Does Social Media Affect My Website’s Rankings?

For businesses looking to promote their products or services online in a cost-effective manner, social media can be an incredibly powerful tool. However, you may be wondering if there are any benefits to social media that go beyond the increases in website traffic and customer engagement. You may be asking “does social media affect my SEO?”

Let’s explore how social media can impact your website’s rankings, and how networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can indirectly improve your SEO.

Links from social media are nofollow

First of all, it’s important to realize that the links to your website from posts made on social media networks are nofollow links — that is, they have a special HTML tag automatically assigned to them that keeps them from having any “weight.”

Normally, when one website links to another, that site is effectively telling search engines “I trust and endorse the website I’m linking.” But a nofollow link — which tells search engine spiders not to follow the link, or associate the two websites — says “I see value in linking this website, but I don’t necessarily endorse the content here.”

Social media websites nofollow their links for that reason. Since they don’t know what their users will be linking, they can’t endorse the content. They also do this because their page and domain authorities are so high that they would essentially be casting extremely powerful “votes” each time they linked to other websites, which could have a disastrous effect on search engine results. (Imagine how easily you could manipulate your rankings by simply spamming your homepage link on Twitter over and over!)

Social media activity has no direct impact on your rankings

Because social media links are nofollow, this means the links people share to your content or website can’t directly impact how well you rank in search engines.

However, Moz’s 2013 Search Engine Rankings Factors Survey & Correlation study showed Facebook and Google+ activity had a strong correlation with high page ranking:

social-factors

This doesn’t necessarily mean that sharing your content on Facebook and achieving a high number of +1s on Google+ will result in your content being ranked higher. However, this does show correlation between pages that have a high amount of activity on these two networks and pages with higher rankings. One didn’t necessarily cause the other, but they do go together.

What does this mean? What we know for certain is that social media activity can have an indirect impact on your website rankings and SEO. Here’s how.

Social media shares can lead to followed links

When you share your content on social media, you’re attempting to amplify it to a wider audience. Your goal may simply be to make your followers aware of something important on your site that you want them to read, or you may be advertising a brand new product or service. Either way, you’re trying to create awareness of something you have done.

Occasionally, when you share something on social media, someone may see it, look at it, and later link to it from their own website. This link will most likely be followed — that is, it will tell Google that they endorse you, and will cast a “vote” for your site that impacts your rankings.

It’s in this way that nofollow links on social media can turn into followed links from other websites. All you have to do is be in the right place at the right time.

Website engagement from social media links can impact ranking

If someone visits your website from a link and leaves after five seconds, it’s obvious they didn’t get what they wanted. But if someone visits your website from that same link and sticks around for five minutes, they probably felt pretty good about your content.

Think about this activity on a larger scale. Google does this all the time. If a very large majority of the people who visit your site leave immediately — that is, if your website’s bounce rate is very high — your rankings may suffer. Google uses the engagement metrics from users to determine how well you should rank, and that’s because it doesn’t want sites that most people dislike to dominate the search engine results.

The same applies to links shared on social media. If your content is shared on social media, and thousands of people “bounce” from it right away, your rankings may suffer. But if your engagement is high, you could actually see improvement. The same applies for links you share elsewhere, like on other websites.

More engagement = higher potential for SEO impact

To explain this as simply as possible, the more people you engage with on social media, the better your chances are for having something happen that impacts your search engine rankings.

The biggest possibility here, as explained above, is followed links. However, engagement from your followers or fans could also lead to you getting an idea for a new piece of content that ranks #1 and improves your entire site’s SEO as a result.

So while social media doesn’t directly impact how well you rank, we always recommend staying active on social media networks, and increasing the number of mentions and interactions you have, because there are enormous benefits. In the long run, social media can have an incredible indirect impact on your SEO, and it’s for that reason that we include it in our website grader tool.

Have any questions about social media, search engine optimization, or how to interpret your report? Feel free to reach out to us at any time and let us know!

How Do Meta Descriptions Help My Website?

If you were confused by the meta description portion of your website grader report, be confused no more! On this page you’ll learn everything you need to know about meta descriptions, including how you can use them to better educate your website visitors about the content contained in the pages of your site.

What is a meta description?

A meta description is a tag that is set in the HTML (or code) for each specific page on your website. If you are looking at your website’s HTML, it will probably look something like this:

<head>
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description for my webpage!”>
</head>

A meta description is designed to give people who have found your page through a search a small preview of what that page contains. The description can be set manually by editing the HTML above (replacing the portion in quotes after “content”), which is considered a best practice as far as SEO is concerned.

