Did you ever wonder why nowadays you primarily get the best search results in Google, Bing and Yahoo?
It’s not like in the olden days when you had the worst, the best and the mediocre links listed on the first pages.
Searching for anything worthy of value in those times was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
This approach started to be reconsidered in 2011 when Google decided to launch Panda.
Panda is a change integrated into the search results that were ranked on the first pages of Google, and it was supposed to eliminate those simply bad websites that were thrown among the good-quality ones.
Quite simply: Panda made Google more efficient.
This proves just how important social signals are, and that they do in fact affect search results online. Programmers were able to develop an algorithm like Panda so you could indulge in finding something relevant to your search, quickly and painlessly, which is and should be the goal of all search engines.
What are they?
Social Signals are a bit tricky to explain.
Everyone that has a presence on the internet contributes to the search results listed on the search-engine pages.
Of course, experts who recommend, for example, a new perfume, will have more influence on this matter than someone who has just launched their beauty website and recommended the same product. Either way, your vote counts, even if it’s on a minute scale.
Organic & Trustworthy
If you try to look back to the last time you found some spam or irrelevant links on your first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo, you might struggle.
You probably haven’t had this problem since years.
Now reliant on organic recommendations, we are able to browse through actual quality links with no scrap surrounding them. This turn of giving us, humans, the choice of what we find suitable, instead of letting a machine decide, was probably one of the best moves for SEO.
Your reactions to the links you visit are important.
It all depends on if you like what you see and if you recommend it further or not.
To some extent, it can be compared to voting. Though some votes weigh more than others, if you culminate all of the seemingly insignificant percent of votes, you will see which links are worth clicking and which aren’t.
This allows the search engines to choose accordingly what can be deemed useful and what is trash.
This leads to the users sharing, commenting, liking and debating what they found to be of high-quality and relevant to their search and so it goes in circles.
What exactly is the importance of having social signals in SEO?
It mostly relates to the aforementioned reasons.
When you want to find something, and you want to find it quickly, it would be a nightmare to weave your way through dozens, even hundreds, of unsolicited links when you were just aiming for one thing.
Many search engines, such as Google, deny using social signals and claim they have no effect on the results.
Specialists say that having the people be in charge of what is of quality and what isn’t simply would be too powerful.
After all, users online can remove posts, dislike them or even delete them.
There isn’t enough sufficient information out there that can prove Facebook and Twitter affect social signals, but the results online say otherwise. A website that has way more social signals than others is way more popular than the one that doesn’t.
Things to Consider
Google+, with its Google +1 option, proves that clicking that small +1 button will affect the ranking of at least something.
The more +1, the better.
If your website is listed sixth in the first ten results, and enough users give it a +1 in being more relevant and useful that the six web pages that were above you, you will move up gradually to the fifth, fourth, third, second and finally: first place.
The goal is to gather as many of these as possible, and this can also be controlled to some extent by backlinks. If you post enough of backlinks (links relevant to what you are referring to, either in posts, comments or discussions) you will generate more traffic.
All in all, it’s easy to see why social signals are important as the internet evolves. They will generate traffic to relevant links and extinguish the useless ones, leaving them in the very last pages of Google, gathering dust.