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Social signals don't seem to be very important, yet.
Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4524771
 5:28 am on Dec 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is just an observation, In looking at search results for an issue I'm trying to resolve I noticed that a lot of top ranked pages have no social stickiness while pages ranked 6th onward sometimes have hundreds of tweets and likes and pluses. In fact the top ranked pages don't even have social profiles a good percentage of the time, albeit on my very small scale searching this evening.

If social signals were becoming important I'd have expected to see the very authoritative pages ranked 6-7-8 to do a little better vs the top 3 that don't have a social mention between them. I know there are other factors involved but one could assume that if a page is well mentioned socially it also has natural incoming links, etc. The quality was sometimes better on the pages with social mention too.

Are you seeing any shift in importance from backlinks to social mentions on your site?

 

alexgarrido




msg:4524775
 6:15 am on Dec 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe I am just a conspiracy theorist but in my humble opinion Google is just teassing and testing seo consultants. It is basic entrapment. I think they are intentionally creating confusing algos that might harm good sites in the short term but help them see the black hat seo patterns in the long run.

Just notice it, just after Matt Cutts announced that social signals might play a role you started seeing all kinds of bots spamming all imaginable social platforms. Google is looking at patterns to see what kind of signals are "genuine" and what are fake. Not all social accounts are created the same. An established facebook profile with hundreds of interactions and a long history might be hundreds of time more valuable than 1000 likes purchased in 5er.

Zivush




msg:4524779
 6:21 am on Dec 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think it depends on the amount traffic the site gets from social sites, not the # of likes.
Constant/Stable traffic from various sources may indicate Google that it is an authority site.

mrguy




msg:4524782
 6:32 am on Dec 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, then the last SEO conference I attened in Chicago was full of experts that have no clue what they are talking about then.

If you don't think social is playing a big part of the algo, your probably going to be surprised when the future catches up to you.

Social has been playing a major part for a while now.

You don't actually think Matt Cutts or anybody in Google for that matter is going to come out and tell you just how important the whole social thing is to their plan do you?

After attending that conference, my eyes were opened wider than they already were to the social scene.

Not to mention, there is good money to be made doing the whole social bit as part of a service to offer.

nomis5




msg:4524811
 7:09 am on Dec 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

You don't actually think Matt Cutts or anybody in Google for that matter is going to come out and tell you just how important the whole social thing is to their plan do you?


True, but the opposite may also apply. G would never say that social signals are so conflicting and full of coontradictions that they simply ignore the vast majority of them. Just too difficult to analyse what exactly they mean.

Far easier and more reliable for G to analyse how long people stay on a site, how they move about when on site, if they bookmark it etc etc.

zeus




msg:4525433
 7:11 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dont think social media has that much of a effect on a site, as many thinks.

Rlilly




msg:4525442
 7:48 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think social media signals will keep getting stronger but still having negligible effect at the moment. At the same time I know links are loosing their value daily for SEO and probably worth almost nothing now.

Simsi




msg:4525444
 7:57 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you don't think social is playing a big part of the algo, your probably going to be surprised when the future catches up to you.

Social has been playing a major part for a while now.


Based on observations in my sector, I respectfully disagree with this for 2 reasons:

Firstly, social isn't a useful signal in every industry. If you sell metal pipes for toilets then good luck getting social interest on that one ;)

Secondly, while I think social does play a part and will potentially continue to play a part, it is one of many signals and while it might be significant, probably won't be a major influence.

Finally, my theory on social is that it is only relevant if you choose to get involved. If you try social stuff and get an above-average response for your sector then I believe it helps. If you get involved and get a below-average response, I believe it may harm. If you don't get involved, I personally think the algorithm may simply leave you out of those specific calculations.

taberstruths




msg:4525445
 8:09 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you sell metal pipes for toilets then good luck getting social interest on that one ;)


Honestly, I think that is a false assumption based on lack of creativity. No offense intended. I just had to look at the niche, and think for a second how would I engage people on this level. First there can be a lot of funny pictures about toilets. LOL Secondly there can be some really informative articles on how to use those metal pipes in plumbing that can be a real help to the DIY consumer. Both will get you positive social signals.

Simsi




msg:4525448
 8:23 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Take your point but if someone starts posting those in my Facebook feed then I'm off to find some new friends :-p

taberstruths




msg:4525460
 9:27 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personally I think that Google has started comparing social signals vs. amount of links. If there is too wide a disparity then it may trigger an unnatural link signal. If all of your links are natural, then how can you not have at least some social signals as well?

mrguy




msg:4525461
 9:30 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Based on observations in my sector, I respectfully disagree with this for 2 reasons:

Firstly, social isn't a useful signal in every industry. If you sell metal pipes for toilets then good luck getting social interest on that one

Secondly, while I think social does play a part and will potentially continue to play a part, it is one of many signals and while it might be significant, probably won't be a major influence.

