I've seen on multiple posts with many of the (very) experienced users on this site, saying it is important to have a strong social media presence for SEO & ranking purposes, which led me to this question.

Why, when Google has clearly confirmed they don't use Social as a ranking signal so many are still mentioning the importance of strong social profiles with regards to rankings … Was just wondering if I am not understanding something?

  • Whether they do or don't, getting facts on SEO is hard because most of it is speculation. Even worse, much of it is speculation by people who have no idea what they're tallking about. – John Conde Nov 22 '16 at 14:58
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    Can you link to some of this advice here? Social can help SEO in some very concrete ways such as providing additional owned results at the top of the search results. However, you are correct that Google doesn't pay attention to Facebook likes or number of re-tweets. Saying that it is "important" needs context as to what it is important for. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 22 '16 at 15:52
  • Totally agree with stephen, Facebook likes and number of re-tweet is not part of google algorithm, who know when their API will change and block such a crawler to save some bandwidth. But social media profiles may help you to make your site trustworthy. – Goyllo Nov 22 '16 at 16:08
  • Everything I was able to figure out is that social media does almost nothing for SEO except for the news/trend algorithms where the SERPs are adjusted according to shifts in the search winds. Social media not only can tell you the trends, it can signal where to find trending content just slightly ahead of the game. In this, an obscure and ignored page can suddenly jump to #1 in the SERPs for as long as it makes sense then return to it's regular placement when the trend ceases. So in that regard, social is good for traffic and the SEO value that brings along with any trends that may come along. – closetnoc Nov 22 '16 at 17:46

Social is to SEO like pool table cushions are to billiards. The cushions don't make shots for you, they make shots possible by reflecting the shot.

SEO still revolves, in some fashion, around links. But links in social are often not spiderable (privacy settings), nor are they follow-able (i.e. <a href="..." rel="nofollow">). So they don't count directly towards your links. But social is a way to raise your profile and traffic. A good social campaign will keep users engaged with your brand. That, in turn, tends to mean that people will do things like talk about you online in non-social channels. And talking about you means links.

Google is also likely able to see your traffic

In billiards this is called a bank-shot.

SEO involves a lot of bank shots. That's why SEO is really a sub-set of marketing in general.

Search Engine Journal talked some about this last year.

  • Agree with most except Google is also likely able to see your traffic Google came on record multiple times saying traffic to site nor google analytics data are used for ranking purposes, good answer though – Timothy Coetzee Nov 23 '16 at 3:09
  • I would like to add this, one of my posts got 25k shares, got one "okayish" backlink, another post got around 18k shares (thats A LOT), with around 70'000 visitors in 1-week -- no backlinks...People are much less prone to link these days...atleast that is the feeling i'm getting – Timothy Coetzee Nov 23 '16 at 3:13
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    I agree. Links are a lot less common since Penguin. But no social discussion typically means no links at all. A social campaign at least means the possibility of links. – Machavity Nov 23 '16 at 4:18

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