If you’re SEO focused, you’ve most likely been giving social signals some attention…
…a bit half-heartedly.
After all, SEO’s know to get to the top you need quality content, solid on-page SEO tactics, and high quality links pointing to those pages. That’s it…right? Great on-page and off-page SEO can take you high in the rankings.
But just how much does my social media presence impact my SEO? Will I get the rankings that my business (or my client’s business’) need without a solid dose of social signals?
Those are extremely valid concerns in today’s digital marketing climate.
We’ll give you the short and sweet answer but just know that there’s more to it. You’ll want to read this entire article to truly understand why, how, and when to utilize social media signals to improve your search engine rankings.
Short answer is a resounding – Yes. You absolutely must have a social media presence that send signals to the major search engines to improve your rankings. The true SEO winners utilize social to dramatically improve their search visibility versus their competitors.
Why Social Signals Are Important
Reason #1 – Branding
You and I both know what a business “brand” is. It’s pretty clear when you see it, even online. A fairly corporate looking site with a brand-like sounding name, a big logo, and a clear color scheme. Simple.
But how do the search engines know what a brand is? After all, they’re just bots. They can’t simply “look” at a page and see those tell-tale signs that we do to instantly know…This site is a company with a brand.
Google will utilize a number of different metrics to determine if a site is a true “brand” or some other type of “site.”
This is where social signals step in (in a big way). Those bots are going to be looking for mentions of your brand across the entire web. Without social mentions of your exact brand name and url Google may not understand what type of site you have.
Pro Tip Here – Beyond social signals they’re also looking to see if people are typing your brand name into their search engine… but that’s another conversation.
Reason #2 – The Data Is In
For quite a while now Google has been saying that social signals do NOT affect a website’s rankings. We’re here to tell you – that’s complete B.S.
SEO professionals all over the globe have been testing this theory. All of the tests show that without social signals your site simply will not rank as well as others with them. Numbers don’t lie and the rankings do support that.
Social Signal Test #1 – Quicksprout.com
There is a fantastic gifographic on this page showing the results of an extensive, well controlled, social media signals test. You’ll see that just adding Google+ followers gave one website a big lift in search engine rankings.
Social Signals Test #2 – SearchMetrics.com
Here’s the go-to de-facto source on ranking factors. Most professional SEO’s refer to this website as a trusted resource because of all of the testing they’ve done over the years. Just take a look at this page to see their break down of ranking factors.
Social Signals Test #3 – Moz.com
Moz is yet another undeniably credible source for SEO information. They’ve also studied the effect of social signals on rankings and found there to be a positive correlation (just like searchmetrics). Now correlation doesn’t necessarily mean “causation.” Those are different things.
This is where social becomes interesting…While the signals correlate to good rankings they don’t necessarily cause good rankings. The magic lies within the “synergy” as this quote says:
The key to using social media to drive SEO is to build it to be your very own PR channel to promote your great content. When done properly, this will create a powerful synergy between your content publishing, social media, and SEO programs
…so as you can see the pros say it’s important.
How To Use Social Signals For SEO
Step #1 – Publish That Great Content Across All Channels That Make Sense
As the quote above implies you have to use it as a synergistic PR channel of sorts. Your social platforms are your channels to promote your own content, get the word out, and start the flow of social mentions and metrics.
It all fits together like one big SEO puzzle.
Just as we said earlier, we all know we need to publish great content to get the rankings we want right? Well now we have to publish and share that great content as well.
Step #2 – Be Social
It’s not enough to just sling that content out there in the social media sphere and “hope” people will share it. You’ve got to build relationships with real people interested in what you have to say.
This includes building new followers, liking, +1’ing, sharing, etc. other people’s content. You must use the platforms the way they were intended if you ever hope to see a “return” on your time spent publishing and sharing.
Step #3 – Be Where Your Customer / Clients Are
Not all of these social platforms are right for your customers. Some markets tend to use Facebook or Pinterest more than other platforms. You want to make sure you understand your customer or client avatar well enough to know where they spend their social media time.
When you know that you can create and claim your brand’s profile and begin building it out. Add cover photos, publish content, and interact with comments. It’s all part of the system.
Hopefully at this point you know what needs to be done. There’s not more convincing necessary – social signals drive SEO results. All that’s left is to implement a publishing strategy, claim your social profiles, and create those PR channels we talk about above.