The Evolution of Link Building and The Importance of Social Signals

Google has popularized the topic “link building” in the late 90s and early 2000. It was a revolution at that time, due to the fact that for the first time a search engine used the links to identify the most relevant pages for a given topic.

Nevertheless, as it is known, spammers had quickly understood the algorithm and were able to exploit the gaps, creating a wide range of unorthodox ways to generate links.

Before the advent of Google, however, the links were not a significant factor in ranking.

At that time, each unpaid link was solely based on merit, because who linked to another site or a page had no other reasons or purposes for doing so.

Even the purchase of banners or ads originally were only based on how the advertiser evaluated the traffic generated by a particular site and how much he was willing to pay for this type of exposure, as there were no other SEO benefits.

In a nutshell: the links were an indicator of better quality when the world did not know that these were a factor in placement.

Search Engines vs. Link Building

Search engines (and above all Google lately) are constantly looking for additional indicators to provide better results for a given search, and to make more difficult the job of those who practice Black Hat SEO, which often work in order to rank sites of poor quality or little use to users.

See for istance at this search result, after Penguin Google’s latest update, for the term “Viagra” :

"Viagra" term SERP


Google failed to link the official Viagra site and listed four WebSPAM sites instead. See Search Engine Land article for more examples, where it is indicated that Bing did this time a better job than Google.

The increase in attention to the social signals is part of the search engines update process, whose objective is to scale the value of links to classical organic positioning in favor of interactions, indications and shares by users on social media (Google Plus integrated in SERPs).

However, social signals are not as easy to interpret and may also be a source of “rumour”, not always ensuring the quality of a given page or website.

For example, Bing some time ago, in order to determine the results in SERP, has tried using the references of users on social media as of votes, in the same way it was calculated the value of a link, but this test was too skewed towards the amount of social signals to the detriment of the quality and authority. It did not worked well and this is why Bing had to backtrack and recalibrate its algorithm.

Like Bing, also Google is trying to mix in its algorithm several factors, including social signals, in order to generate SERP results contaminated by external factors and signs of different types.

This evolution of the external factors of positioning in favor of social media, should push those who make SEO to not carry the usual link building, but rather to plan social media activities that generate shares, quotes, like me, +1, retweet , and so on.

Tips for Effective Link Building

The first step is to focus on where is located your audience (for istance the sites visited, the videos looked, the content read).

The useful social signals for your rankings can be generated by your potential customers and readers or by those who publish on the web content that interests them.

Potential customers and readers create social signals in several ways:

- talking about you on social media;

- visiting your site;

- looking for your brand name;

- searching the products or services like yours, and clicking on the results pointing to your site;

- talking about you on blogs and forums.

And many other methods, as well as the above mentioned ones.

People talking to each other

The Evolution of Link Building and The Importance of Social Signals – Click to Tweet

Which are the ways to encourage the creation of this type of social signals?

You should certainly focus on the authority and try to become a reference point of your niche. Even if you are not yet, you can work in order to get your name noticed by other influential bloggers, establishing a relationship of trust.

Here are some specific suggestions on how to do:

1 . Managing a Blog : Produce Content that Will Be Shared

First and obvious tip. Do it only if you are able to provide high quality and original content regularly. A blog is an ongoing effort.

You need to produce content that it is worth to be shared from your readers, write something that creates interest, something unique, like guides, news, tutorials, interviews, infographics.

See some articles about blogging that you can find interesting :

20+1 Things To Do After Installing WordPress

7 Tips on How to Increase Your Pageviews and Decrease Bounce Rate

11 Mistakes that a Good Blogger Should Avoid .

2 . Plan a Proper Social Media Presence

Become an active member of a social media community. Note that it is better to master one social network effectively, rather than make a little or not correct work on different social media accounts. Read more :

Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Boost Your Business ;

How to Use Twitter : Tutorial for Beginners ;

Important Things to Keep in Mind while Formulate Marketing Strategy .

3 . Join Triberr

Triberr is fantastic community site created by Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo. After you sign up, you simply need to set up your account with your Twitter ID and your RSS Feeds.

The system automatically will let your triberr members tweet your new posts, giving them also the opportunity to share them via many others social media channels : this amplifies the market reach of your content.

Retweeting ChartYou can choose which tribe you want to be part of and create your own new tribe, inviting new members to join you.

I strongly suggest you to sign up to Triberr today, it’s free.

4 . Write and Submit Guest Posts

In a guest post you can usually insert links pointing directly to your blog or other sites of your interests.

You should also consider that, in terms of SEO, a link inserted within content is worth much more than a link on the footer of a blog or in the blogroll.

You can reach with guest posting more audience and the readers of the blog you are submitting your article.

5 .  Build Relationships

Even if you can not manage a blog or build a social media campaign, you can still be part of different communities. Comment on blogs, forums, videos, or on any media used by your potential customers and readers.

