Experiments Ideas

How does social media impact SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization

…and yes, social media does affect SEO. To better understand how SEO works, let’s look at the story of Billy Joe Awesome and his Pappy’s Comb.

Pappy’s Comb

Billy Joe Awesome needs a new comb to stroke his cherished mullet. The houndstooth-patterned mullet comb that Pappy gave him was lost in what his family members now call the “Squirrel Incident”.

Hoping to replace Pappy’s comb and regain his family’s respect, Billy Joe goes to and types “houndstooth mullet comb” in the search box. Moments later, Google magically presents Billy Joe with a list of pages about houndstooth mullet combs.

Delighted, Billy Joe Awesome clicks the first link, finds the perfect comb, pays for it via PayPal, and restores his reputation as the only guy in town with a mullet sheen brought on by the expertly-milled teeth of a houndstooth mullet comb.

The End.

What can we learn from Billy Joe Awesome?

This story leaves me asking a few questions:

  1. How did Google decide which web pages would show up in the list?
  2. How did the first website get to the top of the list?
  3. Where can I get my hands on a houndstooth mullet comb?

The process of answering the first two questions is called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Let’s look at these questions one at a time.

Question 1: How does Google decide which web pages would show up in the list?

Answer: As soon as Billy Joe Awesome typed “houndstooth mullet comb” into the search box, Google went to work behind the scenes looking for pages on the internet with the phrase “houndstooth mullet comb”. The pages with the the best content and code make the list.

In other words, these pages are the most relevant to the search phrase.

Question 2: How does the first website get to the top of a search result?

Answer: After finding the most relevant pages, Google decides which page is the most important, via an instantaneous and always-evolving series of algorithmic calculations. That doesn’t mean much to Billy Joe Awesome — he just wants to know where to get his coveted comb. The importance of a page within a search engine’s system is determined by how many other relevant pages link to that page.

Question 3: Where can I get my hands on a houndstooth mullet comb?

Sadly, the houndstooth mullet comb does not yet exist. When it does I will link to it here.

Relevance and Importance

Among the hundreds of variables a search engine examines when deciding who to list at the top of a search results page, the two main things considered are Relevance and Importance.

For Billy Joe Awesome, Relevance to him means finding a website with houndstooth mullet combs similar to the one he lost. In the same way, Relevance for search engines is measured by how the content on your page (text, images, links, rich media) relates to the keywords being searched for.

While it is “important” to work the knots out of Billy Joe Awesome’s mullet before Sunday’s big family reunion, Importance within the context of SEO is measured by how many other relevant web pages give links to your page. The best links come from other important pages and contain relevant text in the middle of relevant content.

How does Social Media affect SEO?

Social Media helps build the importance of a given web page by generating organic relevant links from social networks to your website. Every time someone shares a link from your site, Google sees that as a “vote” for your website.

The more interaction between your website and social sites the more links generated, meaning your site is more likely to show up on search results pages.

Google has also started integrating Twitter into some search results, giving yet another reason to join the tweeting masses.
When creating content for your website consider these questions:

  1. How relevant is the content on your page to what a potential customer might use in a search box?
  2. How important is your page compared to your competitors’ relevant pages?
  3. Have you shared your website’s content on popular social websites?
  4. Could Billy Joe Awesome find your website if he was looking for your products or services?
  5. Should you try to corner the houndstooth mullet comb market?

Super Secret SEO knowledge

The exact formula used for deciding who shows up where in search results is only known by the search engine creators themselves. Here are some of the other known factors taken into consideration by search engines like Google when analyzing a website.

  • Is your website’s code properly written?
  • How fast does your website load?
  • How close are you to the zip code of the person searching?

All of these things, and more, can affect your performance in search results.

Mission Impossible?

Improving your website’s listing on search results pages may seem like an impossible task. However, a good Search Engine Optimizer can help you beat your competition by keeping a well-trained eye on your website’s search engine performance.

* I originally wrote this piece for SM Agency’s blog to help clients understand some of the services they offered. The blog has been retired, so I republished the article here.


10 Essential WordPress SEO Plugins

Wordpress Plugin blow the face of bystander

I shouldn’t be giving you this information. As Spider Man’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll hurt somebody. Keep that in mind if you choose to install the following plugins on your WordPress website. Make the wrong move around one of these bad boys and you’ll be peeling your face off the floor. These super-powerful plugins turn your website into search engine candy. When used properly you can boost your website’s position in search results related to your content.

WordPress SEO Plugins



  1. All In One SEO : Automatically generate search engine friendly page titles and much more. Download All In One SEO
  2. Google XML Sitemaps : Generates a XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your website. This format is supported by, Google, YAHOO and MSN Search. Download Google XML Sitemap
  3. Redirection : Allows you to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. A nice interface for those who don’t want to mess with a .htaccess file. Download Redirection
  4. SEO Friendly Images : Automatically adds ALT and TITLE text to all of your images. This helps your site conform to W3C standards and adds valuable keyword text for search engines to gobble up. Download SEO Friendly Images
  5. Global Translator : Automatically translates your website into 48 languages. Download Global Translator
  6. SEO Smart Links : Automatically build internal links on your website by linking keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog. Download SEO Smart Links
  7. W3 Total Cache WP Super Cache: Google considers the speed of your website to determine where you rank in search results. This plugin makes your website 10 times faster according to the plugin author. Download W3 Total Cache Download WP Super Cache
  8. Google Analyticator : Google Analytics right in your WordPress dashboard. Download Google Analyticator
  9. WP to Twitter : Google includes Twitter activity in search results. Automatically post new articles to your Twitter account with this plugin. Download WP To Twitter
  10. Yet Another Related Posts plugin (YARPP) : Automatically generate a list of related posts. This helps build more internal links and increase page views. Download YARPP

You’ve got some face juice on the ground there. Right… there. Yep. Got it.

What are your favorite SEO plugins?

Leave comments below.

Photo Credits

  • Original Photo
  • Photo edited by Paris Vega