Finally, my theory on social is that it is only relevant if you choose to get involved. If you try social stuff and get an above-average response for your sector then I believe it helps. If you get involved and get a below-average response, I believe it may harm. If you don't get involved, I personally think the algorithm may simply leave you out of those specific calculations.


Guess we'll just disagree then. In numerous verticals I play in, social signals have made a large difference in ranking.

The speaker from Google at SES Chicago a few weeks ago gave a great talk about the future of search and social. Google is very much interested in using social signals in the search algo.

The push to get the whole world into Google+ isn't just so they can say they beat Facebook ;)

Simsi




msg:4525475
 10:22 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

In numerous verticals I play in, social signals have made a large difference in ranking.


Not wishing to sound patronising but I assume that's based on your opinion/best judgement? It can't be proved, right?

Here's something I have at the back of my mind, working on the assumption that 99% of SEO *should be* logic/common sense: Having the social elements added to a site to prompt users to get involved is one thing but if Google wants to give users truly authoratative results, it has to find a way to ensure that it doesn't give a non-authoratative site an unfair advantage over an authoratative site that chooses not to add social signals.

Or put another way, the algorithm has to prove to itself a social signal is natural before it can be trusted.

Personally, I think that's hard. It's sometimes possible I'm sure, but with 100% reliability? Not for me. Which is why I think social will remain a bit-part player in algorithmic terms.

Clarence




msg:4525490
 10:54 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think your a conspiracy theorist lol. I don't know what niche you're in, but the largest social network is almost always with the top ranker.

mrguy




msg:4525498
 11:21 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not wishing to sound patronising but I assume that's based on your opinion/best judgement? It can't be proved, right?


I'm sure you know what happens when you assume?

I've been doing this a long time, and I actually am very good at what I do and yes, I do know how to test and have hundreds of sites to actually test with.

It was not my opinion or best judgement, it was a direct cause and effect.

I never said it was the only player in the algo, but it is a bigger player than they would like you to believe. Just like links were way back in the early 2000s and so called SEO gurus of today were telling people links did not matter on a popular forum back then.

Take it for what it's worth or don't.

I don't really care.:)

Simsi




msg:4525500
 11:28 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

No it's interesting - always like to hear other people's experiences. That's what forums are for. Be boring if we all thought the same thing :)

Out of interest, do you think the better rankings are more down to the fact that you raise awareness of your sites by actively participating on social media platforms or is it more of an effect seen by integrating social media tools into your websites?

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4525513
 2:00 am on Dec 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personally I'm more willing to interact when a site is busy so I'd have to say the authority signals work best on your site but then there are those who never leave their social networks so perhaps both are needed?

That brings me back to my starting point however, are those types of signals needed or are backlinks still superior in terms of actual rankings for your site? Is the gap closing?

I used to think that social networks would come and go but rankings would stay the same. We seem to be seeing all sorts of signals that suggest its rankings that will go and social will take over, every search company has a social network for example, but I'm just not seeing it, yet.

mrguy




msg:4525527
 4:32 am on Dec 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

That brings me back to my starting point however, are those types of signals needed or are backlinks still superior in terms of actual rankings for your site? Is the gap closing?


I personally think in the coming new world order, you are going to need BOTH those signals to rank well and compete in competitive areas.

Panthro




msg:4525642
 8:27 pm on Dec 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Any of you guys think that actual interaction with the site, and not the ranking signals by themselves, is the determining factor?

In other words - does anyone have a site that ranked ok, got a bunch of social signals, got a boost, but has no traffic?

taberstruths




msg:4525677
 8:58 pm on Dec 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I will try to answer a few questions here. Social signals are a factor, links are a factor, and user interaction is a signal. I think what has changed is that links without social signals of some kind is now considered unnatural. How can natural links being built come without some type of social signals? Why would people share your site on social networks if your bounce rate is through the roof. I think they are using all 3 to confirm the validity of the others.

Social signals with high bounce rate and no subsequent linking equals false or manipulated social signals.

Links with no social confirmation and/or high bounce rate equals self made or purchased links.

Panthro




msg:4525764
 3:18 am on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yep. Activity - identifiable, traceable, recordable activity on a site is the common denominator.

muzza64




msg:4525880
 12:38 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Apologies if this is a silly question, but what "social signals" is Google actually able to see?

I mean, they can't see into Facebook to see links and if someone clicks on a Facebook link directly to your site, how does Google get any information about that? Chrome?

Google+ is a different matter as it's their site so links, citations etc, are all at their disposal.

Are we talking about an increase in people searching on your website name? But that could be the result of any kind of marketing activity, in which case Google doesn't know the cause it just sees the new activity.

I have seen traffic rise when we've put more effort into social, but only for as long as we keep the effort up. Traffic searching on our name went up at the same time.

taberstruths




msg:4525889
 1:24 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google started crawling Facebooks Iframe about a year ago. So every link on Facebook is seen by Google. They still crawl twitter, and in my opinion G- is a flop. The chrome browser still sends data on how people get to your site, so that would still show the people coming from Facebook or twitter. For those that use Google Analytics they have that data as well even though they claim not to use it.

muzza64




msg:4525932
 3:51 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

They also claim not to use Chrome data. If they are being completely upfront about Chrome (and I'm not saying they are) and they can crawl Facebook as you say, then Facebook becomes just another website for link building.

