Link building is an essential part of SEO. But with hundreds of thousands of new backlinks created on social media websites every day, does link building really matter?
If you’re interested in gaining more knowledge to base your SEO strategy on, let’s take a deeper look at social backlinking.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What link building is
- Do backlinks from social media platforms matter to SEO
- How to use them effectively to your advantage
Let’s dive in and see how this can help your business grow.
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- Link building improves how your website ranks on the SERP
- Social media backlinks aren’t a direct ranking factor
- But they can be useful in more than one way
- Your profiles can contain a link and be displayed in the SERP
- Groups can become brand advocates and spread links on the web
- Building connections with influencers builds more links
- UGC can be either repurposed or linked from
- Track unlinked mentions to get the links you deserve
- Create engaging posts to distribute content
What is Link Building?
Google’s goal as a search engine is to show users the most relevant pages for their searches. One part of figuring out what pages to show is by scanning them for keywords — this way the search engine understands what the page is about.
But there are hundreds, even thousands of pages that may be relevant for any particular search. Google determines which pages are the most trustworthy through dozens of factors, but backlinks are one of the most important ones. If other websites link to your site, it means people trust you. If a lot of people link back to you, your site is that much more trustworthy in the eyes of the search algorithm.
Link building is the process of finding opportunities for receiving a backlink from a website and acquiring them. The end goal of it is to improve your website’s backlink profile, increase its rankings on the search engine result pages, bring in more traffic, and get free leads from Google as a result.
Not all backlinks are good for you, though. A backlink from a website with a poor reputation might even hurt your website.
You can use a specialized tool like the SE Ranking backlink analysis tool to find backlink opportunities and evaluate links.
SE Ranking will show you the number of backlinks and referring domains for each website you run through it. It will also show an estimate of how trusted a page or domain is based on the links that lead to it — Domain Trust and Page Trust.
Source: SE Ranking
You can click on the backlinks in the site you analyze to see a further breakdown of the backlink quality with estimated traffic volume and more metrics. As a general rule, the higher DT, PT, and traffic on the website, the better the link.
Source: SE Ranking
Tip: You can use this report to find which sites link to your competitors and reach out to them for a backlink opportunity.
Do Social Media Links Contribute to SEO?
The thing about links from social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, or any others, is that they don’t add to a website’s authority in the eyes of search algorithms as much as links from regular websites. Most of them are non-follow by default, which means Google doesn’t fully count them as links. So they’re not a direct ranking factor, as confirmed multiple times by Google representatives.
Some experts speculate that having a large number of social media backlinks might be a slight ranking factor as it may suggest the business is being talked about. But even if that’s not true, there’s something else social backlinking can offer to your SEO strategy.
Depending on the industry, website traffic coming from social media can be as high as 18% on average.
An influx of new visitors is always good for your site. Even if it may not be a direct ranking factor, it means that more people are exposed to your content, and that may lead to more organic backlinks when your content is good.
On top of that, website traffic from social media is some of the most converting, so you’re getting two benefits at the same time.
And that’s not the end of the benefits of social media backlinks to SEO.
Unleashing the Potential of Social Backlinks to Maximize Results
Let’s explore six strategies for social backlinking that can boost your SEO.
Use Your Profiles Wisely
The easiest social backlinking you’ll ever get is from your personal or business profile. You have the option to leave a link to your website, and if a user wants to connect with you to do business or explore what you offer, they’ll go ahead and check it out. Leaving a link there also makes it super clear to Google that that social media page and site are connected.
So there’s really no reason not to have a link in the bio.
Your social media profile doesn’t just serve as the most recognizable social media backlink but can also be an SEO instrument in and of itself. Make sure to add enough branded keywords to the profile, and it’s almost guaranteed to rank high on SERP without ads for your brand name.
This is especially important if your site is new and isn’t ranking for the branded keyword just yet. A social media page might be the easiest way to reach it through the SERP if the customer doesn’t want to buy through social media.
Take Advantage of Social Media Groups
On social media like Facebook and LinkedIn, there are plenty of groups that are focused on specific topics. These are typically rather small acts, more like networking groups than anything else. If you can find those groups and share content they love, you may be surprised at how much they can help your SEO efforts and your business as a whole.
