Using links as an off-the-page ranking factor was a great leap forward for search engines. But over time, for a variety of reasons, links have lost some of their value. Some sites are stingy about linking out. Others block links to help fight spam. And links get bought and sold, making them less trustworthy.
Enter social media. If links were a way for people to “vote” in favor of sites, social media sharing represents a way for that voting behavior to continue. Social signals are emerging as potential ranking factors as search engines determine how to leverage our social interaction and behavior.
For the record, Google has repeatedly said that it’s not using the major social networks of Facebook and Twitter as a means to rank pages. However, conventional wisdom among many SEOs — and our own view — is that social is important as an indirect factor.
Content that gets socially shared can, in turn, pick up links or gain engagement, which are direct ranking factors. As a result, paying attention to social media is important to SEO success.
Sr: Social reputation
Just as search engines don’t count all links equally, they don’t view all social accounts as being the same. This makes sense, since anyone can create a new account on a social network. What’s to prevent someone from making 100 different accounts to manufacture fake buzz?
Nothing, really, other than the fact that fake accounts like these can often be easy to spot. They may only have a handful of “quality” friends in their network, and few might pass along material they share.
Ideally, you want to gain references from social accounts with good reputations. Having your own social presence that is well regarded is important. So participate on relevant social platforms in a real, authentic way, just as you would with your website, or with customers in an offline setting.
Ss: Social shares
Similar to links, getting quality social shares is ideal, but being shared widely on social networks is still helpful. Good things happen when more people see your site or brand.
Again, participation in social sharing sites is crucial. If you don’t have a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page or a Google+ Page you’re missing out. You’re not building up a network that can help spread (aka share) your content, site and brand.
For more information on social media and search results, see the categories below: