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How Social Signals Impact Your SEO

You may know the basics about search engine optimization (SEO). Or perhaps you’re more enlightened on the social media marketing end of things for businesses and brands. But are you aware of the impact a robust social media marketing program has on your website’s search engine ranking?

Though it’s not easy to pull a direct answer from Google or Bing on the impact of social signals on search, many industry leaders, including CognitiveSEO, have conducted research and in-depth studies and found a definite correlation between a strong and active social media presence and improved search engine rankings.

In this article we’ll review social signals and their influence on search engine ranking.

social media and SEO ranking

What are social signals?

Social signals refer to a website’s collective social media engagement activity. This activity which includes likes, shares, comments, retweets, and votes—indicates to search engines that your customers have basically endorsed your brand via social media engagement.
Social signals refer to a website’s collective social media engagement activity. Share on X

Do social signals impact SEO?

Social signals come from the number of followers, shares, and interactions, etc. on your social media platforms. But are those social signals a ranking factor?

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out there are many conflicting studies and ongoing conversations regarding the impact, if any, of social signals on SEO.

While some say there is no connection between a business’ social signals and its website ranking for certain keywords, there are many equally strong or stronger studies citing a direct and strong connection between the two.

And such a connection makes sense. Just as all content and links aren’t ranked equally, search engines don’t rank all social media accounts equally. So, the more your social content is shared, the more visibility, links, comments and overall engagement it’s going to receive…all benefiting your social signals and ultimately, your SEO.

Social signals are taken into consideration by Google and other search engines to get an idea of ‘value’ of a website. The higher social media engagement is, the more likely the corresponding website will rank higher on search engines.
Social signals are used by search engines to understand ‘value’ of a website. Share on X

In summary, research has shown a strong correlation between social signals and search engine ranking.

Pro Tip: Make sure your social media icons are on your website and are correctly linked!
When search engine bots crawls your site, they will use these icons and links to make the connection between your website and corresponding social media platforms.

How do social signals impact SEO?

Below, we list three ways in which social signals indirectly impact your search engine ranking.

1) Increases Organic Traffic

We all want more traffic to our website, right? In order to get high-quality traffic, you need to get higher rankings on Google. But you first have to start by increasing traffic to your website overall. An easy way to get organic traffic to your website is through social media.

Once your website visitors increase, your search ranking will increase as well. Thus, your chances of receiving higher quality traffic will also improve.

If you have a significant amount of followers on social media (at least 10,000 followers) and they actively engage with your content, you are more likely to be considered a relevant and strong source by a search engine.

By sharing your content, you are making it visible to a larger audience and leading them to your site. And if your content is shared by others, your visibility and website traffic increases even more.
Increase organic traffic to your website and your search engine ranking through social media. Share on X

2) Builds Links

We know backlinks are valuable for SEO, so creating share-worthy content for followers is fundamental in link building. Links coming from trusted social media accounts could place you higher in search rankings.
Links coming from trusted social media accounts could place you higher in search rankings. Share on X

3) Boosts Domain Authority

Ranging from one to 100, domain authority is a search engine ranking metric developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on a search engine’s results page (SERP).

Although social signals do not directly influence domain authority, a legitimate (not fake) social media account with higher engagement is interpreted differently by search engines than an account with lower engagement.

An account with a strong social media presence is considered more valuable and could rank higher than its competitors. Thus, staying active on social media and posting engaging content can suggest to search engines that you are a knowledgeable source in your field.
An account with a strong social media presence is considered more valuable and could rank higher. Share on X


Social media has increasingly evolved over the years. What started as a platform to connect with family and friends has turned into a powerful marketing tool given the right strategy and content.

For businesses, a website is no longer the only digital place to promote content. Having a strong social media presence is good for business and SEO.

If you’re struggling with climbing to the top of the search results page, our agency with expertise in both SEO and Social Media is ready to help you get there.

For even more information on SEO, read our blog post on Images & SEO.