Small business websites and ‘social signals’: are they important or not?
(And, do they really matter to a local business?)
Remember your school days? Were you in the ‘cool gang’? Your blood has either just run cold or you have a nonchalant look on your face.
There was bound to have been a group of kids that everyone wanted to be friends with. They seemed to be the ‘beautiful people’, the group of people that were effortlessly gorgeous and handsome, blessed with a coolness that oozed from every pore…
And then there were some of us who maybe aspired to be in this cool gang. This may now cause us embarrassment when we thing how we coveted the attention of someone in that group to just elevate us slightly from not-quite-a-complete-nerd to the almost-cool-gang.
Social signals are just like that and it all it now seems a little shallow, superficial; so much so, in fact, that some people do not believe that Google places any weight on the number of likes, shares or pins your website has.
But let’s flip this argument – YOU might not actually have been bothered about getting in to the cool gang at school and actually, you couldn’t give two hoots about likes, shares, pins, pokes or +’s for your website or blog posts. You are a local business, with local customers and world domination via Google is simply not on this month’s agenda.
What the experts say
Some people say that, yes social signals do matter as what they tell Google – and this is something the search engine is hot-to-trot on – is that your website has authority.
Why covet the Google search engine, specifically?
- It has 5 billion users a day and a 67.7% share of the search engine users (that’s quite a lot…)
- Google is the cool kid and you need to attract its attention
- Social signals – the likes, shares, pins etc. – all tell Google that your gang is actually quite cool, and what you have on your website is actually quite good; when people like it, and show other internet users they do, they are saying that your website is authoritative, worth reading and visiting.
Oh, so simple…
Not quite. Nothing ever is.
Did you know?
Google ranks or values your website using 200 different variables (take a look at them here! Great Infographic https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-ranking-algorithm-infographic). Some are really clear – age of your website (and why buying it for a year is not a good idea), keywords, links etc. – but others are not so… and it is this lack of clarity about how much, if any at all, social signals play in determining you website ‘value’.
(Matt Cutts, webspam engineer at Google, says that they do not use social signals to rank websites BUT, talks of authority and not ruling out social signals in the future… https://searchengineland.com/googles-matt-cutts-facebook-twitter-pages-are-treated-like-any-other-web-page-on-the-internet-182370).
With all this uncertainty, are social signals worth the hassle?
The answer is, kind of…
i. REPUTATION – if nothing else, Google likes an authoritative website. So, if your local spa business offers services and products using the latest techniques and people ‘like’ or share the blog posts your write, it will start to wave a flag in Google’s direction. The cool kid notices it and pushes your site up the ranking… and who knows what new and exciting customers and opportunities this could bring.
ii. IMPROVED ‘REFERRALS’ – we all know the drudgery associated with trying to weed out non-human accounts from our Twitter feed, along with the many hundreds of spammy emails clogging the junk box… social signals are a way of Google understanding the needs of your potential customers and visitors better hence, you will start to figure in results that means something to the searcher.
iii. TRUST – we’ve all done it, so stop shaking your head at the back! You’ve read a post or hit on a website and the likes, share and pin it boxes have remained as a depressing ‘0’, no shares! And then you have hit a website that is hot, hot, hot and the post has been shared hundreds of times, with people pinning it and + all over the world… and you have been drawn in. Trust me, you have. I know.
iv. LOYALTY – regardless of where you do business, from the local high street in Surrey to a garage in the leafiest part of Cheshire, if you have a customer base you want their loyalty: loyalty + social signals = continued custom. And we all need that. Even if you are a local business, with local customers and no desire for complete world domination via Google (see earlier point) BUT, if you want your website to be visible to the local customers you crave, then you cannot afford to ignore social signals and authority entirely.
Great! Now you want to know how to increase social signals… and that, you will be pleased to know is coming in part 2.
In the meantime, why not like this post? Or share it?