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"Do social signals (i.e. signals picked up by Search Engines from social media channel) really matter in the Search Engine Optimisation"? This is one of the questions many of our students ask. That kicked in the idea of writing this article.
Does it really matter?
Yes. Social Signal has a say in SEO.
We wish we knew what really matters and what does not and how much. The Googles of the world really keep their algorithms in their Fort Knox. Hence we rely on the insights on some of the thought leaders who had been working with multiple clients. And they are kind enough to share their learning. Like this one from Brian Dean of Backlinko. He lists quite a number of factors like shares (which in a way tells a search engine how relevant the page is), authority and relevancy of social signal. So it does matter.
Social Signal is not the only player
Is it the only thing that matters- hell, no. This is just one of the things. Here is a Moz survey in 2015 which gives the results of what SEO gurus across the globe think about the Google ranking factors. So social signals are not the only ones, neither they rank high on the list as per the results mentioned here.
Keep Playing across Social Platforms
Now that you know it is not one of the top factors will you engage your time here? Rather you will do something more useful. Like checking your Facebook, see what are your friends are sharing and possibly read and share a few of their posts and go back to your work.
Hang on. You just have done something which creates a minute ripple in the ‘SEOscape’.
Set a clear Social Media vision
Well, it does matter if you know how to use it. As you can see from both the Backlinko and Moz data shared above, there are many factors which help in SEO. You can't practice all - not at the same time neither with the same proficiency.
So you might as well read on and see if there is some 'juice' in the social signal which you can squeeze out. Especially if your business is very conducive for social media promotion.
The WHY of it
With the rapid progress of the social media where multiple channels are having their unique positioning on the digital media landscape, search engines may be hunting social signals to throw up the most relevant results on what we search. Which means the weight of social signals should increase the search ranking in the coming days. I will be surprised if it does not.
So, sooner you align your social media strategy better it is for the SEO performance. At least in the long run. Have you noticed when you search for a brand (just key in the brand name in Google) often along with the main website (and the parent website if applicable) you will find the brand's social media channel getting listed on the 1st page of the search result. Like this one when I search “Nike”
This is the page where most of your visitors (at least those who matters) will take the next step. Either to see your product or service, or to read your blogs, or see the reviews and even join your social media channel. This 'search result' cannot be ignored. These 'relevant' visitors can have a positive effect on your web metrics like bounce rates, time on page, repeat visits - which in a way helps some of the SEO factors- may not be directly though.
Let’s not forget the other important metrics that your CMO depends on to get her incentive- “Brand awareness and Conversion Rate”.
Today we look at what our friends and 'thought leaders' have recommend in the social media. And that helps in making choice of the product or service. Guess this should be enough to convince you.
The How of it
Here are some of the things you can do to help the cause - i.e. leveraging social signals to boost up your SEO returns.
- Update your social media channels with content on a regular basis.
- Content is the king. Make the contents relevant (that’s what we say in our course - make content for your prospective customers and not just for the search engine bots) and 'share-worthy'. Mix them up; don't be too serious; don't just keep selling; don't just stuff in lot of texts. Make them useful.
- If you think handling all social media channels might be handful - try to start off with at least two of the big three. - Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Here are some tips on Facebook optimisation and Twitter optimisation.
- Make sure you have placed the social links prominently on our owned media- websites, e-mails etc.
- If you are doing a wonderful job of publishing lot of good contents in your website, please do put an option to share them effortlessly. Whether she is on your laptop or on her mobile.
- Encourage reviews. More so, positive reviews. It might help in your local SEO (if it makes sense for your business).
- Pay attention to social media profiles. A well written profile appearing in the description of search result leads to higher propensity of clicks. They are like your extended tag lines. On a separate note people are not only searching in search engines.
They are searching in Facebook (Graph search), Linked and Twitter as well. So it makes sense that you expand your SEO beyond the search engines. The above steps will ensure that you are sending a strong social 'signal' to the search engines.
All other things being equal this may just be the advantage you will have over your competitor and your customers can find you before them when they search. Matt Cutts may have a different points of view on this topic. Just to rest our case, as per Search Engine Journal "Google may not be telling us the true value of social signals, but there’s no doubt it plays a large part in SEO. It should be clear that social has a significant role to play when it comes to launching and maintaining a successful SEO strategy" Have you tried some of the tactics discussed above?
Would love to hear your feedback, what worked and what did not work for you! And if you are interested to know more about SEO, see what our Google Digital Marketing Program has to offer.
About the Author
Tuhin Ghosh is a digital marketing strategist consulting to clients in industries like IT, education, real estate, health care, retail and engineering. He is a Jadavpur University and XLRI alumnus who has worked in organisations like ICICI, ABN AMRO, Infosys and TATA Motors before starting his entrepreneurial journey 8 years back. He co-founded two companies one in management consulting and the last one being in e-learning. Currently he is the Subject matter expert in the Digital Marketing domain for Manipal Prolearn and is instrumental in designing digital marketing courses like the Google Digital marketing programs as well as helping in designing and delivering corporate training courses for Prolearn. He also speaks as a guest faculty in IIM, Lucknow and other management colleges.