Do Social Signals Impact Search? Yes, but...
There's been a lot debate in the search marketing community regarding the impact social signals have on search rankings. Most professionals are under the impression the more tweets, likes, shares, pins, and +1's a page receives, the higher the likelihood the page will rank well in the search results.
Last month at SMX London, John Mueller of Google and Duane Forrester of Bing cleared the smoke with some rather interesting statements. They both denied that asocial signals have a direct impact on their search engine algorithms in determining ranking. However, they didn't offer insight has to how social media is indeed used in search.
Both Mueller and Forrester explained that there's a reason why a large number of people would share, tweet, like, etc. a given page: it's good content that offers value. Although this doesn't necessarily mean that the page will rank highly in search, the large number of social signals does serve a purpose in evaluating the page.
Social Signals Help to Evaluate the Legitimacy of Content
Contextual (or keyword) relevancy and links still hold true to attaining top search rankings.
If an article gets 100 links but no social signals, this can raise a red flag.
However, if an article gets 100 links and 323 likes, 86 shares, 134 +1's, and 432 tweets, the relationship makes sense.
In short, there's a very strong correlation with socially-favored content and the amount of inbound links it gets. Google and Bing can leverage this relationship to spot obvious signs of over-optimized content that offers minimal value to users.
What do you think? Does this shape your SEO practice? Let us know what you think in the comments below.