Matt Cutts at Pubcon: Social Signals Do Little for You Immediately, But Big Benefit Over Long Haul

At the +Pubcon conference last week in his keynote address, Google Distinguished Engineer +Matt Cutts brought some more clarity to the importance social signals (the engagement you get on social networking sites) have in Google Search.

It sounds like he's still trying to put to rest the persistent belief that just getting enough +1's or Likes or retweets on your content will cause you to rank higher in search. But this time, instead of just saying "they don't," he added some positive incentive.

Matt said that while social signals don't do much for you in the short term (which I took to mean, they are not a direct ranking signal for a particular piece of content), over the "long term" they help build an aura of trust and authority around you and your content. 

That fits very much with what I've been saying for some time: that social signals are more likely to be a confirmatory, rather than direct, ranking signal. In other words, all other things being equal, the site or content creator that has a long history of high positive social endorsement will get an extra boost in search.

This has strong implications and incentives for both Google Authorship and Google+ page verification, as I believe Google is tracking this and will use it for both people and sites.

Click the link below to read more about my key takeaways from Matt's keynote!
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13 comments
 
+Didier J. MARY it may surprise you that I agree with most of that post. The kind of stuff he points out there is not what I preach. For one thing, as much a fan as I am of Google+, I would never tell anyone that it should be their "central strategy" or "only social network."

Google+ works best for businesses as an important part of a well-rounded search marketing effort. Anyone who tries to sell it to you as a magic pill is either a hustler or ignorant.
 
+Mark Traphagen That was definitely what he was saying.  I also asked the first question in the Q&A part.

One thing I got him to clarify is that there is a distinction between pure +1s and Google Plus shares.  He did say that he uses "+1s" when he talks about social signals in search for both.
 
+Mark Traphagen didn't surprise me... ;-) G+ is part of the mktg toolbox. So far, I have a better experience and more results here than other SNs, but I'm convinced it's not the "ultimate" solution to "cure" all digital mktg problems. Those who have short term goals have to much expectations...
 
Mark, how do you solve the pain of amplifying your content after it's written, so you do get those social signals? Especially if you're not a huge brand (personal or otherwise). Lots of people create great content that never gets shared.
 
+Henley Wing what I tell people is this: It's not enough to just create great content. You've got to simultaneously be building strong networks on your key social media platforms. By that I mean investing the time to build real relationships with key people on those networks. Become useful to them, and when you share your content, you've got an almost automatic distribution system in place. 
 
Too man people think they can just post links to their content on SM and that's it. The fact is, most people won't care about your content until they've come to care about you.
 
Thanks Mark. That makes a lot of sense. Posting to Twitter/FB without those relationships is definitely not a distribution strategy. 

BTW, I'm planning to write a post for Inbound.org where I interview content marketers on how they solve some of the most common pains. Can I include your insightful response in the post (with attribution + a link to Virante)?
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