You may have heard of social signals before, but a lot of people don’t know exactly how they work for SEO purposes. There’s a lot of misconceptions regarding social signals and SEO, so I’m going to try to clear up some of the confusion for you.
Keep in mind, while a lot of this is speculation and conjecture since very few people are privileged enough to know how search engine algorithms really work, my findings are backed by actual experimentation with my own websites and clients.
What are Social Signals?
Social signals are the engagement—likes, shares, and comments—your content receives on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. Threads (Facebook/Instagram’s new competitor to X), is also becoming an important platform to consider. When it comes to social media marketing, engagement metrics are critical for many companies. Despite some SEO experts dismissing their importance, I firmly believe in the value of social signals for SEO, which I’ll justify in this post.
Are Social Signals a Ranking Factor?
It’s clear that Google does not regard social signals as a direct ranking factor. Despite what was suggested years ago by Matt Cutts of Google in an outdated video, social signals do contribute to SEO indirectly, as I will explore shortly. However, it’s also worth noting that algorithms evolve, and so does the role of social engagement in search rankings.
Bing Appreciates Social Media Engagement
Bing values social signals differently, with likes and shares influencing Bing search rankings directly. While Bing’s market share in search may seem small compared to Google, it still accounts for a substantial fraction of searches and can drive meaningful traffic. Hence, it’s prudent to harness social signals for Bing’s SEO benefits as well.
Google Values Social Signals (Indirectly)
Regarding Google, social signals can influence SEO indirectly. Increased social sharing boosts visibility, potentially leading to more organic links—a significant ranking factor for Google. In today’s digital landscape, encouraging linkable content through social engagement is a strategic move.
How to Increase Your Social Signals
Improving social signals can be straightforward. Here are some effective strategies:
1. Link Your Website
Be sure to link to your site in your profile. Even if the links have nofollow tags, you may still get some direct traffic when people find your profile through search engines or via the social platforms themselves.
2. Use Clickbait Titles
Create clickbait titles. Whether you like click bait or not, these types of titles can be very effective at attracting attention and clicks. Just make sure that you’re following the guidelines of the social media platforms you’re posting to because many of them have started cracking down on deceptive clickbait practices (which you should avoid).
3. Implement Call-to-Actions
Use calls-to-action to encourage engagement. Simply asking viewers to like, share, and comment can significantly increase engagement.
4. Utilize Social Sharing Plugins
Social media plugins facilitate content sharing across multiple platforms, simplifying the process for users and increasing the likelihood of engagement.
5. Share Your Prime Content
Selective sharing, i.e., promoting only your prime content, can optimize engagement rates, especially on platforms like Facebook that prioritize high-engagement pages in their feed algorithm.
Social Signals are Important
Although social signals may not directly affect Google rankings, they’re instrumental for visibility on other search engines and can lead to increased traffic and link-building opportunities. Additionally, active social media presence is beneficial for direct traffic, underlining the significance of social media in your comprehensive SEO and digital marketing strategy.