This is a topic that a long time ago. There is a lot of information out there, but often it is contradictory and it is not too contrasted. Of all the forms, that will not prevent you from having my opinion about the weight of social signals in SEO and where the shots go. Put on the reading glasses we’re going.
What are Social Signals?
I like to start at the beginning let’s clarify this sounds a bit abstract. This type of signals are directly related to the engagement and the reach of the links that a brand diffuses through the different social networks.
We talk both about the direct reach that translates into clicks, reference traffic (and authority off) through links, as well as the expanded potential that it represents due to the dimensions of the community. Summing up a lot but we could say that the Social Signals are the reflection of the popularity of a brand in the form of interactions and times in which its contents are shared.
Do the Social Networks position?
For these things it is best to ask Google directly. At the time (2016) Matt Cutts, who was already quite up to what does not sound of the question of yore made a video in which he addressed the issue. Specifically this:
In case you do not feel like watching the video, what comes to tell Tauro of Michigan, is that no. The justification is quite reasonable and has a little bit of reproach to Las Redes. On the one hand, they hide that this authority is extremely volatile and that it can radically change from a crawl -the fruit of the interaction between profiles- to the next one by things like blockades, sensitive loss of followers, eliminated content ….
facebOn the other hand, it refers to a technical issue precisely related to tracking that, of course, if your robots face blockages and can not access, there is simply no way to index anything with which they are not going to bother you too much: what they can track will index it like in any other page.
Correlations, causes and effects
Ok, so if they do not position, why are these three hundred and fifty words? Well, to give a context to what I will explain next. Patience please. Matt says verbatim that the social signals are not part of the ranking factors of the algorithm, but surely they do not add authority to a domain?
Cutts states that there is no correlation between a page with strong signals coming from different platforms. It also says that when we see a pattern in which a site with many followers also has low positions in the SERPs there is no causality, that they can even be opaque signals for Google that they can not access and, consequently, that all success is in the content that is so good that people link it en masse from its thousands of blogs with a lot of authority.
It seems too much to believe that Google is not going to use that information to contextualize the activity, authority and identity. The funny thing is that there are many SEOs that do not quite believe it at all. You can not blame them because Google spends their lives putting goals between their legs. The really interesting thing about the SEO community is that, when they do not have a clear idea, they resort to the scientific method and propose experiments to try to get rid of doubts.
One of the most complete studies that have been done to date is this Cognitive SEO about 23 million shares even if it already has some time (there are many references to Google+ that may rest in peace). It’s a bit more than considerable, so I’ll summarize some of the key points:
- On average there is an inversely proportional relationship between the ranking and the dimension of the presence in networks (likes, shares and comments on Facebook, Pinterest and LnikedIn since they could not include Twitter)
- The social signals coming from Facebook are especially strong in the case of the TOP 4.
What is the Social Signals insurance?
First of all they represent a source of traffic for themselves in addition to promoting other channels (and this really matters to Google). Having good social profiles capable of helping push the rankings indirectly.
For starters, the profiles are usually positioned for branded searches which (as if that were not enough) also helps us protect those SERPs from traffic that we could lose in the case of having competitors by our brand keywords or even “shield” some rankings before possible reputational incidents.
Greater exposure together with quality content also means more possibilities of getting links. The content can be of an enormous quality but if you do not find the form and the audience to make it dynamic if it is going to reach anyone, logically, you will not get anyone to refer you as a reference.
And finally, one never knows, that right now they are not a ranking factor and it is not expected in the short term that the algorithm will weigh them but things change all the time. What is crystal clear is that help do help in general to all your digital strategy so you do not lose anything to take care of them.