Every blogger publish his/her great new blog on the blog site feels awesome. It is always a great feeling to get your content published, but it is much more exciting when people start liking it. It is important for a savvy content marketer to bring out audience to that post and to get immediate responses; they share their post on all social media profiles and share its link to each and every social platform. Your friends, followers and even influencers will also share it if they find it interesting and worth reading.
This is a very common action that every blogger and marketer perform to promote their blog or business product or service through social platforms. But they generally want to know whether these social signals also affect SEO through sharing links or blog posts, information or service details on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They want to discern whether these social channels will have a direct impact on their rankings. The answer to this question isn’t that clear. Before we discuss it further, let’s first understand what social signals are and how do they affect search engine rankings.
What Are Social Signals?
Social signals are the actions taken by the users that directly or indirectly affect search engine rankings and website traffic. Apart from this, social signals serve as:
- An Indicator of brand reputation among the target audiences
- Help search engines to decide what content is best for the users
- Give users confidence in content as it has been appreciated by the masses
- You can strengthen your social presence which could help you earn brand loyalty
These social signals play a significant role in the brand promotion and increasing brand popularity.
How Do Social Signals Affect Search Engine Rankings?
The way marketing experts used to market their business has changed drastically and it is moving from traditional cold calling to digital sharing or promotion like search engine optimization and social media marketing.
Experts also accept the fact that social media is an essential part of search engine optimization and SEO is much more than ranking high on search engines. But is Google considering these social signals in search engine rankings? Does Google use share, follower and engagement metrics from all social channels to assess the authority of an individual?
In 2014, Matt Cuts at Google stated that these social signals do not contribute anyway in affecting the website ranking.
This news came out as a shock to several marketers who were working and creating strategies assuming that shared and liked content indicated reliability. Almost four years ago, in December 2010, Danny Sullivan wrote an insightful article on social signals and their influence on search engine rankings, which was completely opposite of what Google said in 2014.
Every individual from social expert to a common man all definitely know that social media contributes the major part of most digital marketing efforts. And, it has the power to drive traffic, both through organic searches and via paid channels. Even, Matt Cutts later released a video in which he confirmed that social signals do, in fact, play a major role in organic SEO.
Many marketing crackerjacks are still trying to figure out the role of social signals in organic SEO rankings. Even multiple studies have been conducted to find out the exact correlation between the both. But it has been clear that the importance of social signals is increasing with time.
Let’s explore important elements of social signals and how they correlate not only with SEO but also with online marketing goals like increased website traffic and ROI.
How and why do social signals improve rankings?
Social signals are believed to have both direct and indirect impact on search engine rankings. If we particularly talk about direct impact, then it comes from:
- Number of Facebook shares
- Number of people liked your brand on Facebook
- Number of Twitter followers
- Number of tweets mentioned your brand name or included link to your website
- Number of people that add you to their circles in Google+
On the other hand, indirect impact comes from:
Increased Citations and Inbound Links Due To Improved Online Visibility or Brand Awareness
Generating new inbound links through powerful social media impact will help you improve your brand awareness and overall online visibility. If you are visible online or found easily, then you will be linked to, and these links are an important contributing factor in ranking.
Increased Content Visibility
There is a lot of original content that is generated on social channels. This content is not only produced by the brand itself but also through conversations, comments, and discussions among the friends or followers or connections. This increases the engagement, which makes it appears in people’s newsfeed. It cannot be denied that content remains fresh in the mind of people.
Increased Positive Reviews In Google Local, Yelp, Etc. As Your Happy Customers Simply Love You
With the increased social media presence of every brand, it serves as a company’s customer service department. In case a user has any doubt or query, they simply tweet to a company and company responds back to their tweet. In the same way, a new product gains its popularity through its Facebook page. This enhances the organic connection of the customers with the brand, increasing customer loyalty, and building customer trust, which leads to more and better review on review websites like Google Local, Yelp, etc.
Performing Proper Optimization Of Every Social Media Profile
Social media profiles have a great impact in the search engines and it can be demonstrated by searching for brand names in search engines. In search engine results, apart from companies’ websites, their social media profiles are also listed in the search results. Furthermore, people also search about brands not only in Search Engines but also on Social Media accounts. Finding any brand information or reputation is also possible through profile search on social channels. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to incorporate your social profiles in your website. Natural and Organic links to the website is another positive impact for the SEO efforts.
