This post is based mostly on a high-level perspective regarding the future of SEO. I want to make it clear that I have not yet run any specific tests to determine social media’s impact on SEO; however, I very often say that gut feelings are underrated in the SEO world. Thousands of people had a gut feeling that their manipulative linking practices were eventually going to harm their site. Look how that turned out.
Back when the word “Penguin” had nothing to do with Google, many people already knew their linking practices were going to come back to bite them. In this post, I am going to predict that social media will have an increasing impact on organic ranking in the coming years based on a similar gut feeling.
Currently, links are the primary factor that determines site rankings in Google. This is obviously not a surprise to most people; however, Google’s use of links has proven successful and can serve as a method to forecast what factors they will start to use in the future. Google sees links as popularity votes for websites. Before social media links were one of the only ways in which a company or person could cast a virtual popularity vote. However, social media has opened up countless new ways to cast these votes on the web.
If links have proven so successful as a means of ranking websites based on popularity votes, why would social signals be any different? They are simply an additional, and far more prolific, way of casting these votes. I think it is obvious that Google will start incorporating these signals at some point and I am willing to bet they are working tirelessly to do so.