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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?
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.
If you sell metal pipes for toilets then good luck getting social interest on that one ;)
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.
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?
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 haven't made my mind up about the value of social yet or whether the returns justify the effort required
...or people typing your site name directly into Google, are also influential.
Apologies if this is a silly question, but what "social signals" is Google actually able to see?
Not to mention, there is good money to be made doing the whole social bit as part of a service to offer.
Yep. Activity - identifiable, traceable, recordable activity on a site is the common denominator.