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Social signals, and how they impact your content’s SEO

Social signals are mainly online actions done by users while using their Facebook, Twitter etc identity. They are, in other words, Facebook likes or YouTube comments that add a layer of opinions to the most interesting, relevant or just funny webvideos, news articles or status updates.

There are roughly three categories of social signals:

  1. like, favorite, vote, G+: a lightweight social signals that shows social proof ("if others like me like it, I will probably like it too)
  2. comment, reply, review: powerful because of the impact of peer recommendations on other people's purchase intentions
  3. share, (re)tweet, forward, embed, (re)pin: very powerful way of spreading content through the network effect

Social signals (mostly Facebook, Twitter and Google+) are now a very relevant factor in Google search results.

Facebook and Twitter signals correlate as follows with higher rankings in the U.S.:

From Social Media, Backlinks and Classic SEO: U.S. and UK SEO Ranking Factors 2012 @ blog.searchmetrics.com:

[Facebook] ‘Shares’ appear to have the strongest association, followed directly by the number of backlinks in the overall summary. Twitter is far behind these values but is still the 6th strongest metric in our analysis behind Facebook and the number of backlinks. A note on Google+: analyzing Google +1s with a Spearman correlation, we found a significant result of 0.41. From this we can assume that the quantity of +1s has the strongest correlation of any of the metrics analyzed in the study.