Everyone knows by now how powerful social media really is to gain traffic to a website. Social Media helps to get attention from your readers and build up a better relationship with them. However, when it comes to SEO itself, how relevant it is the links you add in social network websites. Do they make any different to your SEO?
SEO is always in constant development, adapting itself to attack spammers and benefit good quality websites. Many of the SEO techniques in the past are no longer valid now and many new techniques are rising every time Google changes its algorithms.
The effects of social in SEO have always led into confusion among SEO strategists. Links from social network sites are all nofollow links and by themselves, they don't contribute much to your SEO (If it did, we would all have great SEO sites). However, there is no doubt that social media plays a big part in gaining traffic, but does it improve your ranking results on Google? That's the question many ask.
We know that Google doesn't really reveal how they rank websites and everything is a secret. However, we can still get some clues from Matt Cutts' videos/blog aswering questions from webmasters. As the head of Google's webspam team, Matt Cutts, answers many questions on his blog. I've collected some of his videos so that we can figure out what social media really means to SEO.
Social is the Key to SEO
We can learn from this video that social media is crucial to SEO because social media is a marketing tool to spread your links to a broader audience. Matt Cutts even mentions that the more spreading, the more chances that some of those who learn about your website will link to it.
However, even though social media helps SEO indirectly (as in obtaining external links), we would like to know, if social media helps SEO "directly". Does Google take into account the quantity of your links being spread in social media or how many followers you have on Twitter to measure a website's popularity?
Social Media helps SEO directly
In this video Matt does say that Google now takes into consideration social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc to check how reputable a website really is. We can now conclude that social media does impact SEO directly and that Google's algorithms are evolving to analyse data from social media.
How Google uses data from social sites
We can learn in this video that Google does use data from social media to measure one's popularity. However, one cannot think "Great! Now I will get/buy loads of followers/fans". As Matt mentions in this video, Google is aware that followers or fans can be bought in the same way that links can be bought and they will be looking for quality rather than quantity in the same way they do with backlinks.
My guess would be that Google will be looking at who is tweeting or spreading your links in social network sites: is it a famous person or a big reputable instituition such as CNN, BBC, etc? As Matt suggests Google will be looking at "WHO" rather than "how many".
To sum this up, Matt Cutts' videos and the way Google is evolving give us a hint that your SEO will benefit from popular people or reputable institutions tweeting or mentioning your links in their social network accounts in the same way it would if they were to backlink your webpages in their websites.