Most businesses now have a social media presence in one form or another. With direct access to current clients, prospects and employees, social networks are now an essential medium for the vast majority of brands. But how successful are your social media efforts and how are they affecting your search engine rankings?
Social signals are the reactions or behavior of people in relation to your brand or online presence. Some examples of social signals are:
- Someone retweeting you
- Mentioning you or your brand
- Following you
- Adding you to a circle or list
- ‘Favouriting’ a tweet
It is not known exactly which signals improve search engine rankings or how much of an effect each one has. It is fairly obvious that they do have an impact.
The more people that follow you on Twitter/Facebook and the like, and that are sharing your content, the better you’ll probably fair in Google’s rankings for certain search terms.
The below graph is used by Google to explain how social metrics “impact their brand” within Google Analytics. Although Google do not state exactly which social signals are considered more significant than others, it can be assumed that they are using social signals within their algorithm to determine search engine rankings.
There are also indirect benefits of these social signals too, including:
- An increase in the number of links to your site or article (as more people are sharing your content)
- Reviews of your products or services can increase as more people become aware of, and use, your offerings
- An increase in the number of people visiting your site and reading your content
Numerous tools are available online to track, measure and analyse social signals, such as Google Analytics and Buffer. As social media marketing continues to become more important to businesses, social signals will become one metric that marketing departments should be very interested in.
World renowned brands are also starting to focus on social signals for their marketing strategies. Volvo have been conducting regular ‘chats’ on Twitter, asking their followers to feed back on what messaging works, and what doesn’t.
It is believed that within a couple of years, a strong social presence will be as important as links to your site in terms of how well your brand ranks on Google, etc. With a new social network springing up almost every week, currently it is difficult to predict which ones will offer the most benefit in the future when it comes to the social signals emanating from their users. The safest route for businesses would be, in my opinion, to stick to the big 4: