,514

 

Notice that we’re showing organic search traffic to a single page and not the entire site.  Wow!

The above case study is a great example of how social media marketing helps organic SEO efforts, as also illustrated in the below picture:

In our example, we did have a large traffic spike just like this picture and we also have a new, steady stream of traffic we never had before.  Pretty cool!

What have we learned?

After analyzing the keyword ranking data and Google analytics metrics here are my thoughts:

  • Social media links are effective when targeting mid to long tail keywords.  If your goal is to rank for highly competitive keywords then a more precise, anchor text controlled link building strategy is recommended to compliment your social media marketing efforts.
  • Google appears to trust social media networks as a source for quality back links and appears to transfer link equity, even if most social sites nofollow their links.  It’s also important to note that the residual back links created by other, interested webmasters, will also help rankings.
  • In most cases, social media marketing can help create a steady stream of organic traffic and fixed, longer tailed rankings (search engine rankings and organic traffic have been consistent since the 1st week of promotion). Refer to the Google analytics screenshot above for evidence on the consistency of organic traffic from Google.

For more articles related to social media please visit our social media category on the blog: category/social-media.  And of course, we offer social media services, check them out in detail here.

27 Comments

  1. gwen

    We have built a 109 promotion around social media. It started on 01/01. We review 5 social media sites a day that allow user generated content and that provide Do Follow links. Every metric has improved dramatically. The two leading the way are improved website traffic and inbound links, both are up dramatically. So yes, we are big fans of social media.

  2. Tarla Cummings

    For the case study mentioned, was any other effort put towards getting the page ranked on the first page of Reddit, or was it just content alone that did it? Did the person who posted it have a lot of subscribers to their account?

  3. Tanner Christensen

    Your closing comments (specifically about focusing on links, rather than social media for highly competitive keywords) are gold.

  4. Guillermo Bravo
    Guillermo Bravo

    The Reddit profile did not have a substantial amount of suscribers, so the profile likely had little influence on the story hitting the front page of Reddit.  The story was promoted on reddit.com using strictly twitter.com profiles and networking through instant messenger clients: Google Talk, AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger.  This story was also submitted to Stumbleupon.com simultanesouly to increase the likelyness of getting reddit votes (but was not promoted on Stumbleupon.com)

  5. Kaila S

    Just a note from one proofreader to a writer….the original promo date should probably be 2008 not 2009. Great information, btw.

  6. Mike Shannon
    Mike Shannon

    Thanks Kalia, that’s been updated

  7. Blue Dot

    Out of the four Media mentioned was one better than the other?

  8. Progress Expertise

    I think social media is one of the best ways of driving traffic to any site.. and the more traffic you get the better will be the serp results..

  9. Nick Stamoulis

    i think if you put together a link building strategy for a client and take a blended approach and incorporate all facets of online marketing you will without a doubt see good results. Now if only you and the client have the same idea of "good" is a whole new argument.

  10. Guillermo Bravo
    Guillermo Bravo

    Digg will send you the most traffic, with very low average time on site (0:01).  Reddit traffic measures are very similar to Digg, with lower overall volume.  Stumbleupon will also send a substantial amount of traffic with a much higher average time on site (1:00+).  Delicious will get you noticed by many more mashup sites in comparison to the others, but it is very difficult to hit the Delicious front page.

    It really depends on what your goal is, higher traffic volume vs. quality visitors.  In the case of branding, higher volume might the way to go.  If you want to build loyal user base with e-mail and rss suscribers then a higher quality visitor (higher time on site) would be better.

    Check this article for more information on Digg vs. Stumbleupon

  11. P@r@noid

    That’s an intresting find.. probably this is what most of the SEo expert miss all the time. Social media helps you to rank high in Search result even if you don’t get huge traffic from them. The other websites give you lots of backlinks and that again helps you a lot.. nice post…Stumbled..!!! P@r@noid http://twitter.com/shoutmeloud

  12. Jonas Goslow

    I like where you are going with this, or rather I like where my head is going after reading this.

  13. Art & Home

    Really enjoyed the article, lots of great information to consider while builing a social media strategy.

  14. SEO Company

    yaa i agree with you SMO play major roll for increasing traffic i have experience some top SMO Site, i use Stumble upon most of time and i got at least 100 visits per day and also recommended you if you want traffic SMO play major roll…. some tops sites give more out put like digg, stumble upon, twitter, if you want join me use govindseo as use find me!!!

  15. jai

    gonna include buttons in my new site http://listchennai.com now :)

  16. Ron Knight

    I personally thank the author for sharing such an awesome information with the blog readers. I am participating in Social Media activities. But, was not aware of the power of social media. This perticular article helped me a lot to enhance my social media activities and now I can think in right direction of social media promotions.

  17. Robinson

    Yes, I agree with with.. Social Media Optimization plays a vital in search engine optimization.. I am using Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Stumble Upon and get more traffic from these sites..Great Information. Thank you for Sharing.. Robinson Josh

  18. San Diego Web Designer

    I agree…the social media sites usually have high Page Rank and lots of traffic…whether networking, bookmarking, or tweeting, the trend is moving more toward social media than ever before…it’s here to stay and matter…

  19. SEO London UK

    Thanks for aggregating all best practices at one place, very valuable resource.

  20. sandy

    Hi, actually i want to know about the promotion of bookmark on social media website. I have bookmark my website http://www.b2bmedia.com on stumbleupon.com and now i want to promote it what is the way. Please help me. thanks.

  21. Facebook Developers

    I think social media is one of the best ways of driving traffic to any site..

  22. Adam

    Thanks a lot for the info, made me look at things differently in the world of seo -Adam

  23. Aditya

    it is my first visit to this blog and am impressed by the post-quality. This is a great post for new bloggers and Webmasters. I believe there is a lot more to be learned from this social media thingy. Added your blog to my Google reader. Hope to read more of such good posts in future. Cheers!

  24. Facebook Developers

    Thanks for the great tips, I plan to use some of your techniques!

  25. Hitesh Patel

    Really Great I think Twitter is west of time because you never got targeted traffic form social media but i also sometimes use twitter I agree with some Commenter and this one is really beneficial for me and my sites. Thanks for sharing

  26. Wes@ Bible Study

    Social media is likely the future of seo. Google is already using such social media sites for ranking website, and it is likely to become more and more important over time.

  27. Jessica

    We are going to start deploying this technique on our blog! thanks for the great insight.

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