What is Most Important, SEO or Social Shares?


What is the connection between SEO and Social Media?

Are articles that get a lot of social shares ranked higher on google because they have been shared so many times?

or Is it the other way around?

Are certain articles ranked higher on search engines because they are shared again and again?

What is Page Rank?
Page Rank is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results. PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages.

Perhaps it is a chicken/egg thing. Any SEO smarty would reason that someone with a large social media following would gain authority through google search because of their social media presence. Follow my logic here,  an influencer posts an awesome article. then they their followers would share it and link to it. BOOM the influencer would gain backlinks which, as we have learned, are a huge factor for SEO.

Sound thinking. Right?

But it is WRONG.

Google says straight up, “We don’t look at social shares to determine rankings.”

Crazy. Right? This can’t be for realz?

I started to dig around for some real SEO data. Because honestly so many of my clients and my potential clients spend more time trying to grow their social media following then trying to gain the attention of Google. We all only have so much time, what should we be spending our time on? Tweaking our Insta picture or writing better headlines? What will bring in more paying clients?

These are the deep burning questions that keep me up at night.

Organic Search Results SEO Clapping Dog media

BuzzSumo and Moz wondered these same questions.

They did a deep dive to figure out what the exact connection was between Social Shares and SEO.

BuzzSumo looked at over 1 million articles in their database, then they looked at the number of articles that received social shares and then they looked at the number of articles that received links.

graph likes shares

The vast majority of the articles received zero links, meaning nearly no outside website linked to another site. Zero new backlinks were formed.  75% of the articles didn’t even get shared.  

All of this to say, very very very very few articles go viral. All of the other articles get zero social love.

So, what does this mean for all of the non-viral content writers?

For you and me as content marketers who just write excellent blog posts consistently but never get shared 20K times? What do we do? Well. We need to stick to our focus and write generous, helpful articles for our audience — that are optimized for Google.

Don’t write articles with the expectation that they will go viral on social media. Because very few of them do.

If you are feeling sad. Don’t just yet. Get this.

While I was researching this article, I found a study by Chartbeat that analyzed the engagement of socially shared content. After studying thousands of viral articles they found that very, very, very few social shared articles are actually READ!


In other words, an article may be shared thousands of times on Facebook or Pinterest but is only read 50 or 60 times. EGADS!

This phenomenon is very common on social media. Friends will see that other friends have shared an article,  so they will read the headline, view the picture and share it but never actually read it!

As the author of a viral article we certainly feel awesome, but it doesn’t help our organic search efforts at all. The goal as a content marketer is to write articles that establish ourselves as a subject matter expert so that others will link back to our site. If people are just sharing and not reading the post then the post will lose it’s popularity in a matter of hours.

So after all of their researching and studying Chartbeat concluded that,

Google cares much more about the engagement than they do about the social share counts themselves.

It’s not shares, it’s engagement.

We need to think about content marketing a bit differently.  We’re looking at the wrong social metrics. We should be looking at social engagement rates rather than just the total number of social shares and other vanity metrics.

Chartbeat found that when Facebook posts had an extraordinarily high engagement rates they also tended to have above expected organic search click through rates–users clicked on the link from the search page.

The question isn’t whether social sharing causes organic search rankings or if organic search causes social shares it is about how engaging your content is!  Are your headlines enticing are the meta descriptions irresistible? Is the content filled with generous, teachable tidbits?

Take aways

The old theory that high social shares has a direct connection to organic search is wrong. It isn’t the number of shares that matter it is the engagement rate.

What can you do?

Write excellent content

Optimize your pages for search, don’t know how?

Sign Up for the Simple SEO School

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate because if the user is searching for you, they are ready to buy.

Learn how to optimize your site in just one hour. This is a proven, step by step plan that works. You will be found by your clients. They are searchin’ for you. Be found.

2017-11-07T06:29:31+00:00 SEO Challenge|0 Comments

Leave A Comment