If a meta description is not manually set for a page, Google will usually try to pick one itself. Typically the meta description selected will come from the first few sentences of the article or page in question, or whatever Google thinks is most relevant to the user’s query.

How do meta descriptions help website visitors?

The meta description of a page or piece of content on your website is meant to help searchers determine whether or not your content will give them the answer they’re looking for. So by writing a manual meta description for each page on your website, you have an opportunity to tell searchers that that page contains, and perhaps whether or not it can supply that answer.

Meta descriptions that contain keywords also tell searchers that the results are relevant to their search. So if you are targeting the phrase “apples” with a page on your site, and this keyword already appears in your title tag, H1, and body copy, you should also put “apples” somewhere in your meta description. This will reaffirm that your page has something to do with apples. If the keyword doesn’t appear, the user may be confused or assume your site has nothing to do with their query.

Do meta descriptions have any impact on ranking?

Meta descriptions do not directly impact your website’s ranking in searches. What this means is that putting your targeted keywords in a page’s meta description won’t help you rank any higher for that keyword, as it might if you put that same keyword in a page’s title, H1 tag, or body copy. Google announced in 2009 that their ranking algorithms did not include meta descriptions, and this has not changed.

However, meta descriptions can indirectly impact your ranking, because they can lead to more people coming to your website who read your meta description and are interested in the content of your page. If your meta description is for some reason misleading, these visitors may quickly leave your site, or bounce — and the higher your bounce rate, the worse you’ll rank for your targeted keywords. This is how a poor meta description can have an indirect impact on your SEO.

How can I write strong meta descriptions?

The first thing to be aware of is that there is a character limit on meta descriptions. This limit is roughly 155-160 characters. If your description is longer, Google will truncate it.

Secondly, make sure that the meta description you write for each page is unique. Even if search engines don’t use these descriptions to determine how well you rank for a keyword, they do prefer each page of a website to have different text associated with it. So the best way to signify to both users and search engines that you have a wide variety of pages is to write a variety of meta descriptions.

To write a strong meta description, try putting yourself in the shoes of the person you think will be searching for the page you are working on. For example, if you are writing a page to answer the question “how do widgets work?” your meta description might be something like “wondering how widgets work? This page will tell you the answer!”

Your meta description should be a good mix of content that is in plain, easy to comprehend English and compelling ad copy that makes visitors want to click and learn more. Since you only have a limited amount of space, you will have to keep things simple, but you should also try to make searchers curious, excited, and interested.

Hopefully this page gave you some helpful tips on how setting manual meta descriptions can improve your website! If you still have questions about the topic of meta descriptions, or need any help deciphering the results of your report, feel free to contact us at any time. We’d be happy to lend a hand!

Why is Anchor Text in Links So Important?

One of the factors on your report was the amount of links containing anchor text. If you don’t have a lot of these links, you may be wondering what anchor text is, and what makes it so important.

Let’s take a closer look at anchor text, and why it matters from both a user perspective and for SEO. We’ll also discuss some ways that you can acquire anchor text-rich links, which can help you improve your rankings and website authority.

What is anchor text?

Take a look at this link: click here!

In the case of the link above, “click here” is the anchor text. Anchor text is the text that makes up a link – basically, the text that is usually underlined and colored blue, on most websites, to signify that there’s a link in the middle of the content you’re reading.

Why is it called anchor text? Great question! In HTML (the code used to create webpages), a link has two “anchors” at each end, signified with an <a> symbol. That’s why the text between them is called “anchor text.”

Why is anchor text important to website visitors?

Anchor text in links tells visitors browsing through websites, pages, and pieces of content what links are, and what the destination pages (should) contain.

Anchor text like “click here” doesn’t really tell a visitor what that link leads to. It could lead to anything! But anchor text like “click here to read an article about the importance of anchor text” is highly specific, and tells you exactly what to expect when you click.

How does anchor text impact SEO?

As you may already know, the number of high quality links you have pointing to your website can have a big impact on its appearance in search engines. But the mere presence of these links on other websites isn’t all that impacts your ranking in search. Anchor text can affect it, too.

Anchor text doesn’t just give website visitors context – it gives search engines context, too. Basically, if someone links to your website using specific anchor text, they are voting for your website to rank for that anchor text.

Let’s say you were going to add a link to our website from yours. There are a couple ways you might do this:

  • A cool tool I found
  • A free website grader
  • Grade My Website
  • com

All four of these ways are basically casting a vote with Google (and other search engines), saying “this website should rank for this text.”

