If there’s one great truth of SEO, it’s that the process of ranking websites has grown increasingly more complicated over the past decade. What was once a basic process with just three key currencies – content, keywords, and links – is now a complicated industry demanding long-term planning skills and incredible creativity.
Those three currencies have been complemented by several new additions to the SEO world: social signals. Social signals include Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and a variety of other signals of influence that are now a major part of building a long-term, stable SEO asset.
Leading SEO software company SEOmoz has covered social signals before in great detail, demonstrating a real correlation between social influence – likes, followers, and such – and rankings. Even Matt Cutts, Google’s head of SEO, has remarked on the importance of social signals for SEO.
The simple truth is this: having an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks will reward you with a more powerful brand and a better presence in the search engine results pages.
Let’s look at the key benefits of building social signals for your website, from both an SEO standpoint and a general marketing standpoint:
Social signals build inbound links to your website. Every Twitter profile that follows your own, for example, builds PageRank to your company’s Twitter profile, which in turn builds PageRank to your website. As such, a modest investment in social media can drastically help with your SEO efforts.
Social signals give you a powerful advantage if your website is ever subject to a manual search quality review. Google has invested heavily in technology to remove anonymous, low quality websites from its index. Having a genuine social profile shows that you’re a real company, not an anonymous face.
Social signals give your website influence and social proof. If a new customer stumbles upon your website, they’re far more likely to order if they can see that you have hundreds of Twitter followers and happy Facebook fans. In a lot of ways, social followers are the new web’s version of the testimonial.
Social signals inspire SEO activity. If your company is a superstar on Twitter or Facebook, it has a great promotional avenue for generating links to blog posts, white papers, and other important promotional content.
Now, some businesses have seen the advantages that social signals offer and tried to spam their way to success. This typically takes the form of buying Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and other key social currencies.
Here’s why it won’t be a successful strategy: real social followers market for you, and a fake social presence gains you all of the worthless aspects of a social following, but none of the beneficial ones. Sure, you have the numbers, but you don’t have the huge promotional power than those numbers can do for you.
When it comes to social signals, the best way to build your company’s influence is to tackle the issue organically. Prepare great content, market it naturally, and enjoy an incredible boost to your SEO efforts and your company’s public brand.