Do Improved Social Signals Cause Improved Rankings?

By willcritchlow, SEOMOZ:

Everyone in search is by now aware that certain social signals are well-correlated with rankings.

In each major study published on the subject, the authors point to how correlation does not imply causation (see, for example SEOmoz and Searchmetrics). Dr. Pete even wrote a whole post on the subject.

I wanted to see if it was actually plausible for these correlations to arise without social signals being a direct ranking factor. I built some Excel models to test this out and see if I could build a model that achieved the observed correlations without assuming social signals as a ranking factor.

The punchline: it’s possible there is no causation

I have a suspicion that this could be the most misinterpreted post I have ever written, so I thought I’d start with a prominent “Cliff notes” to be explicitly clear about what I am saying and more importantly what I am not saying… Read more

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