Social signals: How your performance on social media can affect your Google rankings

1st October 2019

Have you ever wondered if your social presence can affect your Google rankings?

Social signals are a hotly debated topic in SEO circles. Do things like the number of times a piece of content is retweeted affect your Google rankings? Does Google prefer content from brands with more social media followers than others?

The short answer is yes! Your performance on social media will affect your organic rankings.

But to understand why we need to dig a little deeper. This post will explain how a thriving social media presence can boost your organic search rankings.

Let’s start with a quick SEO 101.

SEO 101

The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to understand how the Google algorithm works. This knowledge allows content to be optimized and rank higher. Things that affect this algorithm are often called ranking factors. Google keeps the exact number of factors and what they are a closely guarded secret. In general, things like backlinks (number of websites that link to your post) and domain authority are widely accepted as ranking factors.

Whether or not social signals are an official ranking factor, doesn’t matter.

There are plenty of reasons why social signals do matter. Here are some of the most important:

Hashtags are searchable on Google

Users can search for hashtags on Google. Google and Twitter have had a partnership since 2015, so don’t be surprised to see Twitter results at the top of your page.

Tweet carousel

The tweet carousel is a sliding gallery of six tweets displayed in the Google search results. It takes up a decent amount of page real estate, and there are six new opportunities for a visitor to check out your social profile. How do you get one? Start by tweeting regularly and being relevant. Over time Google will notice.

Individual tweets can rank

Even high-performing individual tweets can rank. Often this is when a major news channel or thought leader has retweeted or shared your content.

Social profiles

Your social profiles appear in the search results pages, meaning they form a touchpoint for users searching on Google. For this reason alone, it’s essential that your profiles are highly optimized.

Influencers who share your content

If an industry thought leader or influencer shares your content, you might see a boost in your rankings. Why? It sends signals to Google that your content is highly relevant. Also, more people are likely to read your content and link to it.

Featured snippets

A featured snippet is an automatically generated piece of content that Google pulls together from other sources. Usually, they appear when a user asks a question. Google can even take data from social media posts like from this tweet below. Interestingly featured snippets take up a lot of often appear before the top organic result.

In summary, Google can effectively display whatever it thinks is relevant to a user query. But there is no doubt, being highly relevant on social media will boost your organic traffic.

What does the research say?

Hootsuite conducted an experiment to test the theory of social signals and Google rankings. The results showed that promoting blog posts on their Twitter feed yielded an 11% boost in rankings overall. And with a small paid campaign on Twitter, the lift was 22%

If a post does well on Twitter, it is much more likely that Google will classify your content as relevant and fresh. Additionally, posts that you promote on social are much more likely to gain links from other brands and influencers. This, in turn, will also boost your rankings.

What does this all mean?

It means that an effective social media strategy is one of the best ways for SMBs to boost their organic rankings. Google can display content from social media, meaning it is a vital touchpoint for your users. Social signals do affect your traffic, so don’t neglect them. Get serious about social today.

Key takeaways

Here are the key findings from this post:

  • Don’t spam – only share quality posts
  • Earning new backlinks will boost your rankings
  • Paid promotion has nearly double the SEO benefit of organic promotion
  • Focus on creating and sharing quality content

Have you seen a boost in your organic rankings from your strong social campaigns? Has one of your tweets been featured in Google’s search results? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below. 


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