Social Media is no longer a stand-alone platform for staying in touch with people you care about. Or honestly, probably more people you don’t care about. It’s a big business platform where people not only connect with one another but the products and services they use on a daily basis. Before getting into the full conversation we should define the term social signal. Big Commerce uses the following definition: “Social signals refer to a webpage’s collective shares, like and overall social media visibility 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.”

While search engines don’t allow signals from social media to directly affect rankings there are many ways in which social media activity can help or hinder rankings on SERPs. First, engaging prospective customers via social media can drive traffic back to an official website and higher volumes of traffic makes the website look more authoritative to a search engine crawler.

Second, social media profiles rank in search engines. It is likely that when you Google a popular business their social page will take up space on the SERP along with their actual website. Again, more eyeballs, more traffic, which hopefully results in search engines giving your site more authority and increasing organic rank.

Next, one of the most important ranking attributes is external linking. At first, the idea of external linking can seem counter-intuitive. After all, you are encouraging consumers to click away from your content and page. However, linking to trustworthy material helps convey authority for SEO purposes. Original content should strive to be high quality and linkable cwhile sites should also be looking for credible content to link out to. The sharing of content on social media platforms increases the likelihood that other sites will refer back to the content with backlinks. Brafton lends the tip, “Craft high-quality content to post on social media. People are more likely to link to content they want to read and share themselves.”

Last, but definitely not least – different engines are partial to different social media activity and platforms. Again, states that Bing looks at the social authority of users, like how many followers an account has, when ranking while Google is naturally partial to Google+ users. While Google is the main player in the SEO landscape it is important to consider all search engines when formulating your social/SEO strategy.

While social media does not have a direct connection to ranking on SERPs it certainly has an influence. As the number of social media users continues to rise to even more epic proportions it is likely that social signals will become more influential when crafting an SEO strategy. By producing reputable content and taking advantage of the multiple platforms available businesses can continue to increase SEO results through social.

-Sydney Jones