What Are Social Signals? Can they Work for SEO?

Last modified:
Owen Whitcombe

Senior SEO Specialist

When it comes to online marketing everybody wants to get ahead. This often means trying to use new technology and features in order to benefit their rankings. One such advancement comes in the form of social signals, but what exactly does this mean?

What is a Social Signal?

In its purest form, every time your link is shared, liked, retweeted or commented on, it shows that people are engaging with your content and therefore should be considered important.

When it first took off in 2010, Matt Cutts released a statement saying that these social signal DO play a role in organic SEO. Since this statement many marketers have launched research into how much social signals affect organic SEO, if they do at all.

But four years down the line, Cutts has released another video which says that social signals DO NOT affect how pages are ranked. In fact, Cutts claimed that now social media pages are crawled exactly like any other webpage on the internet and therefore likes or tweets does not affect the pages ranking.

So, what does this mean for social signals?

The Impact on SEO

What we can understand from Matt Cutt’s video is that the number of likes/ followers a Facebook/ Twitter page has will have no relation to its rankings. However, it will still consider the Page Rank and the links that have been built to those pages in the same way as any other website.

What this means is that if you have a Facebook page with 1million likes, but no links built to the page then you cannot expect it to rank in Google due to its popularity alone. However, Cutts did mention that Google are looking at a way to know when an authority has posted to a specific site, in order to give it more weight in the search engines, but this is not currently happening.

Using Social for Traffic and Brand Awareness

Just because social signals aren’t used by Google to rank, doesn’t mean that social isn’t important. In fact, social media is one of the best ways to direct relevant traffic to your website.

Over half of all marketers claim that Facebook is a crucial element to their business, helping them with their marketing campaigns and allowing them to interact with their customers. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, Facebook was responsible for over 10% of all referral traffic to publishers, with Pinterest being a surprising second.

One of the best uses for social media is promoting your brand. People are able to easily interact with your company through social media and can see what kind of experience others have had. Positive comments and reviews on Facebook or Twitter can encourage others to buy your products or services and increase your profit.

Google+ Has Its Own Rules

Despite claiming that social does not affect the way in which pages rank, Google+ authorship is quickly becoming a fast track to the front page. The more people in your circles, the greater your authority becomes – this is amplified whenever somebody in your circles searches when signed in, as your relevant posts will come up before higher ranking page.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with SEO and social then talk to Liberty Marketing today. Whether you want to launch a social campaign or just need a bit of advice in setting up your social channels then give our friendly team a call today!

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Owen Whitcombe

Senior SEO Specialist

Owen has worked in primarily Ecommerce since leaving University. Many years spent in the online sports retail arena before gaining experience in the online catering business then becoming digital marketing manager for national toy company before finding his feet in SEO. As a results driven individual Owen loves nothing more than when we can give…

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