How Social Icons on Your Website Can Help or Hurt You

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Scott Baradell

Placing social media icons on your website can be a double-edged sword.

Used well, these icons signal to both visitors and Google that your site is legit, while helping to increase social engagement for your brand. Used poorly, and they can hurt you more than they help.

Social media icons are a valuable trust signal. Here a five facts and tips about social icons as you look to include them in your website experience:

  1. Google likes them. The SEO software company Moz considers them important for search authority; in fact, their research shows that a lack of links from your website to a LinkedIn company page are an indicator to Google that your site might be spammy. Icon links to established social pages suggest trustworthiness.
  2. People like them, too -- if they actually go somewhere. Social icons are a good thing for human visitors to see -- as long as there's something on the other end of those links. If a visitor comes across your site's social icons and decides to click on the Twitter icon, but ends up at a page where all they find is the default "egg" profile image and a couple random tweets, it's better for you not to have icons at all.
  3. Placement is everything. It's important to know where to put your icons on your site. Studies have shown that one of the worst places to put icons is on an ecommerce payment page; it can distract potential buyers and reduce conversions by 10 percent or more. Better to put the icons on your blog sidebar and your website's header, footer and/or contact page.
  4. Choose the right icon use for you. Icons can be used for different purposes on your website. They can be placed at the end or even in the middle of a blog post to encourage visitors to share your content on their own social accounts. Or they can be placed alongside your business contact information so people can easily find your company's other outposts on the web.
  5. Be sure to follow the rules. Social media icons are registered trademarks, which means they have copyright protection. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and other social sites have specific rules to follow on coloring, spacing and usage of their icons on websites. Buffer's blog directs you to more than 50 social media icon sites.

Social icons will never make your brand iconic -- you have to do that. But they can make it seem more trustworthy to visitors and to Google.

 

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