Do Social Bookmarks and Shares Count as Backlinks for SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) aims to improve website rankings in search engines like Google. Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors. This leads some to wonder whether social bookmarks and shares could count as backlinks. Let’s examine the SEO value of social media bookmarks.

Defining Social Bookmarks

Social Bookmark
Social Bookmark

Social bookmarking involves users saving, categorizing, and managing links to webpages using a social media platform. Popular social bookmarking sites include:

  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Pinterest
  • Flipboard
  • Delicious

Rather than using a browser-based bookmarking feature, users publicly share links on these social sites. This allows discovery by others interested in the same content.

Benefits of Social Shares

When others bookmark or share your pages on social sites, it provides these SEO advantages:

  • Increased referral traffic – Visitors follow shared links back to your site.
  • Brand exposure – Broadens awareness of your brand to new audiences.
  • Indicates popularity – Being shared widely reflects content popularity.
  • Enhanced trust signals – Shares can enhance credibility and trust.

So social shares can drive more visitors and increase branding in ways that benefit SEO. But the shares themselves are not equivalent to backlinks.

Defining Backlinks for SEO

For SEO, backlinks refer to external sites linking back to your webpage via hyperlink. Here are key attributes of SEO backlinks:

  • Publicly accessible – Available for all to see and click
  • On external pages – Reside on separate domains from your site
  • In source code – Indexed and crawled by search engines
  • Hyperlinked text/image – Clickable navigation to your page
  • Followed by bots – Crawled links that pass equity

Social shares lack critical attributes of backlinks

Because social bookmarks lack certain attributes of SEO backlinks, they do not directly influence search engine rankings:

  • Not accessible to search crawlers
  • Contain no anchor text keywords
  • Do not pass link equity authority

Why Backlinks Matter for SEO

Google uses backlinks to assess page relevance and authority. Quality backlinks boost rankings by:

  • Signaling popularity through unique linking domains
  • Passing trust and authority via high-value domains
  • Using anchor text to indicate topic relevance
  • Directly passing link equity to pages
  • Providing clickable paths to drive site traffic

Social signals like shares and bookmarks do not directly influence how search engines rank pages. The algorithm relies on quality backlinks, not social metrics.

The Role of Social Shares for Search Rankings

While social shares don’t count as backlinks, they can provide indirect SEO value:

  • Increased website traffic from followers clicking shared links. Higher traffic can indirectly improve rankings.
  • Enhanced brand signals by exposing the brand to larger audiences. Strong brand reputation gives an indirect boost.
  • Visitor retention if visitors who follow shared links stay on the site longer. Google may associate this with positive user experiences.

However, these indirect effects are relatively small. Actual backlinking practices have a much more substantial ranking impact.

Link Building
Link Building

Best Practices for Link Building

While social signals do not replace backlinks, some effective link-building approaches include:

  • Creating high-quality, valuable content that earns genuine engagement and links
  • Guest posting on industry websites and blogs to gain backlinks
  • Earning brand mentions through media coverage and PR
  • Linking internally between related site content to pass equity
  • Getting links from .edu or .gov sites
  • Building resource pages with useful tools to attract external links

The best link building focuses on creating unique, authoritative content. Paired with outreach for earned backlinks from trusted sites, this sustains long-term SEO success far more than social shares alone.

Key Takeaways

  • Social bookmarks and shares do not directly count as backlinks for SEO purposes. They lack key attributes that enable passing ranking signals.
  • While social shares do not influence rankings, they can provide indirect benefits like increased traffic and brand awareness.
  • Actual quality backlinks remain one of the strongest ranking factors for SEO. The best strategy is creating valuable content designed to earn links.

So focus on producing great content, building links, and social shares will follow. But social signals alone without real backlinks carry little SEO weight. Use social platforms to amplify content and generate traffic rather than counting shares as links.

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Shares and Backlinks

Do social media shares count as backlinks for SEO?

No, social shares are not considered backlinks by search engines. Backlinks refer specifically to one site linking to another via hyperlink and pass ranking signals like authority and trust. Social shares may drive traffic and awareness but do not directly influence SEO.

What are the benefits of social media shares?

Shares can increase referral traffic as followers click through to your site. They also raise brand visibility and exposure to new audiences. Signals of popularity and trust can indirectly benefit SEO rankings.

How are social media shares different from backlinks?

Backlinks are visible links in external page source code that search engines can crawl. Social shares are not accessible to crawlers. Backlinks use keyword anchor text while shares don’t. Most importantly, backlinks pass direct equity while shares do not.

What are some highly-valued types of backlinks?

Backlinks from high authority domains like .edu and .gov sites are ideal (Moz). Links published on authority hubs and niche sites relevant to your industry also carry weight. Getting backlinks from well-known media sites through earned press is impactful too.

What are some effective link building strategies?

Create awesome content that earns natural links and social shares (Ahrefs). Guest post on niche blogs and sites to gain new quality links. Build relationships with influencers to get backlinks from their articles. Broken link building by fixing broken links with your own content also works.

How can I earn media backlinks?

Build relationships with journalists and pitch them ideas for expert quotes or contributed articles. Distribute press releases on newsworthy content. Respond to media inquiries in your industry. If your content gets covered organically, that earns a high value editorial link.

Should I use paid links for SEO?

Google frowns on paid links and over-optimization. Focus on earning links naturally through great content. Paid links should use nofollow and be done transparently. Too many low-quality paid links may be seen as spam and get your site penalized.

What’s better for SEO – social shares or backlinks?

Quality backlinks from authoritative sites will always be most powerful for directly influencing search rankings. While social signals don’t hurt, you can’t rely on them alone. The best strategy is creating share-worthy content that also gets linked organically over time.

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