Link building is an important rank factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Sites receiving many links from other websites are ranked higher in search than those with fewer referrers. Although links from social media have a ‘nofollow’ attribute, i.e., it does not contribute to the overall link count, such links are still useful. Social Media link building is an SEO hack that should be adopted as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

In this SEO tutorial, we’ll look at:

  1. Acquiring Natural Links
  2. Spam Links
  3. Acquiring Bad Links
  4. Social Media Nofollow Links
  5. Reasons for Social Media Link Building
  6. How to build links on Social Media
  7. Social Media Platforms to Optimise for Links

Acquiring Natural Links

In order for a link to be taken into consideration by search engines, links should be acquired naturally. This means that links should not be formed due to any form of payment, such as through a sponsorship or a web advertisement.

An alternative method that is gaining popularity, is by masking advertisements in the form of products or services reviews on popular blogs and websites. These methods are allowed and encouraged when they give in-depth insights of products and services. These promote their businesses and creates link opportunities.

Spam Links

Marketers adopting Black Hat Tricks in the past may create spam links in the comments section of blogs or through forum postings. However, Google has since updated its search algorithm to identify them and discredit their value.

Yet, there may still be marketers adopting these tricks. For example, marketers may use such methods to create bad links to bring down a competitor’s site. Other referral spam sites such as SEO Jokes and Uptime Beta, might link to a website, hoping that the owner will visit their web page. 

To prevent spam links in the comments section, WordPress users may use a plugin such as Disqus Comment System (the one I am using below) or WidgetPack Comment System. These plugins will add a Nofollow attribute to links in the comments section.

Acquiring Bad Links

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Not all links are created equal; links from a high authority site are worth more than links from an unknown brand’s site. Social media links are ‘neutral’ and this will be further discussed below.

Monitoring links from different sources should be done on a regular basis. Bad links or spam links as mentioned earlier, should be removed. This can be done by disavowing links with Google’s Disavow Links tool.

Social Media Nofollow Links

Social Media platforms have also taken action to prevent the proliferation of spam links on their site by including the Nofollow attribute to its links. Links with these attributes do not pass any link credit to a receiving site.

Most forums also have such a property added to user-created links to prevent spam postings in its forum.

Why build links on Social Media?

Since social media links do not contribute any link juice to a website, why then should we acquire social media links? We’ll explore these reasons below.

  1. Directs followers to website
  2. Social media pages are indexed on Search
  3. Google tracks social referrers on Analytics
  4. Shared links can be tracked with tools
  5. Quicker Website Indexing

#1 Directs followers to website

Despite the Nofollow attribute attached to social media links, building links through social media is beneficial. Links on social media directs followers to visit a particular web page. By doing so, it creates traffic on a website, contributing to SEO metrics through inbound-traffic and length-of-stay on a site.

Links on social media directs followers to visit a particular web page. By doing so, it creates traffic on a website, contributing to SEO metrics through inbound-traffic.

Actively promoting the website on social media platforms require no additional marketing fees while ensuring a site is frequently visited. Followers are regularly updated on new information being put up on a website. This is a more proactive approach and cost-effective method than paid or organic growth through search engines.

#2 Social media pages are indexed in Search

Social media pages and media files uploaded on them are indexed in Search. For example, videos on YouTube appear in the video search results page on Google. Some of these videos might appear alongside regular search results too. 

There are also instances where a well-followed Facebook page appears on page 1 of search results.

Digital Marketing and WordPress Tutorials - SEO Hack- Social Media Link Building - Youtube Videos in Search Results - Leow Hou Teng

YouTube videos on Page 1 of Google Search results

#3 Tracking Social Referrers on Google Analytics

Since Google tracks social referrers on Analytics, this might be considered as a ranking factor for Search. These results can be accessed on Analytics > Acquisition > Social. A well-visited site through social media may indicate a strong connection between the brand and her followers, hence validating a reason for good ranking.

#4 Social links can be tracked with tools

To elaborate on the point before, shared links may be tracked with free tools like Bitly or Google Link Shortener. Besides shortening links to reduce on word count, sharing links on social media can be tracked with these tools.

Shortened links tools come with inbuilt data collection, allowing marketers to track responses from different social channels. These can help them fine-tune their digital marketing strategies.

