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The role that social signals play in Google ranking algorithms is a hotly debated topic within the SEO industry with many different people holding differing views. It is clear that social signals play some part in deciding the rankings of a website in Google as Matt Cutts himself has confirmed but just how much influence they have is still unknown. Therefore, this article isn’t going to reveal any game changing revelations but instead I will aim to look at how social signals may be measured by Google and how important it is to be socially active in 2013.
A common question that many people ask when thinking about the use of social signals as ranking factors is which social network should I be using? Well the answer is as many as you can as Google seem to take into account Facebook likes, shares and comments as well as Twitter followers, tweets and retweets. You shouldn’t forget to be as active as possible on Google + as well, after all it’s Google’s own baby so they’re bound to be monitoring our activity on there.
It’s all well and good that Google are using social signals as a ranking factor but what is it that they’re actually looking for? If you have taken notice of the not so subtle hints that Google have been issuing with the Penguin and Panda updates you will be aware that Google places a lot of importance on high quality content and trustworthy authorship. Basically they want websites that are authorities in their field to be at the top of the rankings with the authors of their content being a trusted source. Therefore it’s more than likely that they are looking for the same thing from your social networking activities, they want to reward the most influential players within a giving industry so if lots of people are liking/following/circling you and sharing your information or content then Google will count them as a vote of confidence for your site and you as an author.
It is becoming more and more apparent that social networking is only going to become more important in terms of SEO in 2013 and beyond. Many people believe that likes (or their equivalent on other networks) are becoming the new links. The importance of links as a ranking factor may never totally end but it seems likely to diminish as the world now places more importance on the recommendation of their friends on social media sites than searching Google for them.
Whatever your opinion is on the importance of social signals as a ranking factor it’s clear that they do have a role to play and it looks likely that this role is set to get bigger so if you don’t have much of a social media marketing strategy in place you might want to get one asap.
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