What’s the Connection Between Social Signals and SEO?
For years, both search engines and social media have played immense roles in the worlds of marketing, information and traffic. As brands seek new and exciting ways to effectively reach their audiences, both platforms are seen as viable contenders that reach large numbers of people quickly.
Yet for the longest, it has been understood that there is no direct connection between social signals and SEO itself: in essence, that lots of social media activity doesn’t inherently boost your rankings in search engines.
However, there is evidence that this has changed – but what connection actually does exist between the two? Let’s take a peek at how much social shares and signals impact SEO in 2019 and beyond.
The Official Statement
In terms of what most already know, the official claims regarding social signals and search engine optimization remain the same. Simply put, search engines like Google deny that there is any direct effect on SEO from social signals.
Despite Google stating that there is no absolute connection between the two, the story is different with Bing. In Bing search results, social signals are absolutely linked to SEO performance. In a given quarter, anywhere from 15% to 25% of North American search traffic flows through Bing. This means that a strong social media presence can actually bolster your visibility in these specific search results when coupled with a respectable SEO endeavor.
However, those who have spent years pinging links to search engines and content to social media argue that despite no direct connection perhaps existing, there is an effect that is both measurable and meaningful.
A Correlation Based on Evidence
So what exactly does the evidence and research show with regard to social signals and SEO on Google? Multiple studies have determined that there is a correlation between site rank and social signals, showing that the more social media activity a brand has, the higher it ranks in search results. The correlation isn’t exactly weak, either: it’s a very strong correlation that suggests there is more to it than coincidence.
What the evidence suggests is that social signals may not directly relate to SEO for Google, but it can impact other ranking factors that Google does consider. Most notably, greater social media visibility means more sharing, which means more links being earned for your content. As you continue to grow on social media, so does the opportunity for earning links – which definitely do impact SEO outcomes.
Improving Your Social Media for SEO
Now that you’re aware of the correlation, what can be done to further improve SEO performance via social media? Arguably the most important criteria are ensuring social media profiles are fleshed out, posting new and unique content on a regular basis, and focus on content that users naturally want to share.
The end result will be a high-ranking social media presence in social media-specific SERPs related to your brand and a steady flow of content that ensures maximum engagement and visibility (which in turn help build links). Such efforts will automatically improve performance on Bing, but with Google, it will lay the foundation for you to start pinging links in SERPs more prominently.
Depending on the search engines you’re targeting, social signals can directly or indirectly impact SEO performance. Ultimately, much can be gained from cultivating a consistent and active social media presence, so don’t abandon this aspect of SEO planning just because the process may be different than with other SEO factors.