Social media and SEO: Do social shares really matter for ranking?

The role of social media through social signals in SEO has been the subject of much debate in recent years. Google suggested earlier that social media do not factor directly in their ranking algorithm, but numerous studies tend to prove otherwise. For years, quality backlinks have been the standard bearer for good SEO, even though there are many other factors that have an impact on a website ranking. With different updates to Google’s algorithm in recent years, social signals seem to be emerging as an increasingly significant factor.

The term ‘social signals’ generally refers to all forms of engagement on social media, including likes, reactions, shares, comments, comments on comments… amongst many others. As social signals become more important in the world of SEO, so does the role of social media become vital in the field of digital marketing. Not only do social media bring new followers through online word of mouth promotion, but as social signals have begun impacting search engine ranking, social media has become vital for all websites. Relying solely on SEO is no longer an option.

Social signals and social media have an effect on SEO in a number of ways. The most obvious advantage of a strong social media presence is that it can drive increased traffic to your website. The most significant effect of social signals however is the creation of social links, which are increasingly replacing traditional approaches to link building. Having your website’s links on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn is incredibly important.

The increased role of social signals presents a strong connection between the social media world and the world of SEO. The major consequence of this connection is that content now finds itself in the front lines of digital marketing. Various changes to Google’s algorithm have already made it necessary to create quality content as ‘hacking the system’ is slowly becoming a thing of the past. With the newfound role of social signals on SEO, companies have become dependent on their social media followers enjoying the content they post and interacting with it.

A number of articles on this blog have highlighted the need for quality content in modern SEO. The emergence of social signals as a potential ranking factor only cements this need.

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