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Are Social Signals A Google Ranking Factor?


Are Social Signals A Google Ranking Factor?

Do social signals affect organic search rankings?

Google says no.

Some correlation studies claim to show otherwise.

Let’s clear up the confusion.

The Claim: Social Signals Are A Ranking Factor

First, let’s determine what we’re talking about here.

Social signals, for the purposes of this discussion, generally refer to things like:

  • Facebook engagements (likes, comments, shares).
  • Twitter engagements (tweets, retweets, likes).

In the past, social signals also referred to activity like Google +1 (back when Google Plus was kind of / sort of relevant, circa 2012-2013).

Raw follower counts have also been mentioned as part of the “social signals” discussion.


Now, as for the idea that social signals are a ranking factor, it basically comes to this:

Content ranks well and gets lots of traffic.

Content has lots of social media shares.

Share count must have helped it rank well.

The Evidence For Social Signals As A Ranking Factor

Where did the whole idea of social signals originate? To find out, let’s go back to 2010, when Danny Sullivan wrote What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count?

“…who you are as a person on Twitter can impact how well a page does in regular web search. Authoritative people on Twitter lend their authority to pages they tweet. When it comes to Facebook, Google says it does [try to calculate someone’s authority], in some limited cases.”

That was followed a few days later by a video from Google’s Matt Cutts, in which he confirmed they use Facebook and Twitter links in ranking (“as we always have”).

Cutts also stated that Google was looking into using the reputation of authors or creators as a ranking signal.

Many ranking correlation studies over the years have noted a strong relationship between social signals and organic search ranking.


For example, Moz released its final ranking factor correlation study (and survey) in 2015. It found that the number of social shares a page accumulated had a positive correlation with rankings.

In the survey, Moz asked 150 marketing professionals whether the number of social media shares a page was influential on organic ranking, specifically:

“Quantity/quality of tweeted links, Facebook shares, Google +1s, etc. to the page.”

Of all the ranking factors, page-level social metrics were rated as having the lowest impact.

Two important notes here:

  • A survey is not a fact.
  • Correlation is not causation.

I 2016, CognitiveSEO did a study on whether social signals influence SEO.

Their findings were that a strong social media presence and shares from Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Pinterest correlated with higher rankings.

I 2018, HootSuite did a study to determine whether social media impacts SEO.

They found a strong correlation between social activity on Twitter and rankings.


The Evidence Against Social Signals As A Ranking Factor

In 2011, Sullivan asked Cutts about a correlation Moz found between Facebook shares and Google rankings. Cutts said,

“Google doesn’t get Facebook shares. We’re blocked by that data. We can see fan pages, but we can’t see Facebook shares.”

In 2014, Cutts was asked the following question: “Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm? How much do they matter?”

His answer:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to sort of say ‘you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook’, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms.”


“We have to crawl the web in order to find pages on those two web properties and we’ve had at least one experience where we were blocked from crawling for about a month and a half. And so the idea of doing a lot of special engineering work to try to extract some data from webpages when we might get blocked from being able to crawl those web pages in the future, is something where the engineers would to be a little bit leery about doing that.”

In 2015, Google’s John Mueller was asked: “Do social signals have an impact on organic rankings in Google?”

His response: “Not directly, no.”

What does that mean?

He went on to elaborate that social posts show up in the search results (e.g., Twitter content) and can rank for certain keywords (your product name, brand, etc.).


Here’s his full answer, with the full context:

In 2016, Google’s Gary Illyes responded to a tweet about whether Google takes social into account for SEO.

His response: “No, we don’t.”

Illyes even shared a link to the Cutts video from 2014.

A few other things to consider:

  • Most social networks nofollow links. Thus, any links to a webpage wouldn’t pass any authority.
  • Facebook can’t crawl all of Facebook, for example. So how would they calculate influence on that social network? And even if they could, that’s a heck of a lot of data to crawl, index, and make sense of.
  • Also, social signals are fairly easy to manipulate. You can buy followers and likes and pretty much anything you want. But it’s more likely a bot than a human. Will buying your “social signals” result in any actual engagement? Not likely – especially considering that a 2016 study found that 59% of URLs shared on Twitter never get clicked.

Social Signals As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Social signals simply won’t help your content rank any better.


Great content tends to rise to the top (granted, not always).

It’s more likely that the correlation you’re seeing between social signals and SEO is actually just people sharing great content – because it’s great.

People tend to not share terrible content because it’s terrible (and it doesn’t rank in organic search or drive much/any traffic).

Social media content absolutely can help your brand/company/product/whatever appear in organic results.

And social media has plenty of indirect benefits (e.g., engagement, traffic, brand awareness, personal branding).

All of these can help your SEO efforts, but indirectly.

Bottom line: It’s unlikely that if you get X number of likes, shares, or followers, or whatever vanity metric, that Google uses social signals as a ranking factor.

Featured Image: Robin Biong/Search Engine Journal





Step-By-Step Guide To Earning Your Google Ads Certification


Step-By-Step Guide To Earning Your Google Ads Certification

In a world where many people offer services like SEO och Google Ads management, it is important to stand out and be as educated as possible.

