What Are Social Signals, and Do They Affect Your Rankings?

Social signals are a powerful tool for businesses, marketers, and content creators alike to measure the success of their posts and campaigns. But what are social signals, and why are they crucial to your online marketing efforts?

Social signals measure likes, comments, shares, views, reviews, follows, and more. By tracking these signals, companies can learn what content resonates with their target audiences. Social signals also provide an indication of how popular a given post is compared to other posts in the same category or topic, ultimately helping you refine your marketing strategies.

But did you know that social media sites can also play a role in your website’s search engine optimization (SEO)? That’s right — social signals can have an impact on your website’s ranking and visibility in search engines. In this article, we’ll dive into social signals and how you can use them to boost your search engine optimization.

Key Takeaways

  • Social signals are actions taken on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest that show engagement with content, such as likes, shares, reviews, follows, and comments.
  • While they’re not an official ranking factor, they can help increase your Google rankings and rankings in other major search engines because social signals are a sign of quality content.
  • Benefits of social signals include increased referral traffic, boosting brand awareness, and promoting positive engagement signals.
  • Downsides of relying on social signals include a lack of consistency with the number of shares, likes, and comments you get monthly. High social media engagement can be tough to maintain on a regular basis.
  • To increase social signals, create quality content, use social sharing plugins, promote your content strategically, claim your knowledge panel, and work with influencers.
what are social signals

What Is a Social Signal?

A social signal is an action someone takes on a social media platform that shows engagement with social media posts and relevant content. This could be a like, share, comment, follow, review, or any other type of interaction on social media channels.

Each of these signals shows that someone found your content valuable and wants to spread the word about it. They’re increasingly becoming an important metric for businesses, as they help evaluate a wide array of factors, such as how well your content and business resonate with your target market. Additionally, by using social signals to identify trends or hot topics related to your core business or industry, you can gain valuable insights and develop better strategies that will allow you to stay ahead of the curve.

Are Social Signals a Valuable Ranking Factor?

While Google has not said social signals are an official ranking factor, it is an indicator of quality content. When content is shared, favorited, and “liked” on social media, it can boost its visibility in the SERPs.

This type of user-generated content signals to search engines that the content is relevant and popular. Content with high levels of engagement from users shows greater credibility and authority to search engines, which will increase the chances of the page being ranked higher. Additionally, having links back to your website from social media can also help build your backlink profile, and backlinks are an important ranking factor.

Benefits of Social Signals for SEO

social signal

Having a strong presence on social media can be incredibly beneficial for your SEO efforts. Let’s explore the pros of social signals:

Increased Referral Traffic

One of the biggest benefits of social signals is that they can drive more referral traffic to your website. Once others reshare your content on social media, it exposes your brand to a new audience and can encourage people to visit your site through organic search rankings.

Boosts Brand Awareness

Social signals also help build your brand’s awareness and reputation organically, thanks to shares from those in your target audience who find your content valuable. The more your content is shared and interacted with on social media, the more your brand will be seen and remembered by others.

Promotes Positive Engagement Signals

A strong social media presence and high engagement rates also help promote positive signals on your web page. This includes social media comments, shares, and likes, which can contribute to a more positive brand image and improve your SEO efforts.

Downsides of Social Signals for SEO

While social signals can bring benefits to your SEO efforts, there are also some downsides. Here are a few of the biggest drawbacks of relying on social signals for SEO:

Not Easy to Get Legitimate Social Shares

Let’s face it; not all social media users will be fans of your content. Even if you create high-quality, informative, and engaging content, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be shared widely on social media. Many fake social share plugins and bots are available, and if you have a lot of social shares obtained through illegitimate means, they might not be doing much to help your SEO.

Instead, fake social shares can actually hurt your SEO, as search engines like Google are getting better at detecting and penalizing websites that use fake social signals and other ranking factors to boost search rankings.