But it seems like Google has much more data about links these days, such as which ones do people click, how many clicks do those links generate, etc. and that would have to obtained from something like a browser.

So whether Google is using Chrome data or not, it seems to me that Facebook is just a website like any other where you can benefit from getting the right links naturally and be penalised for links that aren't freely given, rather than a site that has some unique special powers you won't find on other busy, popular websites.

Google+ is different because they have more in depth data so potentially you have more to gain if you do things the right way but more to lose if you try to game it.

Just thinking aloud. I haven't made my mind up about the value of social yet or whether the returns justify the effort required, but I am now beginning to think that social sites are just another website, so the value they could bring depends on the same factors as any other site you might want links from. This is becoming more straightforward in my mind now, but maybe I'm over simplifying?

Simsi




msg:4525950
 5:16 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I haven't made my mind up about the value of social yet or whether the returns justify the effort required


I am in a similar situation but what I am most wary of is the fact that Google has stated it's intent to become a "knowledge engine" and if that involves sending less traffic to my sites, alternatives need to be found and established as early as possible.

Now Facebook is a public company and will invariably have to turn it's attention to innovations that show an ROI, I wonder if it's search engine might be used more down the line. It's always seemed a wasted opportunity to me and though they have stated that they want to remain focused, it's really out of their hands now.

Sand




msg:4526007
 9:37 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think that social signals are necessarily more relevant than other signals. For example, direct traffic, or people typing your site name directly into Google, are also influential.

I can't prove anything for certain, but here are a couple experiences I had:

A few years ago, I had a brand new site that got a mention in a front page article in a huge newspaper. Because newspapers can't link, the mention resulted in tens of thousands of people Googling my website's name within a couple days. That lead to a significant rankings boost that never let up.

I also had the same thing happen on social (different site) where one piece of content got a ton of shares all at once. Across the major social networks, we're talking 20k shares. Again, this was a new site, and again, search referral traffic shot up across the board within a couple weeks.

So I would say, yes, social can have an impact. But I believe that it isn't *necessarily* important if you can demonstrate that same level of interest in different ways.

SevenCubed




msg:4526012
 9:45 pm on Dec 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

...or people typing your site name directly into Google, are also influential.


:) That's why my business cards do not have my website URI printed on them, nor my email address. I want people to explicitly search for me by business name or phone number. It's a very tiny piece of the the overall puzzle but I too have considered it to be of SEO benefit. I think there is a small bit of implied demand to gain from it.

Put together 1000 tiny pieces and backlinks are almost unnecessary for local commercial websites.

johnronaldsmith




msg:4526060
 6:26 am on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

If any website has social stickiness it is not going to harm it, it is always going to be beneficial. If a top ranked website starts social stickiness it will help to spread the information of the website to the large number of audience.

wheel




msg:4526157
 8:50 pm on Dec 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Apologies if this is a silly question, but what "social signals" is Google actually able to see?

That's not a silly question. It's THE question. And the answer is, not a whole bunch. What's social media today? Twitter and Facebook right? Everyone's all humped up about them.

You think Google decided to incorporate crawls (because IIRC, they don't get the twitter feed anymore) from TWO websites run by commercial entities bound to be their competitors, into their algo? Just how stupid do you think these people are?

And if they didn't incorporate data from those two sites, then I'd say their social signals are pretty weak.

And if they're not measuring that, then what exactly is it that you think they're measuring? The amount of bullcrap thrown around about 'social media' signals is astonishing. Nobody really defines what it is they claim to be measuring, and then asks themselves if it actually is likely or realistic to be measuring those signals. Likes on facebook? C'mon, puleeze. The fact is, I haven't seen or heard of anyone who actually can say 'they are measuring this, if I increase this specific thing, my rankings increase'. It's always just vague 'social signals'.

Why is that? Wait, I got it:

Not to mention, there is good money to be made doing the whole social bit as part of a service to offer.

And now we know what's driving all this social media hookum. SEO companies preying on the corporate clueless. No different than when it was 'all about links'.

I don't actually know if they are doing it, but this:
Yep. Activity - identifiable, traceable, recordable activity on a site is the common denominator.

seems like something they can measure, directly, without depending on someone else. But we still don't know how noisy that signal is. And I can provide lots of counter examples. So I think it's still doubtful. I'd provide wiki as an example - that site has to be sending high bounce rate signals all day long. In and out in 30 seconds, never a second page visited or a link clicked. Yet there's the ranking. (so at a minimum, that suggested that *if* visitor behavior is measured, it's only as a boost, and wouldn't seem to act as a negative, i.e. the crappiest bounce rate won't hurt, it just won't help.)

mrguy




msg:4526327
 5:13 pm on Dec 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think this sums up what Google thinks about social.

[blogs.msdn.com...]

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