Are Social Signals Indeed Taking Over Backlinking in SEO?

So not exactly Worpdress specific, we have been spending a lot of time lately at the Army of Flying Monkey’s HQ (VERY secret location btw!) answering questions, and indeed chattering among ourselves, about this new “Social Signals” metric that google have invented…

Social-Media-MarketingIndeed Google’s latest Penguin update has sent many websites search engine results using only backlinks under the radar completely, totally undiscoverable in the SERP’s.So the new question is, has Social Signal totally replaced backlinks as the new Google “vote”?

And it seemd inevitable that the other search engines would follow Google’s idea, and within weeks Bing have followed along.

So the switched on web marketers here at the Flying Monkeys HQ are turning more to social media marketing to boost our social signals on the websites and less time than we used to on backlinking efforts, all due to these new search engine algorithms for deciding on the best websites.

In March of 2012 Google announced that backlinks are no longer the priority when searching for the sites that will ultimately rank the highest in its search engine. Following suit to Google’s initiative, the other search engines, such as Bing, are following suit. Social signals are the new measure for how effective online marketing is going to be in order to rank highly in the search engines and gain the necessary exposure for businesses to compete effectively in today’s marketplace.

Backlinks used to be the holy grail of creating an effective online presence and were used by search engines to determine how valuable a website was. The more high quality backlinks a website gained the more of a resource they were considered to be and the higher the search engines would rank them in their search pages. With the onslaught of social media, that has all changed. For a website to become well known, it must gain social signals by way of Facebook “Likes”, Twitter shares, Google +1’s and other social media engagement. This is because search engines realize that real people’s opinions count more than being able to beg, borrow or buy backlinks that have little reference to how much the public actually values a website.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land says, “Both Google and Bing have added many social search features over the past year. There’s also been talk about using “social signals” to help rank regular search results.”

In order for websites to succeed with social signals, there must be a measurement and tracking systems in place that allows them to analyze and strategically plan their social media marketing efforts. That is WordPress plugins such as Social Metrics Pro comes in. It allows web marketers who are serious about search engine optimization success to have an easy to use platform to track and monitor their social marketing and social signal results.

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, was interviewed at SMX Advanced by Danny Sullivan. The latest video snippet was of links versus social signals.

Our thoughts are that Matt Cutts says back links are still, for the foreseeable future, going to be a more powerful signal for search rankings than social signals. Cutts does say that in ten years that may change but as for today, links are indeed more important.

Links versus Social Signals


Daniel Tan, the partner of Social Metrics Pro, who has also worked with several major companies and startups informed that Social Signals are found to have correlation with ranking improvements, as high as 60% on many cases.

“We have been tracking social signals on the sites we manage and we do notice that the correlation of social signal with ranking improvements are now more obvious than the past, and this is an interesting observation”, Daniel commented. “It’s not surprising to see backlinks get less weight and social signals get more weight, as social votes are often backed by a real person, much more reliable than an anonymous backlink”.

So in simple answer to the question of are Social Signals taking over backlinking in SEO? The simple one is, for them moment, YES.

For those monkeys among us who’d like to chatter more about social signals, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land has written a great article on Social Signal here.


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