Social media and SEO are intimately linked, and by now most everyone knows that having a strong presence across social networks is vital to increasing your reach. People spend nearly 30% of their time on social networking sites, a sign that they use them for far more than just chatting with friends. 53% of people recommend products or businesses on Twitter, and the average consumer mentions brands 90 times a week with their social circle.

But with all of the information out there regarding social and SEO, it’s hard to know how to do it right. There is a lot of misinformation, and a lot of hidden things that the average business owner is not aware of. Here are 3 secrets about social media and SEO that you didn’t know, and how they affect your bottom line.

Social media doesn’t directly influence your rank

Social is important for your search engine optimization, but what you probably didn’t know is that your accounts don’t directly affect your ranking. Social and SEO is more like fighting a proxy war. It has the power to drive traffic and sell products – 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy products of brands that they follow – but Google has admitted social signals are not an active part of their ranking algorithm. The real benefits are:

  • Driving traffic – social media still drove 31% of visits to sites in 2014
  • Links – natural links will always be valuable to SEO. Link signals make up 20% of search rankings.
  • Authority – the jury is still on out on just how much authority matters, but many ranking studies have found them to be valuable.

Your profile itself can actually rank

Although your accounts and profiles might not directly increase your website’s ranking, the accounts themselves can actually rank on the search engine results page. Google Coca-Cola and you will see their Facebook profile front and center. The value of having search engine access to your social page is impossible to quantify. Not only will it directly drive traffic and engagement, it will increase the perception of the dominance of your brand in that market.

People use social to buy

Most people think that social is something we use just to post the most mundane events of our daily lives or try to make people jealous about the awesome vacation we just took to Bali (we certainly do that), but it is actually something that people use to buy, whether directly or indirectly.

  • 50% of Facebook users said they’ve made a purchase based on a social recommendation
  • 71% of users said that they would make a purchase based off a recommendation
  • 74% of consumers rely on social media to make a buying decision

The power of social media to shape our perceptions of brands and products is without a doubt the real reason why it is so important for your business. Social engagement, reputation, and advertising help improve your traffic flow and brand awareness, and also help to drive sales. These 3 secrets about social media and SEO show that it is more vital than ever for a business, even if it doesn’t directly boost your ranking.