Social Signals and Their Benefits for SEO
If you really like a post, meme, or article on Facebook, you share it… right?
Did you know that all this retweeting, liking, and pinning could help a website rank higher in search results? These interactions are called social signals, and they are starting to play a meaningful role in the categorization of content across search engines such as Google.
Here’s our guide to social signals and how to get and use them to your advantage for SEO!
Social Signals Explained
Simply put, social signals are the likes, retweets, shares and overall visibility of a web page across all social media platforms. This also includes social communities like Reddit, Quora, Mashable, etc.
The interactions that people have with social media content that links back to a website can influence where it will show up on Google SERPs (search engine result pages). The way they affect rankings is mostly indirectly, however we’ll go more into this later.
Social signals have become more important as of late for those interested in SEO and ranking websites. They are changing the way we look at search engines and what it takes to make it into the top positions.
Social signals are a great marketing strategy in getting more organic traffic, social backlinks, and better search results on any search engine.
Do Social Signals Help SEO?
The short answer is yes.
A couple of years ago, various search engines didn’t look at social signals as a ranking factor. Since then, social media channels have grown and have become a bigger part of daily life causing everyone to share media in higher volumes.
While Google states that social signals do not help with ranking in search results, there is evidence that it does hold ranking signals in high regard and does in fact include them when determining a page’s rankings.
The top two factors that Google looks at are content and links. If you have stellar, invaluable content and links pointing to your site, chances are the site will rank higher. Social signals are basically backlinks that comes from social media that have potentially had other interactions (likes, etc).
Social signals also are very natural for websites to get that are actually generating buzz and being talked about online. Using social signals for your SEO is a good way to help blend in and appear natural.
While social signals are not supposed to directly affect rankings, they do affect other ranking factors that can affect the search results directly.
All this sharing (retweets, likes, votes, pins, views) of your website on social media play a role in getting more visibility of the web page. This visibility leads to increased traffic to the page that’s been shared as well as the possibility of generating other backlinks from non-social-media sites.
Every time a user shares web URL, it can indirectly affect its SEO which can lead to better search results.
Google is not the only search engine out there, either. Sites such as Yahoo and Bing specifically look at social metrics and signals from websites to get content better results. These sites may be smaller than Google, but it’s still worth noting how they operate and role of SEO in social media.
Other Benefits of Social Signals
Better understanding of your audience – What do they like or dislike? What content that your reader is sharing? Why was your content retweeted? Why was there no engagement?
Gauge Popularity – Social media communities like Reddit, Quora, and Facebook groups are a good way to see what topics are popular. These signals are also a great way to scan analytics. Instagram has an insights feature where you can check how many impressions were made, likes, saves, and shares.
Trust and Expertise – Social signals let search engines know the authority, command, or expertise your website has in its niche by being talked about and engaged with. It’s only natural for popular websites to be talked about on social media if they are being talked about elsewhere on the internet.
Larger Audience – You can reach a much larger audience that you might not have had access to from just your website’s organic rankings on Google. Social media sites are a great way of getting free press by sharing engaging content.
Traffic and Backlinks – Like mentioned above, getting shared and talked about on social media will increase traffic to your website as well as the possibility of a reader deciding to link to you from their website or blog. These backlinks are regarded more highly than social media backlinks on Google.
SEO for Social Media – Social signals are basically SEO for social media in that they more signals they get from within that platform, the more popular they become.
Backlink Diversity – link diversity is the concept of having a variety of different types of backlinks and signals from different sources. This helps you appear natural alongside your other SEO efforts.
How to Get Social Signals
Many companies are now employing social media marketing plans of action as well as SEO.
Creating social signals is as simple as sharing a link to your content across various social media channels. This initial posting along with subsequent interactions are viewed as social signals.
Here are a couple of ways to increase your social signals:
- Post, Post, Post – Keeping content fresh will get your content more views and shares.
- Know your audience – Create valuable content that aligns with their needs and interests.
- Add social icons to web pages – they add credibility as well as an easy way for users to share your content (and thus earn social signals) on social media.
- Use great images (or any media) – This can influence shares, likes, and retweets.
- Call to action – ask your readers to share if they found the content helpful.
- Contests and giveaways – a great way to gain followers, share media, and visibility.
- Add your social icons to your email signature – it may give access to a new audience.
- Start a newsletter – include a link or URL to gain more consumers, readers, or clients .
- Collaborations – a great way to gain backlinks a new audience.
- Ask your friends and family – ask them to share or interact with content that you have created. Make it as easy for them as possible, but don’t be that super annoying Facebook friend.
- Buy social signals – There are plenty of providers out there, and they are extremely cheap.
That should be more than enough to get you going.
Social Signals Wrap-Up
Social signals are the gift that keep on giving. Apart from their many benefits for SEO (direct and indirect), social media is a great way to get your content out into the world and to the millions of people using these channels.
Matt Cutts, who formerly worked on Google’s SEO search quality team, claimed that social signals don’t matter to Google. “An awesome piece of content doesn’t rank well because it has a lot of Facebook likes,” Cutts remarked.
But there is ample evidence that this is simply not true as well as the fact that things could change in the years to come. It might not be too long before these social metrics from sites like Facebook are an official ranking factor on all search sites, Google included.
Social signals have come a long way, and they could change the way we look at search engine optimization in the future due to social media’s growing importance and influence on our daily lives. It would only make sense for search engines to pay them more attention!
If you have any comments or questions, leave them below.
Contributing Author: Leticia Segura
Chris Tzitzis is an SEO and a Co-Founder of SirLinksalot.co. He has extensive experience with Affiliate SEO and running an SEO Agency.
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