If Social Signals are Not a Ranking Factor, Why Should I do Social Media?

Apr 1, 2014

There’s been some debate about whether social signals are a ranking factor or not. In fact, many SEO professionals have gone to great lengths to prove or disprove the use of social signals as a ranking factor. Because of the argument, many people are wondering whether they should even consider them when building a website. Here are some reasons why you should include social signals and how they are making an impact on ranking factor.

    social signals
  1. Social Signals Have a Strong Ranking Factor Correlation
  2. According to Social Metric, there was a strong correlation between Google +1s, Facebook shares, number of backlinks, and Facebook comments. In fact, eight of the top ten highest ranking factor correlations are social signals. Other factors that seem to affect ranking include Facebook Likes, Pinterest, and Tweets.

    These social signals have a higher correlation when considering the impact of ranking factor than the factors that we normally consider when building a website. Typical considerations include keyword relevance, text character link, position of the keyword in title, and even in some instances backlinks. Google +1s and Facebook shares have higher correlations than backlinks, but most people focus on backlinks long before considering Google +1s or Facebook shares.

  3. Backlinks Work, But Not as Effectively as Social Signals
  4. Backlinks still work, but they are not as effective as social signals. Because Google +1s and Facebook shares dominate, there is some concern for businesses that don’t nurture their Facebook pages and try to generate shares. Content shares will help websites gain more exposure if the content is relevant. More people will search for content and navigate through the website where the original content resides because of information shared. Backlinks are still effective and should be considered as a ranking factor.

  5. Think About How Ads Affect Your Results
  6. Did you know that too much advertising can affect search ranking success? In most instances, advertising had a negative correlation to improving search engine ranking position. In fact, AdSense Blocks, AdSense, and AdLinks all had a correlation coefficient equating to -0.04. Since AdSense most often appears on poorly ranked sites, you may yield a higher return on investment if you focus on social signals over advertising.

If Social Signals are Not a Ranking Factor Why Should I Do Social Media?

Keep in mind that while social signals are important, nothing beats a strong brand. Companies with a good brand image will rank in the top five without conforming to these constructs. The best thing you can do for your company is to have a product worth purchasing. These tips will help you sell more of the product or service once you have established a quality product.

Keep in mind that the primary argument about social signals originated because correlation does not necessarily equate to causation. Additionally, there is never a guarantee that your rankings will improve with social signals. There is only a strong correlation. You still need to focus on all aspects of web design including content, appearance, usability, load times, keywords, and other factors to give a better probability that your website will be noticed.