Do Social Signals Impact Google Rankings?

Written by

Michael Saly

Posted on March 1, 2021

Should you dedicate a budget for social media? Will that help your content rank higher?

Google’s flip-flop on the subject in the last decade could make you think twice. Now, the tech company did say social media signals were a ranking factor back in 2010. But then, back in 2014 Google’s Head of Search Spam Matt Cutts stated that the search engine doesn’t look at social media as a ranking signal.

Yet, most social marketers today agree social signals can influence Google rankings. Why did that change, and by how much? We will take a look at the timeline in the last decade, and what’s changed (and what did not).

Today, search engines pay heed to the frequency and engagement around the web. That includes all the shares on social media, including Facebook. More shares mean the URL provides value to people and qualifies as a piece of quality content. So, social signals do influence your Google ranking, though indirectly.

In this post, we will explore how social signals impact your ranking. Plus, we will also share a few SEO tips for improving social signals.

How do Social Signals Impact Website Promotion in 2021?

Start-ups and new businesses looking to leverage the power of SEO to move ahead of their competition shouldn’t forget how important it is to have a social media profile.

One of the major studies after Matt Cutt’s statement was conducted by CognitiveSEO in 2016. The study checked 23 million shares to understand how social signals influence rankings. The findings were quite interesting:

  • A well-established presence on social media is related to better rankings
  • High ranking URLs have more shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest
  • 1st-ranking URLs have more Google+ shares (when it existed)

Does that hold though in 2021? Let’s look at another major study two years later.

In 2018, Hootsuite tried out an experiment of their own, trying to determine if social media influenced search engine rankings. The results? A significant 22% improved visibility in search engine rankings for the pages that got more engagement in social media.

Even in 2021, the results seem valid. Microsoft’s search engine, for instance, has over 24% of users around the world. Unlike Google, Bing officially admits that they use social media shares as a ranking factor – all to understand how popular an article really is.

And when it comes to Google, increasing evidence states that there is a strong correlation between social signals and content ranking. Popular Reddit threads have a consensus – how it can be worthwhile to invest in a good social media strategy.

Today, social media profiles show up on SERPs, so focusing on social signals may even boost organic traffic. It can help the content rank better. When Google says that social media signals aren’t a direct ranking factor, they don’t talk about how it can influence rankings indirectly.

Think about this – even if Facebook shares aren’t a direct ranking factor, it can help bring you more backlinks from other websites. That, in turn, can lead to better rankings for your website.

What Type of Websites Benefit from Social Promotion?

More than 50% of the world’s population now use social media. Every 9 out of 10 people you meet have a profile on a social media platform.

This means you will get all types of people on social media, or in other words, your target customer or audience is more than likely to be active on it. Whether you sell antivirus software or medical equipment, you can leverage social media for lead generation.

Naturally, any website or business can focus on social media success to boost ranking and conversions. This holds true for all industries, whether you sell B2B or B2C.

Improving social media performance helps you:

  • Get more traffic
  • Climb the ladders of ranking
  • Build domain authority
  • Develop an audience base
  • Get more visibility
  • Promote their products and services

Tips for Increasing Social Signals

Here are a few tips to help you get more shares and better rank.

Write Quality Content

Every piece of content you publish has to provide value or entertainment to your audience. You can’t expect to generate social signals with poor blogs or videos. Be sure to include the right keywords to get more organic traffic and leads.

Publish Often

Choose a schedule and stick to it for publishing your content for the best results. Some businesses publish daily, while some post updates a few times a week. Choose what works best for you and create an editorial calendar to manage your content marketing.

Make It Interactive

Readers or viewers engage more with interactive content that has images, infographics, videos, and other interactive elements. Incorporate them your content for more shares and likes, and better ranking.

Take Advantage of Trends

Covering trends and popular topics can help you get more social engagement for your content. You can follow trending hashtags and create content around them to attract more viewers.

For example, in 2020, COVID-19 was a popular trend for the whole world. People clicked any article or video on coronavirus to help them stay safe and aware.

Social media is a great place to pick up the latest trends and opinions. You can also share your content on the same platforms for higher rankings.

Conduct Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways attract more people to your content and increase your shares. You can easily create giveaways using third-party platforms for your social media accounts. Your website will receive an instant boost of traffic, and people will be more interested in your brand.

Work with Influencers

The influencer market is going to be worth $15 billion by the end of 2022. You can work with influencers in your niche and take advantage of their ready audience base. Small businesses can start with less popular influencers with adequate followers to save their money.

Engage with Your Audience

Social media gives you a wonderful opportunity to interact with potential customers directly. Join groups in your niche and start making your presence.

Over time, your follower list will grow to ensure you get enough engagement on any content you share.

Track Your Progress

It’s essential to track the progress of your social media strategies. Many tools let you track the number of shares or likes your content gets. You may also access analytics to understand your audience and gather meaningful insights.

Refine your strategy based on your insights to gather more social signals and improved ranking.

Which Social Network is Best to Generate Social Signals?

Facebook

Facebook, with its 2.8 billion monthly active users, is the biggest social media network. Users exchange endless content on the platform that generates massive amounts of social signals.

You should definitely be on Facebook and share your blogs and content. Many high-ranking contents have more Facebook shares, so the relation is well-established.

Twitter

Google partnered with Twitter back in 2015 and included tweets in SERPs. The number of tweets and retweets create a significant impact on your ranking, according to BigCommerce.

More retweets can also help you grow your domain authority.

LinkedIn

Most study findings show LinkedIn to be a big factor for micro-content rankings. First-ranking articles of 1 – 50-words seem to have more LinkedIn and Facebook activity.

Plus, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B businesses to generate social signals.

Many other social media platforms influence SERP rankings:

  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon

Can You Improve Rankings with Social Signals SEO Only?

Many studies and research work has established the correlation between social signals and rankings.

However, you cannot rank your content just by optimizing social signals. SEO guru Neil Patel makes this clear in his blog. Social signals are going to impact your rankings, but not always directly. You will also need to focus on the fundamentals, like:

  • Keywords
  • Website performance
  • Link building
  • Quality content
  • Domain authority

Work on your social media strategy along with your SEO strategy for the best results.

Final Thoughts

It’s undoubtedly clear that social signals do influence search engine rankings. You should have a social media strategy along with SEO marketing if you want better visibility. Social signals are only a part of the equation, and you need to optimize your website for several other ranking factors.

That being said, the more social media signals you generate, the higher the likelihood of your content ranking higher – whether directly or indirectly.

Take the help of our tips to create a strong social media presence and take advantage of social signals SEO.

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