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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. When it comes to social media marketing, this is the most important metric for many companies. Many SEO experts believe it’s a waste of time to focus on social signals for SEO purposes, but I adamantly disagree with that sentiment, and I’ll explain why.
Are Social Signals a Ranking Factor?
First of all, Google says that social signals are not a direct ranking factor. This doesn’t mean social signals won’t help with Google SEO in an indirect way, which we will discuss later, but it means it won’t directly boost your rankings in Google. Matt Cutts of Google posted a video several years ago that said Google does use data from social sites in ranking, however, this is outdated now, and may not be accurate anymore.
Bing Loves Social Media Engagement
Bing, however, is another story. Likes and shares definitely do have a direct impact on Bing search rankings. You may think Bing doesn’t matter, but approximately 24% of internet searches are done through Bing instead of Google, and that number has been steadily rising for several years. Bing can send a significant amount of traffic, so at the very least, social signals are worthwhile if only for boosting your rankings in Bing.
Google Values Social Signals (Indirectly)
But they can have an impact on Google SEO in an indirect way, as well. See, the more your content gets shared, the more likely it is to be seen, which can lead to more people viewing and linking to your content. And that, of course, can end up having a big impact on your Google rankings. It can be very difficult to get organic links these days, so anything you can do to increase the odds of your content getting linked to and viewed is a very good thing!
How to Increase Your Social Signals
So, what are a few ways you can increase your social signals? Let’s take a look at a few of the easiest ways.
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
Use plugins to make sharing your content easier. There are many good social media plugins you can use on your blog to insert links to the most popular social platforms, allowing users to directly share a piece of content on different platforms.
5. Only Share Your Best Content
Only share your best content. This may seem a bit counterintuitive, as you want traffic to all of your content, however sharing only your best content will help you get noticed more often on social media. For example, Facebook shows content from pages that get a lot of engagement more often than pages with less engagement, so by posting only your very best content, you can ensure that all of your posts have a good engagement rate, which will allow your content to be shown more often.
Social Signals are Important
While social signals may not necessarily have a direct effect on your rankings, at least where Google is concerned, they can certainly have an effect on other search engines and will make it easier for others to find your content and link to it. You may also get some direct traffic from your social media profiles, so this is an additional benefit, too, which definitely makes it worthwhile to concentrate on social media as one element of your overall SEO and digital marketing strategy.