Increase in Domain Authority
There are several factors that affect your page rankings on search engines. One among them is quality content. If quality content is delivered through different sources, it keeps on improving page ranking. The content could be blogs, chats, images etc. When more and more genuine traffic comes to the website from social sites, then it strengthens the website domain and domain authority. Moreover, there is a possibility that Google may associate social signals as “brand signals” which they like.
Increased Time On Site, Decreased Bounce Rate and More Repeated Visitors To Your Website
If customers are familiar with a particular brand through social media interaction, then there is a possibility that these customers can be repeat visitors of a website. It will make them spend more time on your website, increasing the average “time-on-site” metric. Google measures everything from how long a visitor takes to return the search page after clicking results to the new search query put by the user. Google checks whether the site successfully gave the answer to the user or the information they were looking for.
Search Engine Result Pages
You can easily access your social media content through search engines only if you have tagged them properly. Generally, we tag a company or brand through blog posts, video content, images, etc. with certain related topics. If you are performing this regularly and consistently, then you can probably own certain hashtag. If more and more people find you through these means (blog posts, videos, hashtags), the more you will be able to control and proliferate your brand image online.
What’s the future of social signals with regard to SEO?
As the world is getting more social, even kids are being raised communicating on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. more and more consumers are spending more time on social media, which is likely to cause an increase in social signals. Consumers have started interacting with their favorite brands through the web and social media. This will definitely shorten the gap between the brands and consumers.
People trust those sites recommended personally by their friends than by search engines. Websites with strong social presence are easy to access and share, and this is easier to recommend. Search engine considers these shares, likes, and recommendations, boosting the website ranking.
Websites with strong social presences will definitely have good brand loyalty and better conversion rates, leading to more sales, brand awareness, and word-of-mouth referrals. This will definitely lead to more inbound links and positive reviews.
What steps should be taken to improve your website’s social signals?
Just like SEO, social media also has some core elements: onsite and offsite. If you really wish to see your social growth, then you need to refine both these elements. There is a further categorization.
Onsite Elements include:
- Connect buttons – Like a Facebook page, Follow on Twitter, Follow on LinkedIn, etc.
- Share buttons – Like, recommend, tweet, bookmark, etc.
- A blog
Offsite Elements include:
- Facebook page
- Guest blog posting
- LinkedIn company page
- Pinterest account
- Twitter account
- Youtube account
- Other social media platforms
Given below are a few steps to launch your social media presence:
Step 1: In order to have your social media presence, it is necessary that you should first register your business at the above mentioned social channels. Mere presence on these social platforms will create inbound links that will help your business to establish credibility.
Step 2: Another important element that you must do is set up your company blog and start blogging at least once in a week. Ideally, one should blog at least once in a day, but initially, you can start with one blog in one week. Don’t just write for the sake of blogging. Make sure whatever you write is genuine, informative and useful for the readers.
Step 3: Setting up your online content engine also important. Whether you write your blog yourself or get it written by some expert writer, this step is crucial. Writing regular content and publishing it on your domain will give your domain more opportunities to rank for related search queries or keywords. This will also help you acquire inbound links, which, in turn, boost the domain authority.
Step 4: Setting up an offline content engine is also important. You need to handle your Company Facebook page and Twitter account. Regular participation and activity on your social account are necessary to keep your business active socially. You can even hire a community manager to perform this task if you don’t have time to stay online 24/7.
Step 5: Combine both online and offline content engines. Whenever you write and publish a blog post, announce it via social channels. Also, encourage your readers to join your social channels through connect buttons that enable readers to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Don’t forget to use relevant images on your blog post so that Pinterest users can pin them.
So, it can be concluded that social signals have come a long way when it comes to seeing their impact on SEO over the last few years. In above article, we have discussed the role of social signals in organic rankings, enhancing positive reviews and many more. Several scientific studies have been performed to determine the exact correlation between each type of social signal. We are still not sure about the true impact of social signals, but we do know that social signals are increasing in importance in connection with the ranking algorithm. And it will continue to do so.
Although Google has not clearly explained in detail the impact of social signals on SEO, but it is understandable that Social Signals are an important and effective part of any brand’s entire SEO strategy. Don’t get discouraged by Matt Cutt’s comments. Instead, you should focus on building your social profiles, integrating them into your website and creating quality content that is worth sharing.
Ramp up to make the most out of your social profiles and influence your social media presence to drive more traffic and increase your website authority.