We hear a lot of confusing things about SEO nowadays.
Here’s the problem, in brief: there’s more crap now than ever before.
It accumulates and somehow multiplies. Old articles still float around that aren’t applicable anymore. Outdated eBooks that are still considered “epic” resources. Forums with people still preaching the same things from 8 years ago. Old courses on Clickbank (and other affiliate networks) that are still being pushed by affiliate marketers to those new to Internet marketing.
I talk to a lot of my readers and in most cases where we do discuss SEO, I’m shocked to hear about the myths that they actually think are true because some guru said it. Why did the guru say it, is what I want to hear next. And of course, when he said it, because that matters just as much in this age.
Still, I totally understand how easy it is to fall into these traps. Because it’s not you, really: it’s the Internet!
It’s not your fault!
I came from the same place. I had to learn most of it on my own.
Trials and errors, getting penalty after penalty.
I had to test things and work my way up to know what I know today about SEO. Let me tell you: a lot of what I know now isn’t what I initially believed. All those myths, like I said. Those claims floating around the space.
Today’s post is about one of the most common of these claims nowadays. It’s about the statement that SEO isn’t really affected by social shares.
I call baloney.
The Truth About The Impact of Social Media as a Major “Ranking Factor”
I’m sure a lot of people will refer to Matt Cutt’s video about how it isn’t part of the ranking algorithm.
Well, remember what I said earlier about how there’s different pieces of content out there that can cause confusion? Check out this next video, for example.
Yeah, besides Matt looking younger in that video (darn employers overworking him), he practically said what seems to be the opposite from the first video, even if it’s some years apart.
Both of these videos are still floating around the webspace. That’s why a lot of people are confused about SEO facts.
Some see the new video, some see the old one. Some see both. Include the other stuff you see when you search in Google…
I remember seeing a post by Brent Carnduff back then. He said something along the lines of this:
Besides the SEO checklist post, the others did not gain any sort of traction, though they got pretty good numbers for social shares.
This supports the contention that Social Share Signals are NOT a direct ranking factor.
Obviously, the actual content and its type will still have effects on how something is shared. However, for this test, I wanted to see if purely social signals could move moderately competitive keywords.
Social Signals as an Indirect Ranking Factor
We saw that we got results with the SEO checklist post in our experiment.
We focused on highly relevant people and companies, then branched out to bloggers in the space. At the end of 2 months, we got 37 referring domains to it even before we started reaching out for backlinks using some of our go-to link building strategies. We got offers for reposting our content, we got cited, we got linked to from some really great and relevant sites.
Bottom line is this: we got free links!
Result: We got to page 2 for a competitive keyword. Indirect effect? Definitely. Social Signals have an indirect ranking factor when used right.
One of my fav SEO’s out there, AJ Kohn, said this in his blog post:
“It’s not the actual social activity that matters, but what happens as a result of that activity. One of the best things that can happen is if your content is seen by creators, the 1% of users who create all the content floating around the Internet.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
You need to get in front of those content creators to increase your chances of getting links. It just so happens that one of the easiest ways to get in front of others now is to get on social media.
Takeaways and Actionable Steps
- Social Signals do NOT directly affect your search rankings. Stop worrying about getting as many likes & tweets as possible from anybody you can get ahold of. Do not buy Tweets, Likes, Pins and +1’s, because they won’t return your investment appreciably.
- Social Signals DO affect your search rankings indirectly. Focus instead on getting in front of those with audiences that have “content creators” so you can increase your potential for links.
- Create content that’s better than the most successful one currently out there. Use a tool like BuzzSumo or just Google your keyword and see what’s out there. Take notes and come up with a strategy on what type of content works already and do it better.
- Do outreach work – AKA, promote your content. Reach out to people. Most of them won’t bite! Kidding aside, people are naturally helpful and will usually do one of these things: share it, link to it or both. Plus you have a new potential relationship that you can build on. It’s a Win-Win for you.
- Focus on Influencers First – They are usually the ones with the biggest percentage of followers that create content about the niche you are in so put in the time to reach them. Skip the clever “Outreach Strategies” when reaching out to Influencers. Chances are, they read the same posts you did to improve outreach. Plus they get bombarded with the same outreach templates daily. “Would you mind if I send the link over to you?” – You’ve probably gotten one of those recently. Be real, be you & respect their time.
- Once you get a lot of social shares, start approaching big publisher sites if they haven’t approached you already. – Show them your post and numbers. They are always on the lookout for content that works and they will be happy to re-publish it for you. You’ll be visible to even more people. Don’t forget to make the most of it by building your email list.
How about you? What’s your take on social signals as part of SEO? Have you seen any direct effects? Have you tested it?
Please share your results in the comments below!