Social signals seem to be surpassing other search engine ranking factors in determining where websites will appear in the search rankings. Backlinks were the single most important criteria in search engine ranking. Although a Spearman study indicates social signals have a higher correlation and play a greater role in search engine ranking than backlinking, at Carbide Media, we have observed that social signals account for about 20% of the overall success in web rankings.
The Spearman study simply states that there seems to be a high correlation between social signals and search engine ranking, but there is not definitive answer. A correlation does not mean that it is necessarily a search engine ranking, but then again, site speed was not a search engine ranking factor, and in 2011, Google made an official announcement regarding its inclusion. Upon further investigation, it is found that, indeed, social signals are officially a part of Google search engine rankings and are considered a factor.
What are Social Signals?
Social signals, also referred to as social mentions, describe how website owners and social media page owners receive feedback, praise and references from the community. The feedback is typically regarding content, but the feedback may also refer to a company, its product or service, podcast, YouTube videos or a host of other items on the web that people thinks warrants a public vote. Social signals simply describe how the social media public feels about a company, brand, website or event on the web.
Every social media tool has its own form of social signal. For Google Plus, its primary social signal is the +1, with a secondary signal of URL’s being linked in posts. Facebook uses “Likes” to gauge the opinion of the audience, though “shares” and URL mentions in posts also play a factor. Twitter uses “follows” and “retweets” to gauge the public opinion, again in addition to URL’s being linked in tweets. All social media tools use some form of “follow” or engagement quantifier to gauge public opinion.
How Do They Affect Search Engine Rankings?
Content with the most positive feedback indicated by likes, follows, shares, retweets and URL mentions tends to have higher ranking in search engines than content without this type of feedback. Google is giving higher credence to pages that the public values when it comes to search engine ranking. After all, the public should have input since they are the people reading the content and making decisions based off what they have read on the internet. Google buys into this social validation, and the company made it evident by adding social factors as criteria in search engine rankings.
Webmasters must not only ensure that traffic arrives to a site, but people must also click on those like, +1 or follow buttons to increase search engine ranking. How does a webmaster accomplish this goal? The most obvious way to accomplish this goal is to increase the quality of content. Content must be compelling and engaging to increase the number of likes on a page. Shallow content with limited information does not serve the public as intended and is not praise-worthy, share-worthy, or generally worth a mention by someone on a social network.
Social signals are not always an indicator that a website or content is reputable. The author could be popular and have a strong social network but provide very little substantial content. In theory, the public hopes that social signals would indicate the value of the content, product or services offered, but unfortunately, this is not always true. Though social signals are in fact a ranking criteria, the use of social signals must be weighed against the actual value of the content presented.
Are Social Signals Replacing Backlinks in Search Engine Ranking?
According to a Searchmetrics study, social signals are playing an increasing role than backlinks in search engine ranking. In particular, Facebook shares and Google +1s seem to have the biggest impact on search engine ranking.
Content is critical, backlinks crucial and social signals are now becoming a must do!
Will backlinks replace social signals? It is possible but unlikely. In the present day, people conducting business on the web who depend on website traffic should consider the services of an online marketing consultancy, such as Carbide Media, who understand how to improve search rankings through social signals, backlink building and on-page optimisation. If you’re going it alone, you can try to read copious articles regarding the subject matter and become a subject matter expert, but wouldn’t your time be better spent in managing your own business operations?
Incorporate Social Signals In Your SEO Strategy
If your company is not actively engaging in social media, publishing remarkable content and syndicating via the social networks, then you’re missing the boat and are well behind the times. If you have started to establish a social presence, but aren’t sure about how to attract likes, followers, +1′s and other social signals of approval and engagement, then contacting Carbide Media for a free consult should be your next step. There’s no charge to discuss your current objectives, direction and what steps need to be undertaken to succeed. Develop your social media strategy today and call Carbide Media 03333 440 940 (UK telephone).