Does Google use social signals?


Does Google use social signals?

There’s a lot of debate whether social signals have an impact on SEO but does content have a better chance of ranking on Google if it has more social signals like likes, retweets and shares? Will it out rank similar content that has no social presence?

Google has stated that content will rank highly if it is good quality, which they define as an original, well written piece of content, contain a decent word count, with relevant internal links, a power headline, no grammatical or spelling errors and that is optimised for the mobile user.

This type of content will naturally achieve more social signals, as people like to share good content.

But do social signals have any direct impact on its position within Google?

Facts are a bit sketchy on this subject but most agree it doesn’t have any direct impact on SEO, but why has Google chosen not to incorporate these powerful social tools within their search algorithm?

Many believe Google are unlikely to make social signals an SEO ranking factor due to the fact social media signals can be easily manipulated and as Google doesn’t have any control over these social networks, they wouldn’t be able to penalise websites for manipulating the algorithm.

This basically means social signals can’t be trusted to represent the quality of content simply because they are too easy for spammers to manipulate. 

Obviously social media can be used to improve SEO, by using other SEO factors such as building links naturally from those who have found the content through social media which Google will see as an endorsement of your content; however social media has no direct impact on SEO.

Back in January 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts stated that social signals are not taken into account, yet there have been rumours recently that Google has begun to start moving in that direction and are slowly including social signals as a ranking factor as well as engagement metrics.

However there is no proof of this yet. This speculation probably comes from a Google announcement earlier this year when Google stated that Tweets will once again begin to appear in Google’s real-time search results, after Google and Twitter made a deal.

This partnership with Twitter is still being rolled out for mobile users in the US, with reports that this will expand to desktop before being introduced to other countries over the next few months so don’t expect to see Tweets within Google’s searches just yet. But although Tweets will be visible on the search engine results page, this still doesn’t mean Twitter social signals will have any impact on your websites rankings.

All this means is that your tweets in the future, as long as they have been optimised with relevant keywords and hashtags, could be found on Google. Although it is still unclear how this is generated.

In conclusion, it is safe to say for now, that social signals aren’t used within Google as a ranking factor and your social media efforts should be focused on raising brand awareness and expanding your reach rather than for SEO purposes. 

Luke Stanley