Google spokesperson Matt Cutts maintains social media doesn’t impact your Web site rankings. But an authoritative Website Magazine article by Travis Bliffen, of Stellar SEO, in 2014 raises some thought-provoking questions.

His article with timeless training points caught my eye because this portal experienced a noticeable ranking increase when we launched a social media strategy.

Mr. Bliffen makes some excellent points:

“In case you missed it, I dug deeper into the anatomy of Google Plus and showed how you could get do-follow links from it,” writes Mr. Bliffen.

“The very fact that you can get do-follow links as a result of someone giving your website a +1 seems to discredit the claim that G+ has no influence on rankings and I am not the only one who seems to think this,” he adds.

Studies’ results

Mr. Bliffen cites research by Quicksprout that shows Web sites do see an increase in their Google rankings by using Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

He also mentioned a study by Stone Temple Consulting.

“The results of their study only led to more heated debates by industry professionals, but they do determine that at a minimum, Google +1s drive discovery and that they most likely lead to faster indexing,” explains Mr. Bliffen. “The study also notes visits by GoogleBot to the shared page shortly after the +1 occurred. Stone Temple goes on to note that repeat visits are made to the same page from subsequent shares.”

Do “likes” and “shares” influence rankings?

“A few months after the study on the impact of Google +1s was completed, Stone Temple decided to test the impact of Facebook likes and shares,” he points out. “This study was set up like the G+ study in that it attempts to show causation instead of correlation and here is what they decided.”

— Google is not likely to count likes as a ranking factor because they cannot distinguish the source of the like to establish credibility.

— Getting shares on Facebook is also not likely to directly impact your rankings as a high percentage of even authority Facebook posts are not indexed by Google.

Therefore, social signals do help rankings, but there are caveats.

Mr. Bliffen’s conclusions

“When social shares occur in conjunction with inbound links, they validate one another and have a greater impact on rankings,” he indicates. “We know that Google can determine an unnatural influx in back links to a site; so why are all sites not penalized for inbound link spikes?”

He astutely points out variations in links can be a red flag to Google. “… a brand new site getting 500 links in a single day is a red flag whereas an established site can get that many without issue.”

More important insights:

“If you consider a piece of viral content, you could literally have hundreds or thousands of links built to a page in a very short time and these links can be international, from un-related or semi-related sites, and they can come from sites with no PR or authority,” he says.

“If you have a new site or one with a history of generating few back links and you attempted to build links to that site rapidly, you would likely get penalized,” warns Mr. Bliffen.” If that piece of viral content mentioned above happened to be on your new site and it lead to a massive influx of links, you are more likely to improve your rankings than to get in trouble.”

Social signals vs. citations

Mr. Bliffen explains the difference between social signals and citations: “By citations I am talking about un-linked mentions of a brand or website on other sites.”

His three recommendations:

— Create massive social signals across Twitter and Google+(now defunct)

— Generate a measurable increase in the amount of citations to a brand or site

— Rapidly increase the number of inbound links with variables based on the link profile of a relevant authority site

Here’s a Biz Coach tip of the cap to Mr. Bliffen and Website Magazine for a great article, as usual.

From the Coach’s Corner, more ranking tips:

For Strong Local SEO Performance, Avoid 6 Errors — A key strategy to make your cash register ring is to have a strong Internet presence. That means strategizing for strong local search-engine optimization (SEO). With strong local SEO performance, your business will have online top-of-the-mind awareness in your community. You want to be easily discovered by potential customers.

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study— There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks. Those are the conclusions from a 2013 Searchmetrics study.

Optimize for Bing to Achieve 30% Reach on Internet — Yahoo and Bing are expected to combine for 30 percent market share. If you haven’t already, start optimizing your Web site for Bing. Here’s how.

14 Steps to Profit from Online Customer ReviewsFor competitiveness and profits, businesses can’t afford to ignore the potential of online reviews. They’re a factor in revolutionizing commerce. Reviews are important because they influence prospective customers to buy from you. They’re also beneficial in improving your Internet presence because search-engine crawlers consider them to be relevant.

Task-Management Checklist for Digital MarketingTo generate revenue from digital marketing, naturally, you must strategize to use best practices for customer relationship management and for pursuing new business. What are the task-management tips to maximize your time and energies in digital marketing? You need an up-to-date Web presence that ranges from effective mobile apps to social media.

“The power of social media is it forces necessary change.”

-Erik Qualman


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.