The importance of social signals in search performance has been debated quite often. So how much of an influence do people’s Likes, Shares and recommendations on the social networks have on the SERP results, or do they ever?
Hummingbird Can Process Social Signals Better
Now whatever Google says about how much, or whether, social recommendations affect the results it displays on the search page, it’s fair to observe that with the Hummingbird algorithmic overhaul Google now has all the tools in place to process social signals better since it’s all about the user getting better quality results, closer and closer to what they are actually searching for.
Social Signals are starting to play their part in search engine ranking factors. While there is no arguing that quality content and backlinks from quality sites continue to be the vital ranking factors, social signals and recommendations were already touted to influence rankings way back in 2012. That speculation kept rising in 2013.
Social Network Activities Mattered in 2013
Searchmetrics revealed in 2013 that, in this particular order, Facebook Likes, Facebook shares, Twitter followers, Tweets linked to or mentioning your brands, amount of Google+ Circles and number of +1s are the social signals that have the greatest impact on the search results in Google.
Another factor that suggests that social signals could play an important role is the rise of Google Authorship. According to what Google’s own Eric Schmidt said in 2013, information in the search results which is connected to verified online profiles will receive higher rankings than information that is not, or is not proved to be, created by verified online profiles. This is what Google Authorship and Author Rank are all about.
To establish authorship all you need to do is have a Google Plus profile, add your photo, and link the content you post in your site or other sites or blogs to your Google+ profile using the “rel=author” markup. This creates an online profile for you. The more Google Plus shares and recommendations and even Facebook Likes and tweets the content receives, the greater is your authorship asserted and certified. This gives your content preference when the search with a related query brings up your content among the results.
Google+ Pushed to the Fore
With this move, Google is effectively pushing not only social media as a ranking factor, but making Google+ indispensable. Google’s push to popularize Google+ is also another indication of the importance social signals could place on search rankings in 2014 and the years ahead.
Other Factors Stressing the Importance of Social Signals
There are more trends that advocate the need for incorporating social signals as deciding factors of search results. Consumers are increasingly hanging out in the social media. More and more businesses are attracting consumers and popularizing their brand through the social networks. Moreover, people are likelier to trust recommendations from their friends though their +1s Likes or Tweets. It shows that social signals play a part in building brands and businesses.
However, we need to keep in mind the words of Matt Cutts back in August 2013 when he said that there was no correlation between social signals such as Google +1s and search rankings. He maintained that websites must focus on quality and compelling content which would automatically result in greater social network sharing and visibility. The greater technical capabilities Google Hummingbird has, though, to process social signals have the potential to make the latter a search ranking influencing factor.
Our advice to you is – make your content compelling and get social! Your brand could be built through content in the social networks. It’s where the world hangs out and from which Google analyzes the buzz in the public.