Seasoned veterans and new professionals alike can both benefit from Google Ads Certification.

As an industry standard with content tied directly to the Google Ads platform, it is the most trusted credential and source for training in the industry.

What Is Google Ads Certification?

Google Ads certification is a process by which Google recognizes marketers as experts in online reklam-.

After passing Ads certification exams, individuals get a personalized certificate and – if affiliated with a company – can contribute to the company’s Google Partner credentials.

Like many Google products, properties, and initiatives, the program has evolved over the years.

The certification program was standalone and had a cost attached to taking exams.


That changed with the creation of the Google Partners program and has further evolved with the migration to the Google Academy for Ads in 2018 and, more recently, a rebrand to Skillshop.

Individual certification still works the same way it has for the past several years with training content and exams.

Over the years, the certification has become a minimum or expected requirement for entry-level search marketing roles for agencies and corporations.

Even when I hire someone who will go through our training program, I know that they are willing to invest time and see the importance of taking the step of getting certified is crucial.

Having that base level of subject matter exposure from Google is much more specific than what a school textbook can provide on how Google Ads works.

On top of that, there’s value in being able to affiliate with an individual who is already certified with my agency’s Google Partner account.

This step-by-step guide provides a walkthrough of how to get Ads certified, as it can be a confusing process when doing it for the first time or when coming back only annually or occasionally for recertification.

Step 1: Get Started In Skillshop

Navigate to the Google Ads Certification platform within Skillshop.


In the top right corner, click “Log In.”

Now, we’re at a critical step right away. We want to ensure that the account you get certified through is the specific one you want to be certified.

If you work for an agency or a company, you’re likely to be required to use your work email address.

Regardless of agency, corporate, or whatever status, you likely want to link your certification to the address you manage Google Ads to keep things simple and clean.

If you haven’t managed Google Ads yet and don’t have an account, you can easily create a new account här to get started.

If you’re a returning user, be careful to find your Skillshop profile and ensure your Google account is still properly linked, so you don’t accidentally take exams in a new account versus recertifying your current account.

The account management piece can be confusing and frustrating as there are separate profiles yet linked accounts between this system and Google’s accounts and Ad management systems.

If you’re interested in your certification counting toward a Google Partners badge, be sure to use your company email address that you use for managing ads for your Google Partner company to link things properly.


If you’re interested, I encourage you to learn more about the Google Partners program details, requirements, and logistics for getting set up.

Step 2: Select Your Exam

If needed, navigate back through Skillshop to the Google Ads Certifications again to arrive at the page with the list of exam topics.

Screenshot from skillshop.exceedlms.com, July 2022

Here you can find the specific certification you want to start with and click on it.

Within the specific certification, read the overview info.

When you’re ready to dive in, click the Get Started button.

Step 3: Prepare For Exams

Google provides both basic educational info and more extensive training content.

The specific Google Ads certifications include:

  • Sök.
  • Display.
  • Measurement.
  • Video.
  • Shopping Ads.
  • Apps.
  • Ads Creative.

If you’re brand new to Ads and the certification exams, I recommend starting with the Google Ads Search Certification first.

Search ads are typically the most common type of ads a company will run.

But if you are more focused on something like just shopping, then start there.

Google Ads Search CertificationScreenshot from skillshop.exceedlms.com, July 2022

Training content is tied to each of these specific certifications.

When you click on any of them, you’ll be presented with options to get started, including a quick knowledge assessment and other resources.

You’ll need to plan on investing at least a few hours to go through the training content specialization.

If you’ve been managing Ads campaigns or have deeper exposure, it’s still a good idea to go through the modules – even if you do it faster.

The sample questions are quite helpful; they are written in the same format as they appear on the actual exams.

Unless you have previously been certified and/or have a moderate level of Ads experience, don’t skip the training content!

Step 4: Pass The Assessment

To become certified, you are required to pass the assessment in any of the respective certification specialties.

Your certification will then be awarded for that specific product focus area.

You can stop with one specialization or continue by going through additional specializations until you have mastered and achieved all of those relevant to your desired credentials.


If you’re an overachiever or love standardized tests, there’s nothing that says you can’t take them all.

Note that if you fail to pass an exam, there’s a waiting period before you can retry. That’s the only real penalty for not passing.

When you have passed one or more assessments, I recommend downloading the digital certificate(s) and saving those, so you have proof of your certification.

Additionally, you can create a public profile page that showcases your mastery.

You can turn the public profile on (if you haven’t already) by clicking in the top right corner of the page and then on “My Account.” You’ll find a toggle switch for “Public” to turn on if you choose by following the prompts.


Google Ads Certification provides a base-level credential for new professionals managing ads.

It also provides an ongoing opportunity for industry veterans to maintain their status and show longevity by keeping certified and staying on top of the platform and best practices changes over time.

Whether seeking your first job in the industry out of school or leveraging the certification for a Google Partners designation, I recommend the program for learning and maintaining education and standard credentials.


There are other excellent training and education programs available from third parties.

However, the Google Ads Certification still holds weight in the industry and is a common expectation for paid search practitioners to have.

Fler resurser:

Utvald bild: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

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