If you’re looking for a quick simple answer then then no, Social Media doesn’t affect SEO–Google doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook social signals to rank pages. However, every link that’s created, retweeted, or shared somewhere on social media does do get your something. A nofollow link. Aside from the immediate backlink factors, there’s a bunch of other things that social media can do for SEO.
Despite the bold statement from Google, Moz’s Search ranking factors study from 2013 shows that there at least seems to be some correlation between social factors and ranking.
Well arguably yes, even though for the most part, no-follow links “don’t carry any value” because they stop search engines from crawling to the linked site, they still diversify your backlink portfolio, and rumour has it they’re still indexed.
Aside from the no-follow links, if you write good content, social media can get your content in front of a lot of people. In Q4 of 2014, social media drove 31.24% of overall of traffic to sites. And what does more traffic mean? More potential readers, more potential website owners, more potential links or citations leading to your content.
CTR as a BIG ranking factor
Additionally, one of the major search engine ranking factors is CTR. The amount of people that click on your site when they see it in the search results.
Aside from crafting a beautiful meta description and title for your result, the best way to increase CTR is to increase brand awareness. But why is this?
Well, the “mere exposure effect” researched by R. Zajonc summarized that “mere repeated exposure of an individual to a stimulus object enhances his or her attitude toward it”. When using this idea in conjunction social media and SEO, one could utilise the wide reach social media offers to increase a person propensity to click on your link in the search results.
As people click on your link more, your CTR rate increases, and thus Google deems your content to be more relevant to the query they’ve searched. And you rank higher.
So we’ve gone through how social media can build you a bunch of no-follow links, diversify your backlink portfolio, lead to more potential do-follow links through citations, and also how you can exploit the mere exposure effect to increase CTR, and finally to rank yourself higher on the search engines.