In the New Year companies will have to face some familiar challenges as well as some new ones. Somewhere in between the two are social signals. Their significance has been fiercely discussed among SEO experts for quite some time, the debate is divided by one question: what influence do social signals have on the indexing in search engines, such as Google?
Recent surveys provide clear results, showing an increasing correlation between social signals and organic rankings. Marcus Tober, CEO of Searchmetrics GmbH, analysed the signals’ effects on search engine positioning. At the 2012 “SEO DAY” in Cologne and the “SEOkomm” in Salzburg Marcus held a lecture called “Forget links & content - what is still relevant in SEO”, presenting interesting facts and figures.
Marcus and his team carried out a survey from January to October 2012 that showed that Facebook and Twitter are not irrelevant for the rankings. It also indicated an increasing influence of Google+ on the positioning, surpassing Facebook likes, comments, and tweets. Significantly fewer Google+ recommendations are necessary to influence the ranking position compared to other social signals. It can be assumed - regardless of the social network’s popularity – that in the future Google+ will play an even bigger role in website indexation.
Fabian Rossbacher, SEO-programmer and co-founder of 5mal4.com, has also proved that social signals have a substantial impact on search engine rankings. Fabian’s observed that a high website ranking depends more and more on social signals and not only on link building activities.
Google itself has made rather contradictory statements so far. Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, said that so far social signals do not have a significant influence on the algorithms, but did not rule out any indirect influence. Google also announced that in the future social signals will be standard criteria for website indexation.
The bottom line is companies can boost their SEO optimisation with social media activity. Social signals alone will probably not lead to a long-term pole position in the rankings, but combined with classic on-page optimisation you will certainly have an edge over your competitors. Therefore, it is advisable for companies to become acquainted with using social signals so they can best use it to their advantage.