Sending Social Signals: A Social Approach to SEO

By July 19, 2012SEO, Social Media

If you’re a business owner, internet marketer, or just someone interested in SEO, you’ve most likely already social-signals-seoheard about Google using social signals to influence sites’ Google ranks.

The rank a site gets and where it shows up in Google’s search results is based on several different factors that make up an algorithm.  Google’s algorithm has gone through many changes over the years always in hopes of better providing Google users with the most accurate, high-quality and trustworthy content.  

No algorithm is going to be perfect but search engines attempt to be as relevant as possible. Some search engine optimizers have opted to try to reverse engineer the algorithms in an attempt to game them. White hat SEO’s strive to learn the algorithm so that they can work with them. However, the importance of adding the human component of social signals, which will change Google search rankings, cannot be underestimated.

What are social signals? Why Should I Care About Them?

Social signals, as we are discussing them here, are the connections made between brands/businesses and their clients/potential clients.  And they are sent through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ (with “likes”, “tweets”, “pins”, etc.).

When the connection between a merchant and their client is a mutual one based on an exchange of value, that signal is considered an “active signal.”

The more active signals you have going at a time, the more your network can and will grow.  By expanding your network you can connect with more and more potential consumers, as well as get a better idea of the audience you currently have.  

A successful brand/business creates active social signals based on what their audience deems valuable and relevant. (Tweet this)

Can a lot of sharing (quality or not) affect how Google’s core rankings are scored?

Social elements like sharing, so far, are more for display than they are used as scoring elements (which actually have an effect on ranking results).

But if we take a look at how Google now examines the quality of inbound/outbound links on a site instead of the quantity, to determine if a site is trustworthy (a.k.a. to determine its value and rank).  The logic here is that high-quality, trustworthy sites link to other high-quality, trustworthy sites, and spammy sites link to other spammy sites.

Our guess is that, as with inbound/outbound links which were first used by webmasters and bloggers to improve SEO purely through a quantitative approach, social signals will eventually be valued by the quality of the content over the number of shares or “likes”.

So Why is Sharing Important?

Just because the impact of social signals on Google rankings isn’t deeply understood yet, doesn’t mean they don’t have great value.

People are more likely to click on content, see a movie, make an investment, etc., if they know someone (or have someone in their network) who recommends/likes/shares that content, review, information, etc., and so some content will have higher (personal) rankings than Google’s designated rank/value.

The fact that social signals have already proved to be valuable because they can improve the personal ranking and value an individual might designate to a site/content, illustrates that social signals can be valuable and important in SEO.

Even if you’re just putting your toe in the social media waters, we strongly urge corporate marketers and business owners consider getting a social media assessment as we discussed in this previous blog post.

The reasoning being, that over time Google will find better ways to not only incorporate social signals into SEO, but they’ll also have to find a better way to track and measure the quality of social signals in order to remain valuable and relevant to their own users.

Eric Layland

Author Eric Layland

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