What Is A Social Signal
Before we answer the question “What is a social signal?” let me address this “I am also making this my public commitment to start posting more updates on here for you. Going forward I will post once a minimum of once a week something to do with internet marketing, SEO, eCommerce or something related.” – Me On May 1st.
Ok so that didn’t work out; I apologize. I am a solopreneur and the demands on my time are pretty severe at times so sometimes things fall through the cracks. Going forward I will be more consistent in providing content but I am not going to promise any set schedule. I mean this is a second post in a month and a half after 6 months between the previous two! #Progress
So today I am going to talk about something that I see so many people in internet marketing and SEO from the newest of n00b to some people with years of experience that are considered “gurus” in the industry get wrong. I am talking about social signals
To understand what a social signal is it is important to clear up some of the confusion on what people often incorrectly call a social signal.
A social post more than anything else is what people misidentify as a social signal. A social post is exactly what it sounds like a post on a social network like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc…
Social posts are a great way to share content, drive traffic to your website or video, and have some SEO value; the backlink to your site builds trust in your brand and search engines reward you for that with increased rankings. Having a social posting strategy is crucial to increasing your brand awareness, and getting the word out about what you do. This can get pretty cumbersome; some businesses hire a social media manager but that can be pretty expensive, the other option is to use automation tools.
I have had a great deal of success automating Twitter and Facebook posts with socialoomph. Socialoomph is an incredibly versatile and powerful tool that allows you to connect Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Plurk, App.net and post to them at regular intervals or all at once, syndicate from a site to social channels, thorough analytics and a lot of features I haven’t even dug into yet. It’s pretty cheap and I think they have a free trial so you should definitely check it out and see if it is for you.
The other option for social posts is content curation. Taking other people’s relevant content and sharing it on your own social properties to keep people interested and seeing content from you but removing the burden of having to come up with stuff regularly for people, like me, who suck at it.
To automate this I use two different tools that were designed to work together. Quuu and Buffer. Quuu is a very unique tool that allows you to pick the categories your content is about and their team will hand pick related content to post to your accounts. You can then user Buffer to have have it schedule this content at optimal times and post it to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Google+ accounts. I picked up Quuu on an App Sumo deal a while back and have been really happy with the content it provides and the way it keeps my accounts active. You can pick up both for $20 a month or less.
So as you can see there are a lot of options and a lot of value to social posts but they are not by themselves a social signal. So what is a social signal? Well before we can answer that there is another type of social media we need to discuss.
I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this one as these links are pretty uncommon and limited in use.
Social bookmark sites are sites like Delicious, Stumbleupon, and Diigo. A social bookmark is exactly what it sounds like; a bookmark of a site so you can easily find it later. These are very difficult to share with other people as they don’t create a post in the traditional sense. It is literally just a page with a bunch of links on it. the only value I have been able to find in these is in SEO for video. Using something like Syndwire or Source Machine to hit a newly uploaded and properly optimized video gives it a very good chance of instantly ranking in Google. I recently used Source Machine to rank 32 videos first page in 24 hours on behalf of it’s creator Alex Becker. A lot these posts were social bookmarks and they were instrumental in the rankings.
So social bookmarks have their uses but they aren’t a social signal either. The good news is we are now ready to answer the question…
What Is A Social Signal?
So what is a social signal exactly? The answer lies in the word signal. A signal is defined as “transmit information or instructions by means of a gesture, action, or sound” so a social signal tells something, generally a search engine, that something is worth its attention.
So what is a social signal? It is when a link to your website, video, picture etc… get posted to a social site then shared, liked, re-tweeted, +1 or whatever else is possible on any given social platform. Think about it like this; the goal of a search engine is to provide its user with the most useful content possible based on their search. If something is getting shared a lot it generates a lot of social signals; the search engine algorithm sees that and realizes that people are interested and rewards it with higher search placement. A good example is when a major event happens and is in the news… search that topic and even though it is fresh news it will already be atop the search engine results. That’s what social signals do, they help search engines (including Facebook, Youtube and other social properties that are search engines in and of themselves) determine what content people want to see.
So now that we have answered the question “What is a social signal” we just need to answer the question of how to generate more of them. The most important and number one way is to create content that people are interested in and want to share. Sometimes that is obvious… for instance this article is something you are all going to want to share </shameless self promotion> then other times something totally unexpected will end up “going viral” (another term that people get wrong all the time; we’ll address that in the future) like “Dressgate” when people inexplicably got obsessed over the color of a dress and shared it some 10 million times.
So how can we use social signals to our advantage? Well you can share your content to your social networks have your friends, family, and other followers share it which is great and can give you a search engine results boost… but people are undependable and won’t always share enough to get you the boost you need. The other option you have when you put out a new post, site, or video is to buy a package of social signals from a vendor that will offer them in bulk and take care of it for you. This sends the same signals to the search engine that people are talking about your content and will help boost your ranking as well. This probably the easiest and cheapest option to use social signals to boost your search rankings if you don’t have a huge following.
So what is a social signal? It is when people share content that has been posted to a social network. They carry more weight with search engines than social posts or social bookmarks. Think of it this way anyone can make a tweet or a Facebook post but shares, likes, retweets etc… have to be earned. So the next time you see someone talking about social signals, or more importantly selling them, make sure they know the difference so that you get the full value for your money and the full search engine boost.
So that’s what I have for you today. I hope you got something out of it and have a better understanding of what a social signal is and the value they have. I’ll be back as soon as I can with something else for you. In the meantime follow me on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube and share what you find there so I can get some great social signals!