If you’ve been following Google for a number of years then you’ll understand why you need to read between the lines when it comes to information that they put out about SEO.

In 2014, Matt Cutts (former Head Of Spam at Google) claimed that just because your website received a mention on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, it did not mean that Google was able to access it. See the video below for his full explanation.



Many SEO’s interpreted this information in the way that Google wanted it to be delivered, i.e. that any ranking boost from Social is due to correlation not causation.

In other words, your piece of content was so awesome that it got shared and acquired natural backlinks and additional traffic to the site, resulting in a rankings boost.

Matt Cutts is known to be vague in his answers because Google understand that their ranking algorithms are open to manipulation from SEO’s.

If you’re savvy enough to do your own testing however, which is free with Google’s own Analytics tool, then you’ll the results that social signals has and be able to judge for yourself whether it has a direct impact through causation or whether Matt Cutts was right in stating that any impact from social signals is by correlation – in other words, a nice side effect.

And on a separate note, if you don’t have time to do your own testing, then just subscribe to this blog because we do our own in house testing and share the results with you.

I hope you’re taking social media seriously but if you’re not then here’s some of the benefits that social signals can provide to your website:


1. An Increase In Traffic

Every site needs traffic. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s paid or organic, the important factor is that the traffic is targeted, in other words you’ve got a message to market match.

Social signals are simply links that come in from a social media site and which point to a website. These links are no-follow, meaning that they don’t pass on page rank/authority/link juice.

But if you understand White Hat SEO, you’ll realise that a no-follow link still has value in today’s algorithm. In fact, Google expects a percentage of a website’s links to be no-follow. A website with only do-follow links in its backlink profile isn’t natural.

Google pays attention to websites that get a lot of traffic from sources outside of its search engine.

You can see how much traffic your website gets through the Analytics tool – it’ll tell you at a glance how much is organic (through the search engines), how much is from social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.) and how much is direct (e.g. a user’s email list or someone typing your site into their browser).

Google needs to pay attention to what is hot in the news and what is trending. If it didn’t, users would lose interest and that’s why it had to take social media seriously.

A social signal lets Google know that your site is of interest and is being talked about. The value in a social signal comes about when someone with a real profile actually shares your content to their network or following.


2. Authority Links

If your content provides value then it will get shared and acquire links.

Social media sites have huge authority, largely because of the millions of indexed pages in Google (each user profile page gets indexed unless you lock down your settings) and also because of the sheer amounts of links that point to the site.

Creating a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account and then leaving it isn’t enough. You need to optimize your profiles by completing the information on your personal or business profile page in full.

Whilst it’s true that Google doesn’t crawl account from a personal Facebook account, it does crawl and index information from a business account – or a Fan Page.

So Matt Cutts was partly right when he said that Google wouldn’t be able to access your personal information that you share on Facebook but that was only half the truth. If you want to test this, then go into private browsing mode (incognito in Chrome) or use a different browser where you’re not logged in to your Facebook account.

Search for your name in Google using the private browsing/different browser. You’ll see a locked down section of your Facebook profile.

Now search for a Fan Page that you frequently access.

Assuming that the owner hasn’t closed it down by making it secret, you should be able to see the posts that have been made on that Fan Page by finding it in Google and clicking through.

With the high Domain Authority that each of the large social media platforms carry, it makes sense to optimize your profiles on each of these sites and have a link pointing back to your website even if it’s a no-follow.

These links are trusted and if you want to rank high in Google then you’ll need to set these up. Your competitors already have so if you don’t, you’re leaving yourself at a serious disadvantage.

If you’ve got a YouTube video, put link to your website in the description section underneath the video.


3. Branding

Google likes brands, period. If you type in Apple, Amazon or McDonalds into Google, you’d expect the first result to be the major company right? In the past, SEO’s abused exact match domains (EMDs) and managed to rank first in Google just with power that was assigned to an EMD.

Since the 2013 EMD update it’s become much harder to rank at the top of the first page with an EMD. It’s still possible but you have to jump through many hoops and prove to Google that you are a brand and that you deserve to be there.

Using Social to do this is a step in the right direction. Google looks at the number of social signals that point to a website and interprets how many of these are brand signals.

If you’ve got the right amount of traffic, social signals and backlinks pointing to your site, then Google will recognise your website as the brand and put it into the top spot. Once you’re there, you’ll stay there with minimum backlinking effort.


4. How To Tap Into The Social Game

Spending all your time chatting on Facebook to your friends isn’t going to make your website rank higher unfortunately or even get you paying customers. This was a common misconception in the early days of social media.

Instead, you need to be strategic in your efforts. Create some content that is worth getting shared. Whether it’s an article, a podcast or a video, if it provides value then you’ll have a chance of it being talked about and using that content to attract new visitors back to your website.

If your content starts receiving comments, engage in a conversation with those users and show that you’re human and someone that they can relate to.

This is the direction that the big corporate firms are moving in and there’s a good reason for it.

No one likes to deal with a stuffy business. Those days have gone. People want nteraction with other humans; they want to engage in conversation, so give them an opportunity by sharing something of value.

Commenting on your own social media posts as well as niche related forums will help you to drive traffic back to your website. These form part of the user signals that Google looks at.


The key here is consistency.


Do this and you’ll reap the benefits with your SEO.