How social signals really affect your search rankings

Everyone is talking about the word ‘social signals’. They use it in an off handed manner in order to try to impress without a real clear understanding of what they really are and how they truly affect your SEO Google rankings. In order to understand how social media and social media signals have an impact on your rankings, I thought I would write the following to help dispel a few myths and enlighten my readers as to the real impact of social media on your SEO.

One of the many questions I get asked by potential customers I meet is: ‘if I am active on social media will it help with my SEO?” For a long time I have been pushing social media to help with SEO and I am committed devotee of businesses actively engaging their market in this space as part of their digital marketing strategies. My theory has been that since there is no conclusive evidence either way in how Google perceives social media activity, then you might as well be doing it. Essentially, any type of exposure for your business, including the social media space is a positive exercise. Logical isn’t it. I mean no one knows exactly what really pushes authority. We can only go by what we think works and implement a strategy based on our findings and outcomes.

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The premise behind most of what we do is to implement our SEO in the most organic fashion and this is also the case with any type of social media activity we do on behalf of our clients. Like ‘spammy’ over optimised link building; social media activity must be approached in a measured, methodical manner. Too many posts and activity in this area in the hope of manipulating rankings is not going to work.

For those people wanting real answers to the way social media activity has a bearing on a websites authority, read on.

But let me make one point absolutely clear. If you think that by having millions of likes on Facebook and thousands of followers on Instagram are going to somehow miraculously get you to page 1 of Google, think again. If only it were that easy everyone would be doing it. It’s simply not that easy. Access to better rankings by mere tweets, posts and likes will not fool Google’s far too sophisticated algorithm.

Social shares are a good thing

Let’s say you post an article and it is that good that it get’s shared. People like what they are reading and they pass it on. This article will also have people linking to it and by the very nature of this effect, this article should gain popularity in the search results. Logic being, it has interest therefore it should rank. This is the power of social media in terms of SEO. Having said that I have written articles on some of my blogs and they have ranked instantly ( within 24 hours) and I’m sure that there has not been too much social media buzz around them. This is the funny part about social media. It can and cannot assist in SEO. I guess the jury is still out with this one.

Followers, likes and website popularity 

There is absolutely zero direct correlation between the number of social media followers you have on Facebook and your potential SEO ranking. If it were that easy all I would do is pay people to get likes and followers for me. This shoots that theory down in flames. As said before Google is way too smart for simple tricks like this.

But there is a way around this and this is the way that social media can affect SEO. That is, if people link to your website because the content is that good and they like the site so much then these are considered in bound natural links and this is great for your SEO ranking. Again, this may be for certain articles or parts of your website and not for others. I have seen businesses spend a fortune boosting posts on Facebook and getting heaps of likes and followers but still their organic SEO ranking is no where.

Quality over quantity

Make sure the people who like and follow you are legitimate. No point in having 5 000 fake followers who have absolutely no relationship with your website. In fact, Google may frown upon this by noting that most of your audience is not even in your country. Australian websites should have Aussie followers. Falling outside this parameter may trigger a spam issue with Google and this in turn could harm your rankings. The golden rule here is to act organically and never try to manipulate rankings with fraudulent social media activity.

Other benefits of social media

Let’s be very real here. The aim of any business is profit and the only way to generate this is to get traffic. Whether it’s through an SEO campaign or via your social media activity, it doesn’t matter. This important thing to note here is the number of site visitors you get and what they do once they land on your website. Ideally, you want them to engage with the site and buy from you. This is where the power of social media combined with SEO become a very potent mix.

It’s a competitive space in the digital environment and you have to cover all bases and do everything you possibly can to get as many eyeballs on your site as possible. So whilst I am not going to say with 100% certainty that social media activity improves your SEO rankings, what I will say is that the more visible your brand is in this space the higher the chances of making that sale.

For this reason only ( and putting anything to do with SEO aside) you should be active on all social platforms. So, whilst SEO is awesome for lead generation so is social media marketing.

I want to make a point here. I have noticed that the more reviews you get on Google maps for your business the more likely you are to appear form the maps listing. I do see reviews being posted and then all of a sudden the website appear in maps out of no where. This may last a day, a week or even a month. This is random but no one can guess with accuracy when it will appear. This is the beauty of Google – they hold their cards very close to their chest.

In summation, do your social media and do it organically and you can only win!