In this blog post I explain why you shouldn’t put too much time and effort in using social signals for SEO purposes. The Google Penguin update of April 2012 offered SEO gurus once again the chance to start endless debates regarding the future of SEO (search engine optimization). We are now June 3 and I honestly find it pretty amusing how the internet marketing industry is dealing with this new update.
The Penguin Update And Social Signals
Every time Matt Cutts announces a new update like the Google Panda updates and the most recent Penguin update a huge tsunami of opinions emerge on this beautiful place called the internet. However, as we all know opinions on the internet sometimes become facts and we need to make sure that we don’t jump into conclusions based on what some people say.
After each new algorithm change SEO gurus rapidly start to create products that will help you to beat your competition, in this case they want to help you to kick the Penguin’s ass. :twisted: They tell you that they have spent a lot of their valuable time on researching how the update has affected their sites and what you can do to “recover” from it (in case your sites took a hit). They gathered a bunch of data of which you obviously can’t check if it’s real data or not and form a conclusion regarding the recent update. So how to recover from the update? Well, their conclusion is simple: just buy their new amazing product that will bring your site back to the top of the serps (search engine results pages). But how the hell do you know that these products and information are really valuable?
About The SEO Social Signals Hype
There’s currently a huge buzz regarding social signals going on. After the Penguin update several SEO gurus claimed that the amount of backlinks generated by social media websites would become so important for SEO that you should mostly focus on your social signals now. Of course these are the same people who are now selling products that will help you to generate more and better targeted Facebook likes, re-Tweets, Google+ shares… some of them even claim that old backlinking techniques died since the recent update. HAHAHA . Okay, I had my laugh, let’s be serious now: the internet was built via backlinking. There is NO way that social media shares will be more important for SEO than all the other SEO strategies. Social media sites are a product of the internet and these sites can disappear just as fast as they emerged, but backlinks will always exist and so will their power.
Social Signals Are Still A Lot Less Powerful Than Some SEO Gurus Claim
This is what you will always need to do to rank in Google:
- Build an easy-to-remember and trustworthy brand name. This will increase the amount of direct visits to your website and generate a relationship with your visitors. You also need to become an authority site so that other websites naturally start to link your site.
- Content and keyword research will always remain the most important thing in SEO. Hence, you will need to update your website with new information regularly. A website without new content looks dead to Google, so they will put it in a coffin and bury it.
- Whenever you are backlinking, make sure that your anchor text varies, but also stays on topic, for instance use “online marketing” instead of “internet marketing” for approximately half of your backlinks. Link to sites in the same niche as much as possible.
- Don’t neglect the power of video marketing. YouTube links can drive a lot of traffic to your sites and there are many more traffic generating video sites out there. (Metacafe, Dailymotion, Vimeo…)
- If you want to focus on social signals, you’ll need to get shares and likes on a regular basis and not just generating hundreds of them in one time. If you’re not consistent in your social media sharing, your site will probably not receive a high Google ranking. A short term social signals strategy will have a negative effect on your rankings. Remember unnatural backlinks? Soon we’ll have unnatural social signals.
There are still more than 200 factors that Google uses to rank websites, for instance keyword density, meta tags and title tags, internal link structure, url structure, bounce rate and user-friendliness.
Bottom line: don’t try to create your own theories if you feel like you don’t know enough about internet marketing and also don’t just blindly follow the SEO gurus. Just like Rome, the internet wasn’t built in one day and therefore no update whatsoever will ever change the way the internet works. In regarding to using social signals for SEO purposes: try out a few things for yourself (the more social signals you generate, the more traffic you will receive anyway), but I will certainly never buy products that claim to shoot me all the way to the top of Google.