When people who frequent a group you’re a part of start trusting you, they’ll share your content across the web. They might repost it on their pages or in their private groups. They also might link to it directly from their blogs.
Even if a person doesn’t have a blog themselves and makes a repost of your content, you’re guaranteed that more people will be exposed to your content as a result. That’s why being a part of a group pays in the long term — the more exposure your content gets, the more chances of getting organic links and forming great relationships.
People from the group that trust you may also prove to be much better leads than any other source of traffic.
Build Connections With Journalists and Influencers
A person who liked your article may link to your post once. A person who knows your company, knows you personally, or has a positive connection with you will link to your content over and over again.
And social media is a much, much better way to form a relationship like that than reaching out over email or making a call. Journalists, influencers, and editors spend a lot of time online due to the nature of their work, and will be more willing to engage in conversation on social media.
But even with that in mind, they might be bombarded with promotional messages. You might reach out in direct messages and strike a conversation that leads to the showcasing of your content and finding points of growth together.
You may also start less salesy and just talk with them in the comment section or mention them in one of your posts to start a conversation about a topic both of you are interested in.
The most straightforward way of starting a meaningful relationship with them is by asking them for help. If you’re planning on writing an expert roundup post, ask journalists and influencers to give their opinion. At the very least, they’ll link back to the post they contributed to. In the best-case scenario, you’re earning a friendship that is going to grant you social media backlinks for a long time.
Leverage user-generated content (UGC)
Authenticity is the name of the game in marketing, and there’s nothing more authentic in your brand strategy than content created by users and customers. There are multiple types of UGC on social media and multiple ways to make it useful for SEO.
- Social media posts that discuss your brand can have a backlink in them, adding a no-follow link to your portfolio, and increasing exposure and direct traffic.
- Apart from social linking, users of the platform may leave a link to your content on their websites. That’s possibly the most valuable UGC you can get.
- In-depth posts, discussions, or comments around your brand and content can be repurposed into either social media or blog posts.
Tip: If you used UGC to craft a post around it, make sure to mention it’s based on UGC and credit the author. It’s the right thing to do, and it will hammer in that social proof in the post.
Track people who mentioned you
Not all mentions of your brand on social media contain a link. If you can find posts and discussions centered around your brand, don’t be afraid to ask for credit where credit is due. Reach out and offer a link to your site that would be relevant to the post. Don’t ask for a simple link to the homepage, though, especially with influencers who have a large audience — they might not be up for the idea. It’s best to add value or entertainment for the readers with your link.
Another way you can use tracking brand mentions on social media is to build relationships with the people who talk about you. In this case, the benefits are obvious — a constant source of backlinks inside and outside of the social media platform.
Use Quality Graphics and Video Content
And lastly, while you’re trying to build quality links on social media, don’t forget about the nature of these platforms. They’re inherently not suitable for extra long reads, so if you make posts based on blog articles, make sure you either shorten them quite a bit or break them up in a series of posts.
And while you do that, include visual content to boost engagement. Posts with illustrative material like GIFs or infographics will generate more leads and more links.
Source: Matthew Mace/LinkedIn
Your infographics don’t have to be very long to attract attention. A simple visualization like this will help immensely to catch users’ attention.
Source: Matt Barker/LinkedIn
You can also try to weave a bit of clever copywriting in your posts and make the first words users see seem intriguing.
So social media backlinking may not be a direct ranking factor. But despite that, social media can be a powerful tool for building backlinks that matter.
Social media helps you to build meaningful relationships with influencers and consumers who can link to you as well as distribute the content that is likely to receive backlinks. This is especially great for newer brands that may not have enough recognition to rank on Google, but know how to handle social media.
For these brands, social media backlinks can be the key to boosting their SEO performance.
Follow the tips from this article, and your brand’s link-building will benefit from social media as well.
Ashley Davis (or ‘Ash’ for short) is the CEO & Founder of Skyline Social. For over 15 years, he has been helping business owners with lead generation. Ash specializes in helping businesses get high-quality leads, appointments and clients each month in an automated, scalable and profitable way. You can watch his free Masterclass training to learn more.