Why Social Media Traffic Is Bad for SEO

I browse a lot of online blogging communities and noticed that those just starting out invariably invest a lot of time and effort promoting their site on social media.

Yet, the people who are much further along in their blogging journey tend to do way less off-page SEO…

If traffic from social media is as good as you think it is, why do most bloggers end up abandoning it, or at least drastically scale down their campaigns?

Read on to find out why the endless pursuit of social media clicks is doing more harm than good to your website’s progress.

Weak search intent

When you plaster your links all over social media, the chances are somebody will click on them. But do they really want to be on your site? It’s going to be a mixed bag.

The problem with this mixed bag is that key metrics like bounce rate and user engagement will head in the wrong direction. The overall quality of traffic will be watered down by those who clicked because you begged them to.

Contrast this with Google Search, whereby the algorithm works hard to rank pages that best fit the search query, so you know the people reading your content actually want to be there!

This poor matching of search intent has an impact on your ad revenue, too. RPMs are much lower for websites with majority social media traffic as users spend less time browsing the pages, which means less time serving them ads.

Copycat behavior

SEO is a tough nut to crack, to the point where many of your competitors will be willing to play a dirty game to clinch the top spots in the SERPs.

Plagiarism is rife for this very reason, and it’s a headache for both established and fledgling websites. But if your site is new and you share content on social media, the risk of content theft increases by tenfold.

Why? Because content thieves know that brand new websites take a while to get indexed. They monitor social media for links to not-yet-indexed content and publish it on their own sites in the hope it gets indexed there first.

Some people are more subtle about it and they’ll revise the content before publishing it. ChatGPT can do this for them in a matter of seconds, so the threat of copycat behaviour has gone up considerably in the wake of AI.

This is why it’s doubly important to use internal links throughout your site, as this helps to ‘bake in’ a piece of content with the rest, which instils confidence in Google that you produced it first.

Risk of sabotage

If you’re new to blogging then the chances are you are also new to website security, which exposes you to something much worse than plagerism.

Bad actors understand this correlation very well, which is why they roam social media looking for websites with vulnerabilities to exploit.

Most do this with the intention of gaining unauthorized access to your site and demand a ransom for its safe return. Some wreak havoc just for the fun of it, such as by spamming your comments section or creating toxic backlinks.

I’m not saying you should abandon social media entirely. Rather, think about who you are putting your links in front of. Promoting your content to a community of like-minded people is way safer than trying to get on an algorithmic feed.

Nofollow links

The weight given to a website’s backlink profile when search engines decide how to rank it is unknown, but most SEO experts agree that it is an important ranking factor.

If you plan on creating backlinks by sharing links on the likes of Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Links from these platforms include the “nofollow” attribute, which means they don’t endorse your website.

I also see black markets on social media for link exchanges – do NOT partake in these. Real harm can be done to your SEO if search engines catch you building a backlink profile unnaturally.

Indeed, two websites linking to each other at the same time is a great way to get smacked down with a manual penalty, especially if the content isn’t related in any way, shape or form.

Make helpful content and those links will soon come!

No traffic while you sleep

Social media is a never-ending conveyor belt of content and therefore if you stop posting, you can wave goodbye to your traffic.

This is a pretty significant point even though it’s not directly bad for SEO. It’s more an issue of time wastage, which could be better spent on activities that translate into sustainable, organic traffic from Google.

The whole point of starting and running a successful blog is to earn passive income. But promoting on social media is the complete opposite of passive. And not to mention, even if you are doing ‘work’ on these platforms, you can easily get distracted by other people’s content.

Conclusion

Promoting your website on social media will open the floodgates to untargeted traffic.

Untargeted traffic can be characterised as users who can’t find what they are looking for, opportunists who want to copy your content, or bad actors who want to inflict damage on your website, all of which are bad for SEO.

Organic traffic beats social media traffic every time – simply follow the SEO best practices as outlined by the search engines and your efforts will be rewarded.