How big an impact do Social signals have on Search engine Rankings?

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Firstly, it is worth bearing in mind that if a searcher is getting personalised results (if they are signed in) and they are a fan of your business, it is highly likely that you will appear higher up their search page. The same goes if they have been visiting you a lot. So it is worth getting them to your site often as that will increase the chance that they will come back even more!

But, I think that we need to look at this from a non-personalised point of view.

It appears that one of the things that Google found in a recent study on social sharing is that it is inherently more PERSONAL than broadcast channels and as so may not be as big of a ranking factor as some people think.

On the other hand, a huge study performed by Search Metrics: http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2012/06/07/us-and-uk-seo-ranking-factors-2012/
showed a strong correlation between social signals and Google rankings. (correlation, not necessarily causation)

It is likely, that social metrics are used to factor into a trust and authority score in some way but not all of them. Google have recently  come out and said that +1 are not a good quality indicator at the moment. If you think about it, Social media and the platforms it uses change so quickly that if would be very hard to use indicators such as likes or Tweets to influence rankings because of how fast the landscape changes.

To the extent that Google can identify users, it may have an effect on rankings, but probably not the individual sites.

Social media is of huge benefit to a business but probably not from an SEO point of view.

Read more here:

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2184210/How-Much-Do-Social-Signals-Play-Into-Google-Rankings

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Does your site pass the Red Pen Test?

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SEO best practices have changes massively with the recent Google Panda and Penguin updates.

It used to be the case that the best way to optimise a site for a particular keyword basically involved trying to get that keyword in as much as possible without it looking too unnatural or spoiling it for the visitor.

Google is getting smarter though! They can basically now tell if your use of language is unnatural and is being twisted to fit in keywords.

Here is an example:

If you have a site selling pens, the standard SEO technique would be to put in keywords exactly as a searcher would type them. So you might have, Felt tip Pens, Biro Pens, Marker Pens etc. in your menu. But given that your visitor knows that they are on a site about pens, they would be perfectly able to understand a menu that said: Felt tip, Marker, Biro etc. and in fact, adding the word ‘pen’ to each line makes it more cumbersome.

Google is now able to spot this sort of thing and is actively penalising it.

If you have had any sort of SEO done on your site, it is imperative that you check that your site passes the new test.

See the full test here:
http://seobraintrust.com/red-pen-test/

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