Lacks Reliability and Consistency

Another drawback of social signals is that they can be inconsistent and unreliable. Maintaining regular engagement on social media can be difficult, and it takes a consistent social media strategy. This is especially the case if you’re still a beginner in the marketing world and don’t have many followers or much engagement.

Won’t Move the Needle Much for SEO

Finally, it’s important to remember that social signals are just one factor among many ranking factors that search engines use to determine web page ranking. While social signals can help boost your visibility and drive traffic to your website, they won’t necessarily move the needle much in terms of SEO without other factors in play. If you’re serious about improving your SEO, you need to focus on a wide range of strategies, including keyword research and optimization, high-quality content, and technical SEO.

Examples of Social Signals

Here are just a few examples of social signals that can help improve your SEO:

Likes on Facebook

When someone likes a piece of content on Facebook, it indicates they find it valuable and relevant, and it can help spread the content to their friends and followers. Increased exposure and social media engagement can positively impact your website’s SEO, as it signals to search engines that your content is worth paying attention to.

Shares on Twitter

Increased exposure on Twitter can help boost your website’s SEO by attracting more links, mentions, and comments, which all contribute to a higher ranking in search results.

Comments on Instagram

By tracking comments, search engines can gauge the level of engagement and interest in your content, which can help boost your website’s SEO.

Mentions on LinkedIn

LinkedIn mentions are a way for people to recommend or mention your content on the professional networking platform. Whether a LinkedIn post, an article, or a product, mentions works to increase your content’s social media visibility and exposure. They’re also a valuable social signal for search engines.

Shares on TikTok

When someone shares your TikTok video, it’s a sign they found it valuable enough to show it to others. While social signals are not the most valuable ranking factor, they indicate that you’re creating high-quality content users enjoy. 

Repins on Pinterest

Pinterest repins are a way for people to share and spread their content on the popular image-sharing platform. When someone repins your content on Pinterest, it helps spread the content to their followers.

How to Increase Social Signals

social signals

Now that you know all about social signals, let’s look at how to get more of them. Here are three simple ways to start getting more social signals for your website:

Use Social Sharing Plugins on Your Website

One of the easiest ways to get more social signals is to add social sharing buttons to your website. Many social sharing plugins are available for WordPress and other content management systems, so you should be able to find one that fits your needs. Choose a plugin that is easy to use, customizable, and compatible with the major social media platforms. If you make it easy for others to share your content, you should see an increase in your social signals.

Promote Your Content on Social Media

When promoting your content on social media, it’s important to be strategic and creative. For example, you might try posting a teaser image with a link to your article or hosting a Q&A session on Twitter to answer questions about a trending topic. The key is to get creative, experiment with different tactics, and see what works best for you.

Work With Influencers

Working with influencers is a pricier option, but you can use their social media outreach and established audience to boost your brand and content. However, choosing a micro-influencer will cost less than a macro-infuencer. Remember that many influencers out there have a big following of devoted followers who trust their thoughts and advice. A well-thought-out influencer campaign might result in a flood of social signals when people promote or share your material on their social media platforms.

This increased activity will suggest to search engines that your website’s material is valuable and relevant. Whether you choose an Instagram influencer or someone on another platform, this is a great way to get more engagement.

Claim Your Knowledge Panel

Finally, one of the best ways to create social signals is to claim your knowledge panel on Google. A knowledge panel is a feature that appears at the top of the results bar and displays important information about your business or brand. Claiming your knowledge panel shows search engines that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. To claim your knowledge panel, go to Google Business Profile, create a profile for your business, and verify your information. You can update your profile with important information about your business, including your website, social media profiles, and contact information.

Wrapping Up

Social signals help boost your website’s visibility and ranking in search results. Creating social signals (likes, shares, comments, and mentions) organically can show search engines that your content is relevant, valuable, and worth sharing.

Now that you understand what social signals are, you can work on increasing them for your brand. Whether you’re promoting your content on social media, using social sharing plugins on your website, or claiming your knowledge panel on Google, there are many simple and effective ways to boost social signals for your website.