When people ask whether social signals affect SEO, they usually want to know whether sharing links such as a blog post on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter will have a direct impact on their rankings. In truth, the answer isn’t all that clear-cut.
Back in 2014, Matt Cutts at Google stated that social signals do not affect rankings. The news came as a shock to many marketers who had been working under the assumption that shared and liked content signalled trustworthiness.
Despite this, social signals continue to play a big part in marketing strategy and driving traffic through organic listings and via paid channels. Although Google has yet to confirm that social signals impact SEO, it could just be a matter of time.
Social Links and Search Rankings
You write a blog post and share it across your social media channels. If your content is seen as valuable, it earns likes, shares and tweets which in turn increases traffic back to the original post on your website.
Although social signals are out, Matt Cutts said that Google crawls websites for data in the same way it would any other website. This means that if something occurs on Twitter or Facebook and Google are able to crawl it then they can present that in the search results.
So while the authority social media account isn’t taken into account, Google does like to see your site being talked about. Therefore it can be assumed that the links shared on social media are marked as credible backlinks and can influence the ranking of that page.
As stated above, links can be used to improve your online visibility. To leverage the potential of these links, optimise your pages to track any traffic coming from social channels. Don’t forget to optimise your profiles and biographies with links back to your website.
Social profiles may not affect your site’s SERPs positioning but your social profiles can influence the content of your search results.
For example, if you search for a company name, you may find that their social profiles may show fairly high up in the results, with the Google+ profile showing up in the right-hand sidebar at the top of the page.
Developing a social media presence can be a large contributing factor to building brand awareness, trust and authority as well as generating links back to your website.
Sites like Reddit are steadily gaining impact when it comes to SERPS so tap into these valuable resources. Create share-worthy content, such as infographics, blog posts or videos.
Bolster your SEO efforts by remaining active and engaged with your social media channels by commenting on posts and industry forums.
Google doesn’t currently factor in social signals into SERPS because they can’t accurately measure how authoritative that individual or company is on social media. It doesn’t mean that Google places no value these signals. In fact, in 2013 Matt Cutts stated that social signals are “long term play”.
Marketers will benefit from thinking about the end-game so now is a good time to put your content to work.