Here's the scenario:
You land on someones website - they might have a service that you're looking for, or a product that interests you and it's the first time you have been on their website...
You're on their home page and you scroll down the page and get to know their business, what they offer, what they're about etc, and as you scroll to the bottom of the page you see their Instagram feed with pretty pictures...
You click on it, and your browser opens their instagram page on the same tab you were using, not on a separate tab...
You find yourself on Instagram and oh look, my friend posted on her Stories. Oh look, a cool reel popped up. Oh that's right, I need to post something today before I forget, I better now open Canva and create a post, and whilst I'm at it I better check some trending audio for my post...
See what happened there? You drove your next client/customer/website conversion away from your website and over to the never-ending doom scrolling world of social media, where all the shiny objects live and your missed opportunities go to die.
Sure, having your instagram feed on your website might help make the site look prettier, if your images and content are pretty and your target clients/customers like pretty, but pretty can come at a cost of a lost sale/s.
You know how you pour hours and hours over crafting a top-notch social media strategy, email marketing strategy, or put your money into paid ads, to drive more people to your website to buy your thing? Why would you then make it so easy for them to click away from your website and into the social media abyss?
Here's why having social media icons/feeds on your website that make users click away from your website is bad for your SEO
1. It can create a bad user-experience and increase bounce rate
When visitors click on a social media icon that opens a new tab, they can easily return to your website by closing that tab. However, when the icon opens directly over your site, users might find it less intuitive to navigate back.
If visitors feel disoriented or frustrated, they're more likely to bounce away from your site quickly, contributing to a higher bounce rate.
Search engines take bounce rate into account when evaluating the quality and relevance of a webpage. A high bounce rate may signal to search engines that your site doesn't meet users' expectations, potentially affecting your SEO rankings.
2. They create a lost opportunities for engagement
Social media icons are meant to encourage social sharing and interaction - if clicking on an icon takes users away from your website entirely, you miss an opportunity to keep them engaged with your content.
Google considers how people interact and engage with your content, such as how much time you spend on pages, what you click on, what you don't click on, etc. And this is taken into consideration when they crawl and index your website. So if they notice that people aren't engaging or interacting with your content, they may consider you content to not be valuable or of interest to your users.
Which leads me to...
3. Crawlability and Indexing
Search engine bots need to crawl and index your website to understand its content and rank it appropriately. If social media icons or feeds hinder the crawling process or if they are perceived as intrusive elements, it might impact how search engines perceive and index your pages.
4. Page load & speed concerns
Social media icons that open over your website could potentially impact page load speed. If the social media plugins are not optimized or if they require additional resources to load, it can contribute to slower page speeds.
Search engines favour fast-loading websites, and slower load times can negatively influence SEO.
So what's best practise when it comes to having social media links on your website?
I suggest just having the icons in the footer of your website that don't take up much space, but are still visible enough, and when clicked, they open on separate tabs rather than over the top of your website.
And make sure they link to the correct pages/accounts!