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What are social signals? How social media impacts SEO

Definition: Social signals refer to a webpage's collective shares, likes and overall social media visibility as perceived by search engines. These activities contribute to a page's organic search ranking and are seen as another form of citation, similar to backlinks.

Social media is now more than a messaging and acquisition channel: it directly impacts an online store's SEO. This makes it more important than ever for ecommerce operations to build a cohesive social media strategy that focuses on promoting high-value campaigns, sales and products.

Social signals and SEO

A search engine's chief aim is to provide high-quality, relevant content to users. Search engines gauge quality in large part by how frequently a URL is seen throughout the web, and as more web communication has moved to social media, Google and other search providers have integrated social signals as a ranking signal.

Google's partnership with Twitter, which added tweets to search results, is further evidence of the growing significance of social media in search rankings. Relevant social signals include:

  • Number of tweets and retweets, and the popularity (followers) of the people tweeting

  • Facebook shares

  • Google +1s.

  • Mentions on community sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Tumblr also have an increased impact on SERP, according to Search Engine Journal.

Increased social signals indicate good domain authority and demonstrate a URL's value. When large numbers of users share and like a page, it indicates that the page is genuine and contains substantive or entertaining content. Search engines can sometimes lag behind the lightning fast trends inherent in the social media universe, so tapping into that pulse is important.

Increasing social signals

Because so much sharing now takes place on major social media platforms, social signals may become as important to SEO as time on page, editorial linking and content quality. For businesses looking to raise their search rankings, it indicates that a comprehensive social media strategy might be in order - in addition to all of the usual SEO tactics. In other words, strategies designed to increase social media engagement can also raise your website's search engine ranking.

First and foremost, strong content is key. Valuable, entertaining or informative content always engenders more positive interaction than blatant or spammy advertising. Some tried and true strategies for turning up the volume on your social signals are:

  • Post daily: Keep your brand at the top of social media news feeds.

  • **Use images:**Images greatly increase interaction rates for all social media types.

  • Listen: Hear what people are saying about your brand and respond to critique in a constructive and positive way.

  • Monitor: There are several free social media marketing apps which track shares, re-tweets, likes and keywords associated with your brand.

  • Contests: contests and giveaways are a great way to increase interest in your brand.

  • Partnerships: Share links and produce original content with other popular brands.

  • Cover all the social media bases: Produce content for all of the top social media sites.

Social signals are yet another metric in the already complex and mysterious field of SEO. White the major search engines are black boxes, it's inevitable that social media chatter has an effect on a website's popularity. Increase social media engagement and your site may rise to the top of the ranks.

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