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Why Social Signals are only Going to get Bigger in Search Rankings

The last time I was involved with search engine optimization, Alta Vista was a player. I was working on my own sites and making a killing by taking advantage of the new world of search engines. Yahoo was making its move to the top. Google wasn’t even a word at the time.

Flash forward to 2007 and social media became my thing. I was able to drive great traffic with the social news sites and started really getting involved the marketing components in 2008. That’s when JD Rucker and I hooked up and started working the various social angles for clients, but he would always handle the search engine components. At the time, I never thought I would get back into SEO, but things have changed since before the Penguin update. We knew it was coming – listening to Google’s Matt Cutts and Bing’s Duane Forrester at the first SXSW I’d ever attended made us realize that the things I was doing in social would soon apply to search.

Fast forward to today. Social signals are a big thing. Many websites are able to make exceptional moves up in the search rankings through social signals alone. Now, rumors are spreading about a social-focused update called Zebra. Chances are good that it’s just a rumor, but the data that we’ve seen shows spikes in social signal influence over search when the signals are real. Those who are buying fake +1s, getting retweets from spam accounts, or inflating their Facebook likes are not seeing the same results that we are.

Social signals are the easiest way for the search engines to get human interaction with pages that they can monitor and utilize in rankings. There is no reason to believe that the usefulness will slow down. What will happen is that they will figure out more ways to sniff out the spammers. They’re already doing it with reviews; those who create accounts and write reviews with no past or future activity end up getting removed.

The point is that the rumors that social signals are losing value in search are being spread by those who are not putting out strong content that is able to get real social shares. Social signals simply make sense. They’ll be effective for the foreseeable future.

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Like” image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Views: 453

Tags: content marketing, search, search engine optimization, seo, social, social media, social signals


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Comment by Louie Baur on January 11, 2013 at 8:09am


Your right that is probably the best way to go. When the internet guru takes off they usually leave you hanging. I like your approach. I let me internet guru go back in 2000 and said never again!!

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 11, 2013 at 8:09am


Ha! Yeah, because you knew how to game it for success!


Comment by Louie Baur on January 11, 2013 at 8:08am


Alta Vista rocked!

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 11, 2013 at 7:47am


I am too glad that they are placing more focus on this stuff. It makes sense and most of the social networks have their butts in gear (able to control SPAM). Historically, they'll never admit it, Google had a hard time with controlling how to measure certain back links (until their PR mechanism), especially since a ton of SEOs were using black hat SEO back link techniques. IMO, at this point, their indexing process has never been smarter.

I tell you guys, what's going to crack me the hell up. All of those crap back links are going to come back to haunt all the groups taking advantage of them. How many people are going to go back to those sites and ask for them to be removed? Yes, there's a mechanism in place for that via your Google Webmaster tools, but that is an AWFUL and painstaking process to have to follow, especially is an SEO group were using a tool like XRumer or ScrapeBox. The latter of the two ranking very well on Google (they've never blacklisted them), almost as if they're opting you to use it only to penalize you if you do. 

Sorry, I got off topic there. Go Social!

Comment by jim leonard on January 11, 2013 at 7:41am

I had my internet guru disappear, Then I let someone else take over and do it, Once again, This person said they were moving on,  Now I let no one do it but me.  Never again will I let someone control that which provides me income.  My ocd tingles at learning all this internet magic, It is one reason why I joined this group yesterday.  

Comment by Tom Gorham on January 11, 2013 at 7:29am

Louie, great article.  Thank you!  As for the conversation, backlinks are downgraded unless they are relevant inbound links.  In fact poor backlinks can actually hurt you.  Like you Louie, I have believed for a long time that Social would become very important to the search engines and I am glad to see it so.  If the goal of Google is to make search more relevant to the searcher, it is only logical they would look at content, interaction and what is being said about companies.  BTW, Alta Vista was once my favorite. ;-)

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 11, 2013 at 7:19am

Nice, please keep me informed! :-)

G+, I mean, obviously Google controls what they want to rank and how. Regardless of what anyone thinks or wants. It's their call and if they decide to use G+ signals and content ahead of Facebook's (I think they already do) so be it. I'll jump aboard that G+ train, actually I'm already on it. :-)

Comment by Louie Baur on January 11, 2013 at 7:17am

I agree the how well is the next part of it. I heard a few people that are hardcore G+ users talking about the future ast they know it but they were not Google employees so I suppose we will have to wait to hear from them. SXSW is right around the corner maybe Vic Gundotra will come out again and tell us some more.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 11, 2013 at 7:16am

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 11, 2013 at 7:12am

Thanks Louie, awesome stuff!

Create interesting content that entices users to interact better on social commentary. Yes, it's being done, but how well? A market on its own. Measuring its success if part of the plan.

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