Social signals and SEO: What is their relationship, and can being more active on social media really help your website’s SEO?
Let’s discuss this in more detail, and then I think you’ll see how understanding this relationship can help your marketing.
Let’s first answer the question: What are social signals?
Social signals are metrics such as shares, likes, votes, and retweets, as perceived by search engines. These metrics represent human interactions on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Various SEO experts have claimed that the signals influence rankings in the last few years. However, none of the top search engines have outrightly confirmed the reports. As a result, marketers publish different speculations about what the signals can and cannot do. Most of these speculations are misguided.
This review will clear up a few details about social signals as a ranking factor. I will also tell you how you can use them to improve your SEO.
Social Signals as a Ranking Factor: What You Need To Know
In December 2010, Danny Sullivan published a piece on social signals and their role in SERP rankings. In the article, he shared valuable insights from a short interview with Google and Bing.
Both search engines confirmed that links that get more interactions on Twitter received a boost on the SERPs. That was particularly true for links that are mentioned by authority figures.
That effectively means that if an authority figure mentions your web page, the resulting retweets and interactions will push the page up the SERPs. However, Google reported that this happens only in certain situations.
What about Facebook shares and likes? Can they boost your rankings? Sadly, no. At least not at the time. Google reported that they do not have access to personal wall data. Therefore, they cannot acquire the necessary data from Facebook and use it to influence page ranking.
Nevertheless, the simple takeaway from the interview is that social signals are becoming crucial for link building. It’s also important to reiterate that the interview took place in 2010. Since then, social networks have become even more popular. Therefore, it’s highly likely that their impact on search engine rankings has increased tremendously.
Google may not come out and acknowledge this, but you simply cannot afford to ignore it.
How to Improve Your SEO With Social Signals?
Social signals are only effective if they are implemented correctly. You should also know that search engines are smart enough to detect spam. So, don’t even think about cheating the algorithm with fake retweets, shares, and comments.
Here are three simple steps to create social signals that will benefit your SEO efforts:
1. Build An Audience
You cannot get any social signals if you don’t have an audience to begin with. Therefore, the first step is to build your following.
But, before you go on a rampage opening a page on every social media platform you come across, ask yourself one question: Where do your customers hang out?
It’s so much easier to build an audience on a platform that already has your target customers. Even more important, you’re likely to get better results when your message appears on the screens of your leads.
The best part? Marketing your content to the right audience will generate social signals and boost your conversions. Your landing page and recurring emails you send to prospects will have a higher conversion rate since you’re talking to relevant and interested leads.
Develop an effective social media marketing campaign once you know where your audience is. This strategy will help you grow your following and get your message out there.
One of the best ways to grow your follower count is to be active online.
Another brilliant method of improving your visibility on the platform and increasing traffic to your account is optimizing your profile. Be sure to add the relevant keywords and a CTA where necessary.
Here is an example showing a Pinterest profile filled with relevant keywords for the business. You can see the account is getting 10m+ monthly views.
Besides the above techniques, you can run paid ads and partner with influencers to accelerate your results.
Growing your audience is the first crucial step, in generating the social signals your business needs.
2. Give Your Audience Something To Link Back To
You’ll need to go out of your way to create relevant and high-quality content for your audience. Start by creating an accurate customer persona and then create relevant content for them.
Relevant content generates more likes, comments, shares, and clicks. That’s how posts go viral overnight, and before you know it, your page is attracting natural backlinks from other websites.
The most famous example of what a viral post can do comes from Matt Woodward. He published a post on “unhealthiest foods” on Facebook. The post generated more than 68,000 likes, 34,000 comments, and 31,000 shares. Thanks to this level of engagement, the article skyrocketed to the first page of Google search results for the keyword. It was so effective that it became the featured snippet.
Guess what? That webpage topped the keyword for years. By the time it dropped from the top position, the website had already garnered a good number of high DA backlinks.
That’s the power of quality social media posts.
Further Reading: 11 Actionable Link Building Strategies For 2022 and Beyond
3. Build Trust and Credibility
Have you ever heard of something called social proof? Social proof is a phenomenon where someone’s actions take their cue from what other people do. For instance, customers can buy a product from your website simply because they’ve seen glowing comments on your social media posts.
Therefore, comments, likes, and even the number of followers can help you build trust and credibility for your brand.
How do you get these comments and likes? It’s simple. Publish valuable content for your audience, and they’ll give you the engagements for free.
You must also be creative with the type of content you’re publishing. People have a very short attention span, so your posts must grab attention as quickly as possible. Visual content is your best bet on social media, especially on platforms like Instagram.
The beauty of building credibility and trust is the benefits will go beyond the social signals you are looking for. Once social media users start trusting your brand, you’ll become a respected voice in that niche. You’ll then have an easier time scaling your business.
4. Build a Consistent Brand Presence
Your social media success is directly proportional to your presence on social media. When you post on social media regularly, your brand’s exposure improves, and the chances are that a member of your target audience will find and follow you.
Posting on the same day of the week at a specific time encourages your followers to remember you and engage with your content. You may save time and energy by using social scheduling and automation.
It’s also a good idea to repurpose your content on social media. You may, for instance, transform your blog posts into podcasts, internal data into case studies, infographics, or any other type of visual, and so on.
Aside from that, it’s critical to have a brand personality and find a way to be conversational. The tone of voice, colors, visuals, and fonts you use on every social media platform let you establish a personality and become instantly recognizable. Hootsuite, for example, employs the same template style and tone of voice on Instagram.
