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Here’s Which Social Signals Matter for SEO

James Parsons • Updated on April 30, 2024
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Social signals are organically-grown, digital word-of-mouth that comes by way of likes, tweets, pins, shares, reviews and backlinks. These actions prove that users are engaging in your content, therefore creating a legitimacy for those all important search engines. Basically, social signals give search engines a human touch.

The importance of social signals in SEO is continuously growing. Google is consistently working to make their search engines route users to the most authentic content. Because of this, savvy SEO marketers must keep their content fresh and convincing. The best way to do that is to show interaction with other users. This is where social signals work to increase your ranking.

People spend more time on social networking sites than they do on search engines. Not only do these social signals place your page higher in the search rankings, but they are also incredibly useful in building brand awareness and understanding your audience or customers.

Any online action that shows a user engaging in your content is a social signal. While there are tons of avenues to create such signals, the five most important sites for SEO marketing are Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube and Pinterest.


When it comes to growing an online presence, Facebook is an invaluable resource. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on social media for information, the information found there becomes more valuable.

The search engines recognize the importance of social media and use some of the information to measure the value of the content. Shares, likes and comments increase the commodity of online content, therefore increasing search engine ranking. Basically, the more user interaction, the more you can expect the Google search engines to be convinced of your online authenticity.

When you are using Facebook for SEO there are two very important things to remember. First, it’s like fishing from a pond stocked with the most fish. Second, for as many fish, there are as many fisherman. This means that there are a ton of other business doing the same thing as you: trying to make money. Because there are so many fisherman, the web crawlers are skeptical. Fortunately, social signals are our way of proving that our content is legitimate.



Successful SEO marketing plans depend heavily on backlinks. When it comes to upping the power of that link juice, Twitter is an incredible asset. The higher the value of the profile, number of quality tweets and re-tweets, the greater the power of those backlinks.

Google search engines measure Twitter power by the number of followers, lists, mentions, tweet keywords and off-site backlinks. In order to get those numbers up, the quality of content must be consistent to increase the value of the profile and to manage plenty of re-tweets. It all comes down to user activity. The more users that are engaging, the happier those search engines will be in directing traffic your way.

Google +

Even if users aren’t 100% convinced that Google + is as important as these other social signals, when it comes to SEO, what matters is what the search engines think. Google + might not be a superpower in the world of social networking, but it is as far as search engine ranking. Facebook and Twitter have built-in restrictions that do not allow Google to access certain data. When Google + was designed, it was optimized for Google search engines to retrieve maximum data, which means the content has more search engine power. Google + is a perfect example of quality over quantity.

Effectively using Google + in SEO requires three major things: engage, share and link. Just like the previously mentioned social sites, the absolute most important ingredient in the recipe is engaging users. Therefore, expect the best results to come from the best quality content. While there may be a lot of SEO marketing tricks, nothing beats plain old good content. If users find value in your content they will want to come back, comment and link to your profile. These are all things that push your ranking up within the search engines.

Another thing worth mentioning about Google + is how quickly a page is indexed. With the click of a +1 button, those web crawlers spring into action. So, if you want some fast-moving social signals, Google + is a great way to jump to the front of the line.


YouTube is a remarkable tool for growing and maintaining your online value. The determining factors in the value of your channel itself are subscribers, friends, backlinks, comments, keywords and the number of videos. Social signals such as views, likes, comments, video replies, favorites and play-lists improve your online authenticity, thus increasing your ranking within the search engines.

In a world where all information is a click away, one of the most favored ways to click yourself into knowing something is by watching a video. Users go to YouTube for information, entertainment and social networking. Because videos work with a number of our senses, it is the most user-friendly way to get information out to users.



In a very short period of time Pinterest has proved to be a powerhouse in online sharing. What initially seemed like a crafter’s paradise has turned into a mainstream way to easily share and organize online information. The user-friendliness of Pinterest is behind the social network’s mega-success.

Pinterest profiles can be optimized with keywords as well as connect to your other higher-traffic social networking profiles. Basically, it allows an extra-tidy, visual-friendly way to display content. Users interact by sharing, liking, following and re-pinning.

In the Pinterest world sharing is called pinning. Pins and re-pins are incredible tools for your SEO toolbox because they create backlinks. In addition to building effective backlinks, Pinterest is a great tool to bring focus to specific content. Pins are pinned to a board, which is like a folder that stores information categorized by the content. Users can follow other users, but more than most often a board is followed.

While the above mentioned sites are the best places to create the most effective social signals, any online activity that allows interaction with other users is a social signal waiting to happen. This means that any site that allows you to connect with other users is a potential social signal. Local review sites such as Yelp help to throw those signals out there. These local review pages also work to increase your ranking within Google Places. Things like how many review directories you’re listed in and the quality and quantity of the reviews will persuade Google Places to put you closer to the top.

In the game of SEO and social circles, the only winner is the one who plays the most. Top rankings are awarded to those who are engaging with other users the most. User engagement is proved by sharing, liking, commenting and backlinking.

Almost everybody knows that web crawlers are fickle but it’s important to know that they can be persuaded. Creating social signals is a pertinent step in earning the trust of these search engines. It’s also important to remember that consistency is necessary in achieving online awareness.

The best SEO marketing plans are the ones that realize the target is always moving. This means the best plan of action is simply that: action. If you’re standing still, you can bet your internet traffic is as well.


  1. Dan Boyland


    Does pinterest even matter, or not really anymore?

  2. Jennifer says:

    This is an awesome overview of social media and how it relates to seo!

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