#5 Quicker Website Indexing

Website indexing is speculated to be quicker when social media accounts are pointing to a website. As a good practice, after websites are submitted to the Google Search Console for indexing, update all relevant social accounts to point to the website. For example, share blog articles on Facebook or LinkedIn, or pin images on Pinterest.

Social Media Link Building

Social media link building can be done through:

  1. Adding links to the Information / About section
  2. Sharing content from the website
  3. Share snippets of content and adding a link
  4. Reposting previously shared content
  5. Encourage followers to share content through incentives

#1 Update the Information /About Section

Start by updating the Information / About section on the social media platform to allow easy access to the website. On platforms such as YouTube, different channels may be integrated, hence enhancing the connectivity between them.

#2 Share Content from the Website

For websites with regular new content, sharing them on social media channels informs followers about the latest articles. Shared content gathers responses from readers through likes and comments, allowing businesses to craft a more targeted content strategy. Good content may also be forwarded to more people when they are shared or reblogged by readers.

#3 Sharing Snippets of Content

An alternative way is to share a snippet of a piece of content, such as an image, a quote, or a video from the article. These posts which are fairly common, are usually accompanied with a short link, such as a Bitly or Google goo.gl link. Shorten links are effective when word count is limited, such as on Twitter.

Digital Marketing and WordPress Tutorials - SEO Hack- Social Media Link Building - Sharing content with Bitly Links - Leow Hou Teng

Adding Bitly Links to Social Media content

#4 Reposting Previously Shared Content

A good practice on social media is to repost previously shared content. Postings on social media need not be exclusively for new content. Old articles that are still relevant may be just as useful for existing and new followers. These articles may be scheduled months apart at different timings as shared content may be crowd-out by other postings. By reposting content that was shared before, it will ensure traffic to a quiet section of the website.

#5 Provide Incentives to Followers to Share the Links

Tap on the potential of ‘Word-of-Mouth’ by providing incentives to followers to share a linked post to their friends and family. Incentives can come in the form of a contest or a giveaway and set a requirement to repost the link on their profiles to win the prize. Contests and giveaways may be more cost-effective in reaching out to users, as compared to paid advertisements. A contest form to input particulars and answers to quiz may be added to a website.

Another way is to provide freebies such as an eBook or a template and requiring users to share the link to download them. These shared posts with links to the website will help to build links through social media.

Case Study of Link Building on Various Social Platforms

Facebook

Facebook is a great platform to share articles since it boasts the most number of active users. By including an open graph feature image, shared posts can translate to more traffic to a website.

YouTube

Videos are an essential part of digital marketing as they are most engaging. Uploading videos on YouTube help to get them indexed in Search. The video description may be optimised with links to encourage viewers to find out more about a related topic. Links may also be added directly to a video, but excessive use may annoy viewers.

Digital Marketing and WordPress Tutorials - SEO Hack- Social Media Link Building - Youtube Videos External Link - Leow Hou Teng

Adding Links on YouTube Videos

Host videos on YouTube and embedding it on a blog post prevents additional load on the site’s bandwidth.

Twitter

As mentioned earlier, due to Twitter’s limited word count, shorten links with Bitly to allow breathing space for other text. Twitter has also recently doubled its word count, but a shortened link may be easier to read and seems more professional.

Pinterest

Images of designs, crafts, photos, and other visual works can be pinned on Pinterest. Pins taken from a website are linked back to the original site. Users often repin images that they like on their own boards. Pinterest also periodically recommends new pins to users through weekly emails.

Digital Marketing and WordPress Tutorials - SEO Hack- Social Media Link Building - Adding Links to Pinterest Pins - Leow Hou Teng

Adding links to Pinterest Pins

LinkedIn

My favourite platform to share digital marketing articles is LinkedIn. It is a place to build your professional portfolio. While shared links are limited to a person’s connections and followers, posts, where users reacted on, will appear on their activity feed, reaching out to new people.

In addition, LinkedIn allows users to write directly on its platform. These articles have a wider reach and may be featured by LinkedIn.

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Hou Teng

Hou Teng

Art Director, Digital Marketing Strategist at LeowHouTeng.com
Hou Teng is a Singaporean graphic designer, specialising in both print and web. After graduating from Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design & Media, he has worked in advertising and launched an education startup as a side project. He has also worked briefly in a renovation start-up in Shen Zhen, China. While his strengths are in branding and layout design, he is also skilled in digital imaging, web design (HTML & CSS), WordPress content management and administration, search engine optimisation, and digital marketing.
Hou Teng