What do you think would happen if a hundred websites linked to us with the text “A free website grader”? That’s right: we’d probably rank #1 for that phrase!

Anchor text and link building

However, you should be cautious when trying to build links to your website that all have strong anchor text related to the keywords you want to rank for, or even for the name of your business. As search engines involve and their algorithms become more advanced, they’re able to pick up on unnatural behavior more easily.

If you acquire a lot of links, and they all contain the same anchor text, your site may start to look suspicious. Also, if those links didn’t come from very high quality websites, this could result in some penalties being applied to your site that actually hurt your ranking instead of helping it.

Google wants to see natural links with natural anchor text. When people link webpages naturally, they tend to do a mixture of the four examples we listed above. So when you are acquiring links, you should also aim for a healthy mixture – otherwise, you may run into problems.

We hope this page has helped you get a better idea of what anchor text and why it is important for both users and SEO! Have any more questions about anchor text, search engine optimization, or the report you received from us? Feel free to reach out to us at any time!

What Should I Do With My Grade My Website Results?

Now that you’ve run your site through our website grader, you may be wondering what to do with the results. Where do you go from here? What’s the first thing you should address?

Rather than set you loose with no guidance, here are a few suggestions that we hope will help you make the most of your results. This advice will give you the ability to use your results to improve your website and strengthen your presence online.

Don’t panic.

If your score is low, or there are plenty of “fair” or “poor” marks on your report, your first reaction may be to panic a little bit. How are you ever going to fix all these issues? Where did these problems come from? How did you not know about them before now?

It’s important to realize right away that no website is perfect. Every site has room for improvement, even the ones that have been around for over a decade, have thousands of daily visitors, and make millions of dollars each year. Getting a score of 100 in the grader is actually really difficult!

So before you start panicking or tearing apart the back-end of your website trying to fix problems, take a few minutes to breathe. When you look over your report again, you may realize that it isn’t that bad. There are probably some good scores on your report, too, so don’t focus only on the negative! After all, a good foundation is the hardest part of building anything, whether it’s a house, business, or website, and you probably have that out of the way.

Identify the areas that need the most improvement.

Now that you’re looking at your results with a level head, try to find the areas of your website that need your attention the most. These will be the elements scored the lowest, with a fair or poor diagnosis.

If your website is relatively new, you may find that many areas are scored this way. To better narrow down your choices, read the suggestions and comments in detail. For example, if your meta description comments are mostly positive, but your title tag comments are mostly critical, this is how you can break the tie and shift your focus to title tags first.

Learn why your scores are low, and how you can improve them.

With each report we generate, the Suggestions and Comments section offers remarks as to why we gave you the grade, diagnosis, and scores we did. You can read these comments to learn why your score may be low for a particular item.

Once you’ve gotten a good grasp on why a particular area was scored the way it was, you can start learning ways to improve it. The best place to start is our Resources section, where we offer advice on the specific areas on your report, including traffic, links, keywords, site speed, and more. You can also read articles online to get a better understanding of that particular subject, or ask the Internet marketing company you are working with (if you’re already working with one) for help.

Work with your team to create an improvement plan.

Set some time aside to meet with the team involved with the day-to-day operations of your website. Give them a copy of the report, and tell them what you learned about how you can improve the weak areas of your website.

Together, you and your team should be able to come up with a plan to improve your website and raise your scores in the areas where you are the weakest. This plan should identify who is responsible, what each person will be doing, how it will contribute to the improvement, and when it will be done.

Set a time to regroup and run a new report.

Finally, after the improvement plan has concluded, you’ll want to designate a time to regroup and go over everything that has been done to make your website better. Once everything is finished, you can come back to our site and run a new report. (You can run as many reports as you want to – the tool is free!)

In most cases, your new report should reflect the work you have done. However, for some improvements, your changes may not show up immediately. You may want to wait about 30 days after completing any work before returning to our site to run a new report, just to be sure all of your work is accounted for.

Once these initial changes are done and you’ve seen improvements on your report, you can repeat the process again with areas that scored “fair” or “good.” Keep the process going until your score is as high as you can get it!

Hopefully these suggestions have given you a better idea as to what should be done with your Grade My Website report. By spending some time to identify the areas in need of the most improvement, learning how to achieve the results you want, and working with your team to develop a plan, you’ll be able to get your website’s SEO in the best shape it’s ever been.

Have any questions about your report? Feel free to contact us for help!