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Social Signals are Not a Ranking Factor

Matt NeSmith

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There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether or not social channels like Facebook and Twitter have an effect on ranking. The myth is that if your post has a lot of likes, favorites, retweets, or shares that this will improve the ranking of that page in the SERPs. However, this is not true.

What you are seeing is correlation, not causation. The likes and shares are not causing the ranking. Rather, the article or posting on the social channels is popular because it is valuable. This value is also reflected in the SERPs because Google or the other search engines see the same thing.

In a nutshell, a page that has a lot of value in your social channels will most likely also have a lot of value for organic search.

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of the web spam team said the following in his video that answered the question, ‘Are pages from social media sites ranked differently?’

“…as far as doing special, specific work to sort of say, oh you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithm.”

Another issue he points out with social profiles and using them as a signal is that they change frequently, and with Google indexing finite points in time, it’s hard to use social signals as a concrete source.

Watch the full video here for the complete rundown.

This doesn’t mean you need to stop engaging in social media. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Creating value in your social channels bolsters your brand and helps to build awareness and engagement with existing and potential customers.

Sharing your expertise with your followers also increases your exposure and ability to gain backlinks. For example, if one of your posts is shared or retweeted, someone can come along, realize the value of that post, and share the link from their own site. While this sharing on Facebook did not result in a ranking bump, the resulting link from another site will.

  1. Garrett Donn says:

    Thanks for this post, Matt. I argue a lot with others whether or not liking, and post on social media sites affect ranking. I side with you!

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