Are Social Signals Affecting SEO?

Social media is an integral part of our personal and professional life. Many of us use the various channels for marketing and have thus gained good experience. This often raises a question that no one can really answer so far: are social signals influencing the ranking in the search engines? Does it benefit my positioning on Google if I use a lot of social media channels, have a high number of followers or a lot of interactivity?

These questions are discussed again and again and somehow there is never a satisfactory answer. So far it has been said by many people that social signals have no influence on SEO – but there are also studies that say otherwise. They show a connection between social media and website rankings. But can you believe them?

Actually, it would be logical that the likes, pins, etc. have a positive influence. Finally, this indicates that users talk about the website or the product / offer. And that suggests a relevance, which in turn is important for search engines. Every reaction is a kind of recommendation, much like a backlink. But how does Google see it now? Matt Cutts, who served as Google’s Head of Webspam Team, has been on the subject again and again in recent years. He said in 2012, for example, that backlinks are more important than social signals, but you should not lose sight of the latter, because things could change in the future. In 2014 he announced in a video that the profiles in social networks would not affect the search results, as it would not be technically possible.

In 2015, however, there was a change when tweets reappeared in Google’s search results, bringing social signals to visibility. After that, there were always statements that denied a connection, but also left open whether it will eventually exist. SEOs know these vague statements from many areas and therefore test themselves around again and again to draw conclusions. And there were some interesting cases where for example a Facebook post went viral and the associated blog post in Google landed at the top of the search results. The same was true for Reddit activities. Others confirm this connection, but also ask the chicken and the egg question. Did the good SERP result come about because of good social signals, or was the site just so good that it achieved a great ranking and was then widely shared in social networks?

This question remains open. However, the fact is: social media activities bring visitors and, at best, backlinks. That alone makes it worthwhile to be active there.