There is always a debate about whether social media signals are a ranking factor. Recent events such as the display of LinkedIn posts in Google Discover or the introduction of Perspectives have revived these speculations.
According to Industry Studies
A study by Hootsuite found that being active on social media, both with regular posts and paid promotions, can boost your website’s rankings. Even if you don’t spend money on your Facebook or Instagram posts, it can still be good for your brand. The study also shows that getting lots of likes and comments on your social media posts can make your website perform even better.
- Matt Cutts, a former Google engineer, has shifted his stance on the issue over the years, initially stating no impact in 2010, changing to a positive view in 2015, and later expressing uncertainty.
According to Google
The question of whether social signals directly impact rankings remains a topic of debate. While there is evidence for a possible connection, the precise nature of the relationship remains unclear.
While the correlation between social signals and Google SERP ranking position is extremely high, Google’s official stance (which has kept fluctuating between yes and no) is that social media is not a ranking factor!
However, websites that continue to rank high in Google SERP also have high social signals and my guess is that although the number of likes and shares a post or a page gains does not have a direct connection of visibility, quality social media content with more links is going to be a positive factor, by generating links, direct traffic to relevant web pages and searches for related organic and branded KWs promoted through the SM posts
What Should You Do?
Well here’s my stance:
Building a strong online presence is crucial for brands in today’s digital landscape. While social media platforms offer incredible potential for brand building, link diversity, referral traffic, and virality, one crucial factor often goes overlooked: the need for social signals.
I think the theory of how Social Media impacts SEO has changed and evolved significantly over time, particularly with the introduction of Social Shopping/MarketPlaces.
I am a firm believer that Free and Organic Shop/Store listings on Social Media platforms can have an impact on SEO because it takes a lot of authority to actually own and operate one of these Social Shops.
If Google sees that you are formatting your products in a way that makes it easier for them to interpret the content of your product/services/offering, you will be promoted.
My Experience: Social signals have SOME impact on SEO
They do, however, have some impact on rankings.
Here’s what I learned first-hand from an experience I ran at my former agency.
- We created a 14,000-word article on the topic of SaaS marketing. It covered literally everything related to the topic – channels, tactics, case studies, etc.
- We promoted the hell out of it on social media. Reddit, Hacker News, told my mom about it, etc.
- The post got, if I’m not mistaken, 10,000+ traffic within the first 2 weeks.
- The post shot up in rankings over the next 2-3 months, getting to page #3 of Google for “saas marketing”
- A very big reason for such a fast ranking on a super fresh website, I think, is that a TON of people were Googling for this SPECIFIC SaaS marketing guide. So, they look up “saas marketing” or some variation of the topic, exclusively click our post, and read that over everything else.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been in SEO for a while or you’ve already done some research, you’ve probably come across claims that social signals are an SEO ranking factor. That’s not true, at least according to multiple statements from Google’s spokespeople.
But even though Google doesn’t take social signals into account in its ranking algorithms, it still makes sense to keep improving them. In fact, many businesses can significantly improve their SEO by putting more effort into their social media content distribution.