Social signals can contribute to SEO performance, lately, I’ve been fielding more and more questions about how. Most links that come up via social media also come with the “nofollow” attribute. So it would seem at first glance that they can’t do anything for your search engine rankings. I have found that this is an overly restrictive view. There are actually tremendous benefits to be had from boosting your site’s social signals. Here are some of the ways I feel that social signals can help with your site’s search engine performance.
Increasing Domain Authority
I’m hardly alone in recommending regular content publishing as a strong optimization strategy. If your fresh content comes with a host of tweets, pins, and other social mentions, it will rapidly boost your domain authority. If the role of social signals in Google ranking is hard to decipher, the same isn’t true for domain authority. More authority is always a good thing, and social signals will help you build it.
I’ve tested this myself by using Facebook ads to make a particular page more prominent and boost its authority. I generated plenty of likes and quite a few shares – some decent social signals. This increased the search ranking of the site hosting that page within a week. I’ve repeated this test a number of times. In every case, increasing a page’s social notoriety led to a corresponding increase in search engine rankings. The first-hand work I’ve done is more than enough to convince me that cultivating social signals is a viable SEO strategy.
Off-Page Social Signals
An incoming link from an authoritative site is always a good thing in SEO terms. What happens when you compare an authoritative link from a socially-inactive site to one coming from a site with lots of social signals? Again, I’ve seen that social signals make a measurable difference – the more likes and followers an account gets, the better. When you get a link from a page that’s heavily shared and liked, Google considers this to be a strong positive indicator of trust and quality.
I have become a strong advocate for cultivating social signals. I feel it’s always important to put this effort in the proper context. Good signals are great, but they’re not a suitable replacement for relevant links in high quantities. Don’t make social signals your sole linking strategy. It’s still more important to network within your niche. Take your place as an active member of the authoritative community.
So, this is the bottom line: Social signals are useful, but they’re only one part of a larger recipe for SEO success. Chase them by all means, but make sure you’re also employing more traditional strategies for improving your search engine performance.