Angie Pascal, had a great article on ClickZ last week titled 7 Legitimate Ways That Social Media Impacts SEO. In it she points out the social media is not the be all, end all answer to winning the SEO game. Nor is it a massive waste of time when it comes to natural search.
She hits the nail on the head saying social’s impact to SEO most likely falls someplace in the middle.
Ms. Pascal is careful to point out the stated position on social from Google. “This middle ground is more likely the true situation at this point. It's unclear what the engines will do in the future, but Matt Cutts says that Google will never factor in direct social actions (i.e., Facebook Likes, retweets, and even +1s). He stated that Google has made attempts to incorporate this information into the algorithm, but it became too difficult to organize and quantify, and therefore, Google does not and will not include it.”
Regardless, Angie Pascal goes on to outline seven very real, very legit points on how social media can have a positive impact on SEO.
I encourage you to read her article but before I leave you, I want to call out one of her points in particular. Her point “Brand Signals” is very interesting as it highlights something that I've been picking up in professional conversation and reading which is what Google calls co-citation. This is where a brand is mentioned in an online piece but is only static text, not a hyperlink. Google considers this co-citation as a Brand Signal which aides your SEO.
Co-citation equating to a Brand Signal is great news especially for brands that are being written about where the author has no vested interest in linking back to the brand in question. Now I don’t know, but I do suspect a hyperlink would be better, but this news on co-citation can only make search better.
Love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment below.