Experts in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) community are always striving to anticipate Google’s next moves and adapt to new challenges. However, Google’s intentions are not always 100% predictable. This is precisely why many webmasters still wander in the dark, while trying to develop or perfect their very own plan. One question is on everybody’s lips these days: is Google interpreting social signals as an important ranking factor? Moreover, are social media strategies more important than links? Should we invest more time, money and energy in social media tactics to stay in Google’s good graces?
Social Metrics Have Nothing to Do with Search Ranking
Matt Cutts has recently revealed the fact that social signals are not an element comprised by Google’s search ranking algorithm. In other words, social media does not impact the way in which Google ranks webpages. This doesn’t mean that a cohesive plan meant to ensure your active presence on social media platforms is useless. Excellent, customized online marketing strategies will help you improve brand awareness, maximize customer loyalty, increase your client database and stimulate sales. However, don’t assume that first-class tactics that have turned you into the uncrowned kind of social media and a highly competitive player in your industry will convince Google to bring your website on page 1 in search engine results. They won’t.
Are Links about to Be Dethroned by Google?
According to Search Engine Watch, links are still the core of the search ranking algorithm embraced by Google. Links represent the most reliable factor used by Google to determine the online visibility, popularity, relevance and trustworthiness of a certain website. You may ask: why aren’t social signals a good selection criterion that could be comprised by a new algorithm version? Social signals are unreliable for a number of reasons, including the following ones.
- Anyone can easily manipulate social metrics. Recent statistics show that Facebook counts more than 83 million fake accounts. It’s no secret that spammers can generate millions of likes in a matter of a few minutes by using special software.
- Google doesn’t have access to the info gathered by external social networking websites.
- Not everyone is using Google+. Google+ is the 5th biggest and most influential platform; however, many users have a Google+ profile only because it was created automatically with their Gmail account.
These are only 3 good reasons why Google can’t really trust social signals. Therefore, Google’s romance with links can’t be over. According to some of the most experienced marketers, links are here to stay. As much as Google would want to find a way to minimize the importance of links in its search engine rankings, this doesn’t seem to be a viable option at this point. According to WordStream, Google has been working around the clock to come up with a new search engine version that wouldn’t depend on links to rank pages. So far, the results do not meet Google’s expectations. The internal experiments conducted by Google did not lead to any breakthroughs that could be implemented anytime soon. According to Matt Cutts, backlink relevance is still in the cards. Therefore, even though backlinks are spammers’ favorite toy, they are still a valid indicator for Google and thus also an exceptionally valuable tool for SEO experts who play by the book.