Not only for work, but take also the opportunity to build relationships online. It is a great advantage of internet, with blogging and social media, to meet interesting people and you can learn a lot from them.


The last years have made us all aware of the growing importance of social media, announcing the end of the traditional link building.

The birth of Google Plus is a clear indication of how user behavior has become a new factor in search engine positioning.

We should expect this trend to continue and probably accelerate. So it is reasonable to think that in order to get your site on top of the SERP, not only you need to receive backlinks from authoritative sites, and similar to yours, but you also need social signals.

Google and the other search engines will continue to make efforts in this direction, trying to understand how people judge a website, because their aim is to be as close as possible to the human evaluation.

The process is already underway and you should be prepared to adapt your SEO and link building strategies, aligning with the changes and do not fall behind the evolution.


How do you think it will change in future?


About Erik Emanuelli

Hi! I am Erik Emanuelli : entrepreneur, traveler and blogger. You can follow me on Twitter, add me on Facebook or circle me on Google.


  1. Hi Erik,
    Nicely written as per usual.
    It actually raises a question for me, one of our most successful link building avenues is YouTube. The links back to our site are always picked up by my good friends at Google (yes I know why) but I am wondering is there a way to leverage this. For example is there a way to embed a tweet, FB like or delicious share to the video? Our videos are truly useful and I frequently get phone calls and emails to thank me but from SEO point of view a bonus link would be better. Not that I don’t like the praise mind you.
    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Alec,
      for what I know about SEO benefits from YouTube, is the PR 9 dofollow backlink that you receive in your account, inserting your URL.
      After this,
      when you create a nice YouTube video, let’s say a tutorial, a guide or something really useful to users, be sure to optimize everything when you upload it, as Google will list your video in the SERPs, depending on the description, title, like, etc.
      So yes, YouTube can benefits you a lot.
      Ileane from is very experienced in Youtube optimization.
      I suggest you her link :
      Let me know!

      • Thanks Erik,
        I will take some time over the next few days to get into her content. Straight up I can see her channel itself has 10x the amount of subscribers with half the page views that I have. Admittedly the content I use is more specific but thats still a huge difference. She also has more calls to action with that goal in mind just looking at her channel page.
        Thankyou for the information. It is really appreciated.

  2. Hi Erik,
    I can only say three words: true, true, true.
    As we discussed here these days Google isn’t search engine, which give us best results. Now we should get traffic from other sources – social media, forums, other blogs.
    BTW – thanks for mentioning my post!
    BR, Chris

    • Chris,
      I have even read by the forum moderators of Webmasters Tools, that Google wants to force small and medium business to use Adwords.
      I do not know if it’s true or not, but there is always space for 10 URLs on the main page of search results on Google, right?
      So the question is : how do we get there?
      (My pleasure for the mention).

  3. thnx for the mention, Erik. Much appreciated :-)

    Founder of Triberr

  4. Congratulations Erik, very good post, very informative, and with very good examples.

    SEO is now a revolution under Penguin, and we can find simple examples here for trying to improve our skills.

    It’s a great pleasure to read this kind of posts, not just because there are informative, but because it’s easy to read, easy to understand and easy to apply.

  5. Thanks Erik. Yes, sometimes Google search misses the mark. A lot of times the better quality content is not even on the first page of a Google search!

    • Hi Niall, how are you?
      You are at 70% completing you new site, correct?
      I am very curious what will be the very next future of searches results with Google.
      Meantime, it is a wise decision to invest in other forms of traffic, such as referrals.

      • I’m getting around 11% search engine traffic on the other blog of my mine so yeah, the referrals and other traffic forms make up the rest!

        Design By Niall hasn’t been advertised yet really, but it’s somehow got an Alexa Rank. Strange! No, I need to change that! It’s around 50% finished at the moment I’d say. I have the design more or less done but still need to code it for the website.

        Have a great weekend!

  6. Great post, thanks for letting me know about Triberr

  7. SMO is not an option nowadays. Apart from the great results in the engagement of the network, SMO is “”mandatory”” for your website/blog’s SEO. For increasing rank and entering Google’s 1st page, the best shoot is to use social media since you will not only SEO your site but you will also start creating an engaging and influencial relationship with your target market.
    The tips given above are great, so i the only thing missing is how to increase your network in social media.
    Personally, after setting up my accounts in Facebook,Twitter,Google+ and Pinterest, i bought some traffic and followers using Hourlies.
    There are many ways to increase your network, i choose to do it fast with Hourlies by

  8. Thanks for sharing a important information with us as they are really helpful and much appreciated for getting site rank on search engine

  9. Hi Erik
    Thanks for this great post !

    Submitting guest posts and building relationships socially will help you go a long way in social media optimization.


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