Guest post by Chiko Noguchi. To gain exposure by partnering with us, read our write for us guideline.
The SEO industry received a huge shakeup in 2012, and the shaking can be chalked up to all the recent changes made to search algorithms in general. Black hat techniques are seemingly losing their effectiveness by the day, and the effectiveness of a few white hat methods are now being questioned too but the truth remains that white SEO is the way to go.
Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about the role social interactions have in influencing change in the search landscape. Social signals seem to be a factor, but how big is their impact, and what signals should we be looking at?
To be clear, the role social signals play in the SEO services industry is still unclear at this point. That’s even with numerous studies and expert opinions. However, there is enough information out there to put together a list of signals that are most likely to matter to your efforts.
4 Social Signals to Consider
1. Social Actions
Activity looks to be one of the most influential social signals. This action includes people liking and sharing your content on Facebook, and tweeting mentions of your brand name or retweeting your original posts. According to a study by Searchmetrics, which focused on the correlation of social signals and search, Facebook shares not only have the biggest influence, but activity from Facebook has the biggest overall impact. If you look at it this way, it would seem that the bigger the network, the more valuable it is to your SEO strategy.
2. Social Connections
The overall consensus is that social activity somehow factors into the search ranking mix. You may be surprised to know that social connections could be a reason as well. People liking your Facebook page. Building up your number of Twitter followers. Adding people to your circles on Google+. It may very well help increase your search visibility, another theory backed up by Searchmetrics’ statistics. Knowing that simply making connections might at least be one viable signal could motivate for marketers who have been hesitant about social media.
3. Positive Reviews
Social media has provided new and exciting ways for businesses to interact with their customers. It is not only an ideal customer service tool, but an outlet that helps strengthen relationships. What makes social media such an attractive proposition is that it works both ways. Customers can also reach out to the companies they do business with and engage in conversation, or simply leave feedback. This feedback is critical in terms of awareness and word of mouth marketing, but could also be another signal that search engines are looking at.
Back in 2010, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land wrote an article highlighting how Google was likely using reviews as a ranking factor. The article was specifically referring to reviews published on Google Product Search. Most other pundits seem to think that reviews on sites like Google Local and Yelp are given consideration. With so many aspects blurring the lines between what is officially social and what isn’t, it wouldn’t be surprising to know that feedback on sites like Facebook and Twitter counts as well.
4. Increased Backlinks
There has been much talk about whether social signals have become more influential than the backlinks SEO experts have told us reign supreme for so long. Well it looks like that time has yet to come. In fact, Matt Cutts revealed in an interview with Danny Sullivan that links not only matter, but they are still the most important ranking factor. Cutts said that the impact of social socials could be greater in the next decade or so, while also hinting that they now have an influence today.
Backlinks still wielding a lot of power is great for SEO professionals with a social presence because it likely means the links you generate on sites such as Twitter and Pinterest would help boost your rankings. What you need to do is take an active approach to making sure that your presence on the social space is formidable. That means interacting with others, developing valuable content, and encouraging people to share. If you’re looking for your surefire social signal, it may very well lie in backlinks.
All signs show that we are moving into a web era where social media has a huge, if not the biggest impact on SEO. For now, we are at a speculative stage where nothing is certain. The best thing professionals can do is to make sure they are educated and stay on top of the developments in the ever-changing world of search and the Internet.
Where do you stand on search signals? Are they already affecting your SEO value?
Chiko is a best practices activist and advocate for a leading provider of email marketing services.
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