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Everyone is talking about Google’s new “social signals” for ranking. Do you know what that means for your business? Will you rank well in Google without using Facebook and Twitter? Don’t worry – we can easily explain what “social signals” will mean for your business.

I want you to think of your search engine rankings like a tent. Your “tent” is your online authority. Each tent pole is an anchor that helps hold your tent down. Think of the number of searches that are done each day as your tent – which is about to be blown over by the wind.


The image above is a HUGE tent pole, like the big one you’d see at the center of a circus tent. If your web site were a tent, the huge tent pole would probably be your home page and it’s authority. If your homepage has ENOUGH authority (like the big tent pole) it probably won’t get lost in search rankings (it won’t blow away).

online ranking factors

Look at the tent in the image above. It has one main huge tent pole in the center, and then about 10 smaller anchoring tent poles around the outside. If that circus tent were your web site, the supporting perimeter poles would include your online social signals – and other things that supported your online authority.

Look at this image – which directly illustrates what “social signals” are like in Google and what they mean to search rankings. Using social media can only help augment your brand online. You may be able to survive with “one tent pole”, but if you firmly want to “anchor” yourself deeply in search results, using social media to help do that will give you more online authority.


You want to “build up” your Twitter and Facebook accounts just like you were raising those supporting tent poles. Grow a following, interact with people, expand your base and online authority.

Direct Evidence that Social Signals Count

So far, this article has been little more than analogy and hype to convince you (yet again) that you should be using social media in your online marketing strategy. We HATE posts of that nature that don’t provide specifics (which are usually not much more than regurgitated info-rhetoric).

Google Ranking Signals

Google using social media in search ranking is a fairly new topic to 2011. But the conversation started back in December 2010 when Search Engine Land actually interviewed the Google team responsible for the google search ranking algorithm. Note – NOT the web spam team (headed by Matt Cutts), but the team actually responsible for ranking. They indicated months ago in that interview that social results would be part of the ranking algorithm, but (as always) couldn’t provide specifics, only general concepts.

And this is a synopsis of what they said…

Let’s say somebody is searching for something, and they FOLLOW you in social media. As a result (of them following you) YOUR CONTENT is more likely to come up in THEIR SEARCH RESULTS!


When it comes down to it, (now) using social media isn’t about being the cool kid on the block, using the latest buzzwords, or staying trendy and relevant – it means that you’re getting in front of a customer’s face MORE OFTEN.

What “More Often” Really Means in Results

We were at a loss of what to call this new found social relevance in results, until we read this free SEOMoz post about Tweets Effect Rankings: Unexpected Case Study.

In that post they use the term “Author Authority“. If you tweet things and people “like” your brand – your “author authority” will increase. This more “likes” and “retweets” you get on a regular basis – the more “author authority” you will have.

This means that in order to do business online you must realize the following:

  • Just because you have a successful online brand, doesn’t automatically mean your social media will be successful (without work)
  • Social media are separate, yet complementary anchors to online authority overall
  • You must build social “author authority” to complement your online authority


All in all, if you’re going to do business online – you need a broad online marketing strategy, that includes social signals as well as other elements. Set your anchors deep for good search rankings. Do you want your tent to blow away?

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