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The rise of “social signals”

We all know that the currency of the Google results is the number of links a site has. If your site has steadily built up a decent number of links from other sites over the years, it’s probably going to rank more highly than a site which cowers in magnificent isolation from the rest of the web. Google has been locked in a constant battle for years with people trying to “game” the system, but it’s getting better all the time. I know many people think their site ought to rank more highly in Google, but I don’t see many occasions nowadays where I look at the Google results for a search and think “they’re not very good”.

However, despite Google’s sophistication in counting relevant links, and (critically) the importance of the linking site, another factor is coming into play: links from social networking. Mentions on Twitter and “likes” on Facebook have been shown to have an impact on Google result rankings. Some experts are now wondering if these might, in time, become more important than conventional links. After all, using such “social signals” will make the Google results very current (and people like current). Also, it’s just as easy to give the links an importance rating: just examine the number of followers of whoever gives you that Twitter mention, or the number of “retweets”.

The important thing for those of us who operate in areas like widget sales, where there’s not a lot of “social buzz”, is to see this as an opportunity. You don’t need many Twitter mentions or Facebook “likes” to beat other widget manufacturers. Start working on it today.

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