A WebmasterWorld Forum Admin posted on their Google Forum that he discovered a social media connection to high ranking in the August Broad Core update. He didn’t claim that social media is a ranking signal. Only that there was a connection and then explained what it was.
Social Media is Not a Ranking Factor
A few years ago there were some so-called white hats promoting a correlation between social media and high rankings.
That idea was firmly denied by Googlers such as Matt Cutts, John Muller and Gary Illyes (who made it clear that social media is not a ranking factor).
But that is not what the WebmasterWorld admin was asserting. The point he was making was that sites that were so good that the generated social media validation tended to also rank well.
Thus, what he appears to assert is that a site that can generate word of mouth enthusiasm was the type of site that tended to rank well in Google’s August Broad Core Update.
Here is what that forum admin posted:
“If your site isn’t generating strong social media engagement, then your site might not be as great as you think it is. If your site isn’t strong enough to generate strong social signals, then it probably isn’t generating enough of the other rankings signals that Google wants.”
He then clarified his idea like this:
“If a… site isn’t generating social media success than it is very likely that their site can be improved and isn’t perfect.”
Is Social Media a Popularity Metric?
Social media can be a metric for measuring popularity of a site. In previous years popularity was measured in links. Nowadays people do not link, they share. It is a scientific fact that people tend to share positive experiences.
A study called What Makes Online Content Viral confirmed these facts:
“…content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is…”
The researchers also discovered that triggering emotions tended to increase viral sharing, with positive emotions outpacing the negative ones:
“…while more positive or more negative content is more viral than content that does not evoke emotion, positive content is more viral than negative content.”
No Connection Between August Update and Social Media
There is no evidence of a connection between social media performance and this update. The WebmasterWorld discussion explores that topic and it’s worth discussing. But at this point there is no evidence of a connection.
Social media can be a publisher metric for locating a connection between content that makes people enthusiastic enough to share. Sometimes content is shared because it is useful and engages. Usefulness is an important factor for being relevant. In this update, usefulness seems to be one of the key definitions of quality.
In 2015 I wrote an article titled How to Rank Better With User Experience Marketing that proposed the idea that creating content around the User Experience was an ideal way to align your on page SEO with what users wanted. It is a seminal article on the intersection of user experience and ranking better that contains insights that are relevant today.
All a publisher has to do is ask, what do site visitors want to accomplish, what do site visitors aspire to be?
The proper keywords and content topics will suggest themselves in the answers to those questions.
A common mistake is to create the content according to which keywords have the most traffic. But that’s separating the user intent from those keywords, resulting in great content with sometimes the wrong user intent.
It’s better to start with the user intent and then discover your article topics from there.
Read the WebmasterWorld discussion Social Media & Google’s Aug 1 Update
Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author