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SEO Social Signals

The role of Social Signals in SEO

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Google may be measuring your reputability based on Likes and +1s

Creating content with the intention of sending it viral in order to achieve SERP improvements, or link baiting, has long been considered a paramount within any SEO campaign.

However recently the importance of receiving mentions and links from blogs seems to have taken a back seat in SEO discussions while viral social signals have taken the stand.

What can Social Signals do for me?

Google has always been crawling and indexing links from social media sites, most of which are nofollow links. Until recently Google viewed these links in the same light in which they viewed nofollow blog comment links – this is totally different now. Seeing as Google’s primary goal is to deliver the content people actually want, analysing how pages are trending on social media sites makes sense. There was just one thing standing in the road of Google using social media trends as a ranking factor – social account creation/control bots. Any 12 year old script kid can create thousands of social accounts and use them to post links. If Google were to give any weight to those links, they run the risk of serving users with irrelevant content in SERPs.

To overcome this risk Google has developed the technologies and algorithms required to determine the reputability of authors or accounts. This means that if a real human with a crawlable Facebook profile decides to share your link, good for you. But any efforts to fool Google bots are going to achieve nothing.

What can I do for Social Signals?

Unfortunately you cannot do a lot. If you want to achieve long term rankings you will need to stop worrying about how many people are sharing your posts and start spending your time creating content which they are likely to want to share. Of course if your blog releases a new article it makes sense to share it on your Facebook page. But that should be the extent of your forced social media attention.

If there are notable people such as bloggers or entrepreneurs whom you think may be interested in your content, let them know. This does not mean that blog commenting with a link is the best way to do this – you preferably should send them an email or IM. The worst case scenario is that you get traffic but no link. The best case scenario is that they share your link on their social profiles or link to it on their blog. You can’t lose.

What is the Conclusions?

Social signals prove reputability but are not themselves a ranking factor. A page with 100,000 likes will not be certain to rank better than a page with 20 likes – high quality backlinks are still the best way to achieve your goal positions in any SERP.

Naturally, a page to which 100 people have bothered to link to is going to have a significant amount of likes, shares, +1s and tweets. The basic role of social signals in SEO is that if Google sees a page with 1,000 backlinks and nobody has bothered to socially engage with the page, they know something is a little fishy.

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