Furthermore, by reacting to comments, like, and retweeting, you demonstrate that you exist, care about your audience, and are not a robot.
5. Use influencer marketing
Connecting with influencers, whether thought leaders, bloggers, or industry websites, is a great approach to boost social signals and grow your social media following. Influencer content with a conversational tone and personal narrative helps distinguish your posts from other featured or sales-driven posts that you may publish on your feed.
However, if you want to boost your social signals, you should aim to increase the number of shares, likes, and comments on your original post page. In other words, as you conduct research, create a budget, identify influencers, and evaluate, you must keep the goal of boosting your social signal in mind.
You may request that the influencer share your post on their story so that their followers can convert to your post and engage with it. You may also organize a contest with an influencer and design contest rules to boost interaction.
You may also employ the approach of social media takeovers. A social media takeover is when an influencer takes over your brand’s social media account for a short period and uploads content on their behalf.
The makeup artist Gucci Westman, for instance, took over Goop’s account to provide make-up tips. On the other hand, Goop requested that followers view the rest of the tips by clicking on the bio, which will increase the social signal.
This influencer campaign strategy can introduce your company to new consumers and increase engagement.
6. Engage with customers on social media
Customers expect that their relationships with brands will extend beyond the use of their products. They want to feel appreciated, respected, and prioritized by the brand. For that reason, it’s vital to interact with them to provide value to their experience. It will also encourage your audience to interact with your content, which will increase social signals.
You may engage customers in a more meaningful, long-term connection with your brand. Telling stories, fostering discussions, and addressing client needs and interests are all ways to engage with your audience. Social Media Today, for instance, has started a conversation by employing a piece of controversial business news, which will improve engagement and social signals.
You can keep up with trending subjects on social media to post content that generates more online debates and increases interest. Of course, you must reply to your followers’ viewpoints and express your own.
Also, when customers leave positive or negative comments or messages on social media, you must respond to everyone. Visuals, such as videos, GIFs, and photographs, are always a good approach to engage with your audience. You may also use live streaming to interact with your audience. Aside from that, you can provide discounts and freebies.
You may also repurpose and reshare your company’s client reviews, comments, and success stories on your social media pages to show that you appreciate them and care about them.
Further Reading: 15 Social Media Content Ideas to Increase Engagement
7. Optimize your social profile
An optimized social profile is one in which every section of your profile is filled up. It demonstrates to audiences who you are, what you do, and what you are an expert in. That improves the visibility of your profile in social search results and creates trust among individuals who might want to follow you.
Your name, profile image, bio, descriptions, hashtags, category, and a link to your website are all part of this optimization. So, you must include your actual brand name so that visitors can readily recognize you and connect with your content.
You may also improve brand exposure by adding a logo to your profile or cover photo. It’s critical to use the same profile image on all major social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
When optimizing your social media profiles, ensure that your business description is consistent across all platforms. Also, include crucial and SEO-friendly keywords that define your business in as many sections as possible.
You should also include hashtags since they are keywords that consumers use to discover content by category. Take a look at your “About” tab or profile bio and add an email sign-up link or phone number. Sprout Social, for example, maintains a well-optimized social profile. They even provide their email address so that followers may contact them directly.
When you properly optimize consistent, audience-specific, informative, and engaging pages, you can boost your social media presence and profile interaction.
Wrapping Up the Debate about Social Signals and SEO
Google and other search engines may not be upfront about the role of social signals in webpage rankings, but there’s no denying that these signals are highly beneficial to your website. For starters, establishing yourself on social media increases your brand’s visibility.
Secondly, it gives you tons of traffic, and if you’re creative enough, you’ll get free backlinks from other websites. So, if you think about it, you have nothing to lose by adding social signals to your SEO arsenal. They will probably boost your rankings and will increase your leads and conversions.
Sam is part of the marketing team at Mailshake. Sam’s goal is to inspire people to not just “hang in there” but to thrive. When Sam’s not publishing or promoting new content, you can find him playing sports and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
Hero photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
Social Signals SEO FAQs
Social signals in SEO refer to the perception search engines have of a website’s social media presence. This means that social media activity, such as shares, likes, followers, and comments, can impact a website’s ranking on search engine result pages. Social signals are important because they provide insight into a website’s overall reputation and authority online. The more social signals a website has, the more likely it is to be viewed as a credible source by search engines.
Yes. Social signals include activities such as likes, shares, and comments on social media platforms, and they can greatly impact a website’s search rankings. In fact, search engines like Google prioritize websites that have high social engagement as it’s an indicator of quality content. So, if you want to improve your SEO and boost your online presence, it’s essential to pay attention to your social signals.
Examples of social signals vary from person to person, but common examples include gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. A smile can indicate happiness or friendliness, while a frown can signal sadness or disapproval. Eye contact can show interest or confidence, while avoidance of eye contact can suggest deceit or embarrassment. Intonation and pitch of voice can convey sarcasm, excitement, or agitation.
While Google has not confirmed that social signals directly impact website rankings, there is evidence that they do indirectly affect SEO. Online content that receives a lot of social shares is likely to lead to increased traffic and backlinks, both of which are important ranking factors for Google. Additionally, social media platforms can be a valuable source of referral traffic and engagement for a website.
A social signal refers to any indication of popularity, relevance, or importance of a piece of content or a website conveyed through likes, comments, shares, or even views. A social signal acts as an indicator of how much interest people have in a particular topic or piece of content, and search engines like Google use this information to determine the ranking of a website.