Social Signals & Search Rankings: Facts and Evidence

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Social Signals & Search Rankings: Facts and Evidence

It’s no secret that Google has been using social signals as a ranking factor. This has been common knowledge in the SEO and Web Master community since at least since 2008. 

Shares, likes, comments – actual site visitors actively engaging in discussion. Expressing, as humans tend to do, their approval or DIS-approval of a particular site, by means of commenting, “liking”, sharing, re-tweeting, upvoting and downvoting – their various reactions (or lack thereof) speak for themselves as to how impactful a brand or piece of content is to them at that time. 

It only stands to reason that search engines would place considerable value on that data about the page in question as a measure of the quality of the content contained therein. 


The impact that makes on it’s readers, is far beyond what a simple link from a fellow site owner ever could. It is, in theory, an unequivocally candid sort of “double-blind test” of how that content performs in the wild.

This even more in recent years in the wake of a blackhat epidemic. The internet is Rife with obvious attempts to game the SERPs. 

PBN’s, link schemes, and paid links that litter the web in order to attempt to leech off of the authority of other sites to get ahead by manipulating Google’s ranking algorithms. 

The big “G” is well aware of these facts and, as a result, is even more aware of the importance and value of authentic and genuine data.

Quietly, subtly, social signals have become arguably one of the MOST powerful SEO Ranking metrics in 2020, and their influence is only getting stronger. They are the most authentic reactions Gauge what does or does not effectively capture the attention of Any Given target audience – and filtering out The false positives takes almost no effort.

Still skeptical? Take a look at what happens when we type “Verizon” (without the quotes) into our Google Search Bar…

Google Search Result July 04, 2019 at 11:15am PST

Search Link Here

As you can see, the 2nd, 5th and 6th organic search results (3 of the topb6) are Twitter mentions of @Verizon within the past 24-48 hour. Now mind you (I must re-emphasize this point) – That hese links were indexed and made it to the top of the search results for a highly competitive keyword such as “Verizon” within 24-48 hours – and two more top 10 results positions go to YouTube reviews.

That is 8 out of 10 organic results from the US for this high traffic, highly competitive keyword  consisted of – Social Signals!

One look at that search result serve as strong evidence to practically any blogger, e-commerce business owner or website owner who has worked diligently for months to optimize our on site and off-site SEO to ensure that much less competitive keywords rank.

This is by no means an isolated incident. Here is yet another screenshot of a search query for a brand that is considered a “household name” here in the US, with curiously similar results.

Let’s take a quick gander at what Google tells us about “Wells Fargo”?

25xUXF3z2RQ XqZkkeIwDd3baxGS0SyHmWMHnPTGI9ktxvQ3MoccAgh9JyqoVp6t

Search results Link Here

Once again, we see Twitter taking the 2nd organic search result – the most recent Tweet  already ranking in search being Tweeted a mere 4 HOURS EARLIER

Facebook takes spot number 6 in the organic search… The evidence certainly appears to be mounting, doesn’t it?

To recap, in both of these instances, out of the top 6 organic search results for the very highly competitive brand name SEO keywords “Verizon” and “Wells Fargo” – 50% and 33% (respectively) were Social Signals!

Let’s pretend that somehow this little experiment was a fluke – twice in a row… Or perhaps attempt to weed out any possibility of bias in the outcome of this experiment… 

To do so, I will now feed Google the names of 5 companies at random. Some of them smaller, and some of them conglomerates, much like the previous two examples.

Let’s see what this yields us:

I started with the very well-known Art and Craft’s chain Michael’s. 

Let’s Review the results:

Michaels Google Results July 4 2019

If you look at organic results, numbers 2, 3, 4 & 5 are once again occupied by the likes of Twitter, Yelp, then Yelp again, and Facebook (respectively). So far, this theory is three for three.

On to the next:

Johnny Rocket’s – an old-fashioned style chain burger restaurant that operates as a faux 1950’s Diner, quite popular in malls across the US. They operate in 49 out of the 50 US States and multiple foreign countries as well – typically in or adjacent to shopping malls. Let’s see what we found:


Once again, Twitter managed to snag the #2 Organic Spot, and Facebook took number 7. 

Bear in mind, this is outranking the various in-depth reviews and current promotions that are covered at length on a number of other sites that can’t get near the audience reach of that one tweet they made.

Now up to this point, all of the companies I have chosen to include have been of the type that deals directly with the consumer. 

One might argue that it would only stand to reason that a consumer-facing business would be the only likely business model that this would apply to. After all, Consumers are who you will find on Social Media the most anyway, Right?

Well, we’ll see… Next, I have chosen to include RingCentral in this experiment. RingCentral is a multi-line, business VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone service. It has an auto-attendant, multiple extensions, hold music, voice mail, efax and video conferencing software. 

In other words, it is a company that does not sell products or services that would cater to an end consumer. You have most likely been exposed to their services many times and never knew it.

I’m sure you can recall a time or two when you’ve been delivered a pleasant recorded greeting when you call a business, that then provided you touch tone options to be transferred to the correct department, and then proceeded to play some lovely hold music for you while you waited.😜

Ring Central Google Search

Surprise!!!  In the organic results hierarchy, Twitter scored #2 (Again) and Youtube snagged result #3. So much for it only applying to the end consumer!

So Next, we’re going to check up on one of America’s favorite candy bars. We are a culture of excess, so it’s no shocker that we love a candy bar that’s packaged as two candy bars – Twix.


Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record – again, we have Twitter taking the #2 organic search result, and Facebook and Instagram claiming results number 5 and 6, respectively. 

Who knew a candy bar that’s not it’s own brand – but a product of Mars, inc. could have so much to say?

So far, including the original two examples, we are 6 for 6 in this experiment, but since I’ve already done the final search, we might as well finish this 7 for 7 sweep with Wetzel’s Pretzels:

wetzels-pretzels-google search

Well, it seems this time Yelp managed to snag the number 2 spot, and Facebook and Twitter claimed positions number 5 and 6 respectively.

Now, we have just witnessed an example of the direct effect social media engagements have on search engine rankings – and much more importantly  – exposure. The specific brands we have just performed this test on are fairly sizeable companies, with a long history of very powerful press releases, recent media events and countless backlinks from the highest quality sources.

We are talking about multinational, multi-billion dollar organizations. And I’m not squarely referring to Wells Fargo and Verizon either. 

Johnny Rockets currently operates 320 restaurant locations and recently celebrated achieving operations in 30 countries in 30 years.

Michael’s operates over 1250 Stores and reportedly rakes in approximately 5.4B per year in sales

RingCentral, The company you’ve probably never heard of, has been a leader in business phone services for over 3 years now, providing multi-line high quality VOIP services to over 500,000 businesses worldwide!

Wetzel’s Pretzels boasts 305 locations and growing – with an average annual net revenue in the hundreds of millions!

Suffice to say, there is one clear lesson to be learned from this: 

Keep up your social engagement! 

By that, I don’t just mean get a bunch of useless followers. That looks nice and all, but it does nothing to boost your metrics. 

Ultimately, what you want to encourage and cultivate is an ENGAGED AUDIENCE. Bonafide likes, comments, shares, and contextually relevant mentions. Some upvotes and retweets. Positive interaction, interest and sentiment towards your brand.

That is what will make all of your other SEO methods finally pay dividends.

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