Social Signals - Why We Love to Hate Them

by Chris Maloney
Published 5-19-2015

Everyone that uses social media has experienced exhaustion with the platforms at some point in their life. We're sick of the annoying updates from people we barely know, the constant ads, relentless email notifications, and the Facebook drama. When it comes to business, we know that we're supposed to be taking advantage of social media because we hear it all the time. But how do you do that? What good does it do? I receive feedback on a regular basis from clients that have tried social media and feel like it doesn't work for them. I'm going to give a brief explanation of what social signals are and how they can help your business.

What are social signals?

In a sentence, social signals occur when social networks make a reference to a page on your website. The method varies wildly depending on which social network the reference comes from. It can be likes, +1s, favorites, bookmarks, shares, retweets, positive reviews, and so forth. The concept is similar to back links from external websites, but it's unique in that it happens on social networks and it's treated a bit differently by the search engines. The idea is to get as many quality social signals you can from users on social networks. Search engines are using social signals as a major factor when it comes to organic search results, and this will not change anytime in the foreseeable future.

So how do I get these social signals?

That's the million dollar question isn't it? There is no sure fire way to receive social signals, and the strategy depends on the social network. I can tell you how NOT to get social signals, and that is by refusing to participate on social networks at all. The best way to get started is to first setup accounts on the big 3 at the moment: Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. After that it's best to start sharing information about your business, interact with others on the social network, and always include links back to your website. Setup pages on review sites such as Yelp, Angie's List, Google Business, etc and send your satisfied customers to these locations to write positive reviews about your business.

How do I find the time for this??

Good question. Finding the time can be quite a challenge which is why many companies hire Social Media Managers or engage firms like ours to handle the pursuit of social signals. It can't be denied though, setting your business up on social networks and pursuing social signals will increase your search rankings, and it will also increase the general traffic to your website. Both are good for business.