Matt Cutts shared a video where he discussed the challenge that engineers might have if they had created dependencies between the Google ranking algorithms and social signals. In short, it would be far too risky to build these dependencies in the event the other social media platform either blocked search or fell in popularity.
I have no doubt this is the case, but the rumors persist as search engine professionals often see a correlation between trending social topics and trending search engine rankings. As Matt reiterates, that’s not causation, though. We’ve shared our thoughts on the impact of social media on SEO already, but let’s discuss social signals and how the two are correlated.
- Fans and Follower Count – If you’re an established, well-known authority in your industry, the chances are quite good that you’ve been written about online. Perhaps you spoke at events, did interviews, wrote bylines, or had people reference your work. Any of those mentions, of course, would drive both links to you. Of course, that recognition is probably going to drive a solid following online if you’re actively utilizing social media. Social following can be largely faked, making those counts highly improbable for ranking input.
- Social Shares – Social media provides one of the most effective and efficient means of sharing information online in relevant networks. Share some unusual primary research or a compelling piece of content and you won’t be surprised when it spreads like wildfire and reaches so many people. Social media shares are often how I find out about new tools or studies, resulting in me writing about them and producing backlinks. While high volumes of social sharing don’t cause ranking, it will correlate to great ranking.
Because there’s not a direct correlation doesn’t mean there’s not an impact, though. If I find a great resource or platform on search, I will share it on my social media accounts. If I discover a tool on social media and share it with my extensive audience, it will likely lead to additional articles and backlinks that drive ranking. So while there’s not a direct correlation, there is an indirect causation that each channel can have on the other.
Utilizing both channels will improve the results of the other. Don’t ignore this opportunity! Here are some great tips from Sprout Social for social media managers to align with organic search engine optimization strategies.
Social Media Sharing is Growing
Parse.ly recently released a report that Facebook has now overcame Google as the top referrer to publishers. This decline is critical for publishers to keep in mind. If you’re pouring all of your efforts into search engine optimization and backlink opportunities, and not developing a great social media strategy, the opportunities to reach new audiences is declining.