Social Signals and How They Relate to SEO

Social signals have been a much-speculated factor in modern SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics since 2012. Social signals are how search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing help regularly rank websites based on influence from social media traffic. This article will help to explain their true value and how they can play a vital role in your overall online marketing strategy.

Do Social Signals Really Help?

The simple answer is YES! YES! YES! Social signals alert Google as well as other search engines to the amount of traffic and qualified visitors from a social network back to a website/blog and vice versa. This traffic and “signaling” shows Google a more diverse audience as well as multiple forms of effective marketing efforts for the brand and company. When it comes down to it, Google wants to make sure that they are sending the right people to the right websites. A brand with little to no social media presence is less likely to rank higher for a particular string of words or a single keyword than a brand or company that is active. Let’s say for example you wanted to rank your website for the keywords “social media services” in Washington, DC. If your competitors and you both had “good quality” content relating to “social media services”, but you also had a significant amount of traffic from social media to these targeted pages, Google would know that more people from more places (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) visited your website.

social signals

Link Building and Social Media

Link building has always been a primary factor and effective strategy for SEO. But how does that tie in with social media and social signals? While the path itself isn’t as absolute and definitive as say manual link building, there is a lot of clear evidence of major SEO benefits from social signals. To explain better we will go through a couple of scenarios:

Scenario 1: Blogger that has set-up publishing to Facebook

The blogger writes a good piece of “SEO-friendly content” for keywords “AAA” and “BBB”. “AAA” happens to be a trending topic or relates to a popular phrase and/or hashtag. When the article is published to Facebook, it is likely to do well and reach more people than through simple organic SEO traffic from Google searches. In a way, social media can allow you to index your blog / website’s content more effectively and to a more targeted audience. This “targeted traffic” is also more likely to stay longer (time on site), visit more pages (pages per visit), and bounce less (lower bounce rate). Google likes all three of those!

Scenario 2: Law Firm that publishes journals, blog content, and other materials to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

XYZ Law Firm in Los Angeles has been very aggressive with SEO for many years and has numerous rankings for various keywords and keyword phrases. They recently decided they were going to start focusing on a new area of practice, say malpractice law. They currently have great rankings for numerous keywords in other areas of practice, which will give them a head-start of ranking for “malpractice law” and “malpractice law LA”. With their current regular postings of web content to social media they also have more control over how quickly they can get quality traffic to the new content and ultimately rank it faster. Another benefit would be if a doctor or doctor’s office, being a potential client for this keyword, called in directly after seeing the post on LinkedIn Pulse, a Facebook business page or any other network.

All in all, social signals are becoming more important every single day, and in our opinion, has become a mandatory component to any individual or business looking to be competitive online in their industry.


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