wheel - 4:58 pm on Dec 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
A correlation study at SEOMoz shown a statistically significant connection between social sharing and mentions and rankings across a range of niches.
That being said, the study also appropriately noted that it was the chicken or egg phenomenon - were the sites more socially shared because they were inherently higher quality and more relevant, or were they socially shared, and because of that, ultimately received higher scores in search.
As you noted, correlation <> causation. And personally, when I look at it, I tend to believe that it's not causation. The rankings are causing the social media presence, not the converse.
And with an organization as strong on SEO as SEOMoz, the fact that they left the correlation<> causation link unproven is a valid reason to be a conspiracy theorist. if they could've proven social media could cause higher rankings, I'd really expect that they would've. But they didn't.
One thing is for sure - social media helps to spread high quality content both on the website and off, which can lead to better performance.
Actually, that's not for sure at all. In fact, other than in exceptions, I don't agree at all. It breaks almost every 'rule' that I know of for most business' marketing plans. People aren't going to social media to research purposes or purchase purposes, and people aren't buying as the result of social media recommendations. Yeah, there are exceptions, but that's all they are.
far better to promote and advertise online where people are actively seeking and researching your products and services, rather than some vague garbage dumpster of general content.
If you're going to spend time doing promoting outside the search engines, targetted and relevant spots are going to serve far better results. and outside of that, I'd imagine stuff like targetted magazine ads or radio spots will still to better than social media.