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Social Signals and Search Engine Rankings: An Indirect Relationship

August 22, 2014

When the average web user performs a Google search, they’re likely to click on the first few results to find the information they seek. Maybe they’ll look at a second page of results if they're really thorough, but most people won't, and even the most curious of web searchers probably won't make it to the third or fourth page. If you want your website to earn clicks, traffic, and ultimately sales, therefore, it’s essential for it to turn up high on search engine rankings. But how can you make your site come up early on the list?

The popularity of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ might lead the average web user (and even the average business person) to think that more mentions and activity on these sites will lead to higher search engine rankings. However, this would be wrong. Social factors do not directly impact where a website turns up in search results. In fact, even the heads of Google have confirmed this to be the case: there is no direct relationship. However, social factors do have an indirect correlation to search engine rankings.

Confused? You’re not alone. While it’s true that there is some parallel between social factors and the search rank of a web page, there are a few other factors that businesses should focus on to get their site high in the rankings.

On-the-Page and Off-the-Page

When determining a web page’s search engine ranking, on-the-page and off-the-page factors are the most influential. On-the-page factors include intrinsic things like the quality of the page’s content and titles, the quality of the links provided, and the site’s overall architecture. Off-the-page factors are more extrinsic: the overall quality, trustworthiness, and authority of the site, as well as its country of origin. Web pages that rate fairly high when it comes to on-the-page and off-the-page factors are typically high in search engine rankings.

Not all factors are positive influences, however. Violations can negatively impact a site’s ranking. These include things like pages that are ad-heavy, especially near the top, as well as low quality content. Paid links — that is, links to the pages that were purchased by the site owners — will also lower a site’s ranking.

The Social Media Correlation

While on-the-page, off-the-page, and violation factors directly affect rankings, social signals do have an indirect correlation. Here’s how they work: a company that has a solid social media presence, with tweets that get retweeted frequently, Facebook posts that get liked by several hundred people each, and lots of followers on Google+ will likely rise in the ranks of search engine results. Why? Because these signals tip off search engines that this is a company that customers truly like, have faith in, and would recommend to others. Traffic is driven to their site, which in turn indirectly boosts their authority, or their off-the-page factor.

These days, it’s not hard to convince any company to have a strong social media presence, though many focus solely on Facebook. However, followers and +1s on Google+ do have more of an impact than Facebook and Twitter activity. (This is not totally surprising, of course, as it’s natural to expect Google to look at its own social network before it looks at others when determining rankings.) It’s also been shown that adding images, having simple contests, and asking followers for votes or opinions all boost search engine rankings even more than plain text.

Adeo: We’re Internet Specialists

Working the factors to raise a company’s rank is a delicate art. If you’re looking for ways to improve your company’s search engine ranking, let us help you. At Adeo Internet Marketing, we specialize in search engine optimization (frequently referred to as SEO) and increasing your web traffic. Give us a call today at 877-841-5386 today to learn how we can improve on-the-page, off-the-page, and social factors in order to drive visitors to your business.