Google Announces Social Media to Influence Search Rankings

Google LogoA few days ago Matt Cutts of the Google Web Search Quality Team announced that Google is going to start factoring signals from social networks such as Twitter and Facebook in their search engine rankings and results. This marks a shift from a video Cutts made in May 2010 in which he reported Google was not looking at social results.  Used heavily in real time search results in the past (such as in streaming tweets which have appeared above the regular results in the past), Cutts now reports that “[Google is] studying how much sense it makes to use it a little more widely within our web search rankings.”  He of course reminds us that pages which can’t be crawled, such as Twitter users which have protected their tweets or Facebook users with strict privacy settings, cannot be indexed by Google’s crawlers and of course will have no effect on rankings.

He reports that these social signals are used relatively lightly for now, but may begin to influence more heavily in the future as they gauge their effectiveness over time.  Something Google also wants to look at in terms of ranking influence is not just the number of social followers or friends a user may have, but the quality of those friends.  Obviously, just like they want to weed out spam and automated links to pages, Google also wants to weed out social accounts which are little more than bots or have artificially inflated their follower count.

So what does this mean to business and brand owners interested in leveraging social media for search engine rankings?  Really nothing, if you’ve already developed a smart and effective social media strategy. It just means Google is finally catching up to you.  If you haven’t begun to develop a social media strategy, then this should just be one more very strong reason to begin getting involved.

Tags: facebook, google, seo

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Comments

42 Responses to “Google Announces Social Media to Influence Search Rankings”

  1. Omer @ Outlines Design Studio on June 15th, 2011 8:52 pm

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for sharing this – I am excited to see how Google will use Twitter/FB for its search ranking. What about youTube? since it is such a major player I was wondering if Google considers a site’s popularity in it. Can you use it for SEO?

  2. zindadilpakistan on August 5th, 2011 12:41 pm

    Hi, Good news for website owners from Google. People spend much of their time on social media to advertise their websites to achieve high Google ranking and back links. People will put more efforts to develop more smart and effective social media strategies. So finally Google will catch us up. :) Thanks Google.

  3. Mel Lifshitz on August 25th, 2011 4:24 pm

    Social Media and Search would definitely has a long way to go. Considering now that Google just launched their Google +.

  4. Sally O'Connor on October 7th, 2011 2:31 am

    Reading this a bit late .. moot point now I suppose. Although Social media will only continue to get even bigger and more prominent as it evolves from static to live to virtual. With Facebook integrating with Skype, and many of the others joining forces, hopefully it won’t throw off my SM link wheels.

    Cheers,
    Sally O

  5. mark_besnos on October 14th, 2011 4:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing this idea – I am excited to see how Google will use Twitter/Facebook for its search ranking. What about youTube – since it is such a major player I was wondering if Google considers a site’s popularity in it. Can you use it for Search Engine Optimization

  6. employee time tracking on October 20th, 2011 5:57 am

    Definitely Google would give importance to it but how much because there are over 200 hundred matrics that Google count to analyse a website ans rank. There are many websites who are just doing social media optimization as a separate tool to get traffic so the traffic is the main figure either it comes through the SEO or SMO etc.

  7. Ashley on December 14th, 2011 9:57 am

    I really don’t consider this good news. It seems this leaves companies at the mercy of individuals. Every time I seem to get a handle on SEO techniques, Google changes everything.

  8. John @ Tucson web design on March 20th, 2012 3:53 pm

    Hey Barry,

    Nice post. Social signals are definitely increasing in importance, but I think it’ll be a while before they are truly significant, at least compared to more traditional signals. But I agree that it’s definitely wise to get a social media strategy in place.

  9. Nashville Web Design - Thomas Bennett on March 30th, 2012 4:22 pm

    Google +1 has been a huge asset in search rankings and circles!!

  10. Seo on April 4th, 2012 11:11 am

    Actually with the “Search Plus Your World” feature, social signals influence search rankings a lot.

  11. Daniel Chege on May 21st, 2012 2:41 pm

    Thanks Barry Wise for Matt Cutts Video about Social Media Marketing on how far it has come and still growing.
    - Daniel Chege

  12. Jim Homeopath on May 25th, 2012 12:26 am

    The plus one button is definitely good news for SEO i think… I think search engines will need to work out the best way forward with using social search’s..

  13. Andrea on June 6th, 2012 7:33 pm

    Finally google catches up. I think this is great and have already seen this happen when I search!

  14. Web Design Coventry on June 13th, 2012 4:41 am

    I always thought that part of googles algorithm allowed for social activities and this confirms my suspicions, many thanks !

  15. Linda on June 28th, 2012 8:02 pm

    It’s good to know that all the effort I put into the social media sites is worth it… well, I hope it is! If only I could find a way to do it without eating up so much precious time!

  16. Daniel Marcos on June 29th, 2012 10:20 am

    Very good. We must have a strategy of social media on our sites. Returns more customer

  17. Dave Clements on July 10th, 2012 8:48 am

    Bringing in the social element really helps to improve the quality of search indexes in my opinion. Computers can make fairly educated guesses about how good a page’s content is, but the reaction of the people will ultimately be a good indicator of how well written and how useful an article is.

  18. k2bsolutions on July 16th, 2012 7:43 am

    yes it is, google encourage social media promotions, since it should be genuine way to getting traffic. nowadays facebook, twitter, linkedin generates organic traffic, i think it helps generate traffic

    thanks

  19. Derek Maak on August 2nd, 2012 3:06 pm

    Hey Barry,

    I think social media will start having a larger impact on SEO, but I’m still undecided about just how much it will play into overall rankings. Still seems to me like it’s pretty easy to manipulate just like spamming backlinks. Glad to hear Google will be looking at not just numbers, but also the quality of the followers, likes, etc.

  20. Brian Taylor on August 29th, 2012 6:23 am

    Twitter is one of the greatest source for promoting our website. Every re-tweets counted as a signal and is employed in news and organic rankings. This is also used to perk up our news universal by indicating the number of people who shared a particular article. Its one of the factors for ranking improvement.

  21. Michaela on September 9th, 2012 8:24 am

    I am curious to see how Google will use social media for its search ranking O_o ?!! Thanks for sharing !

  22. MieleAtlanta on September 12th, 2012 10:36 am

    Social media is huge not only for SEO, but for communicating and interacting with your customers or community. The future of internet marketing is properly using social media.

  23. Gerard on December 2nd, 2012 12:30 pm

    Google used this tactic for years. Everyone in the SEO business knows it. They are just revealing these stuff now to get more attention.

  24. Rich Blogger on December 29th, 2012 11:20 am

    Yep, yep, yep. This is a no brainer. I feel it’s very important that people realize that it’s quality of friends/followers and not just the amount of friends and followers. If you quickly build your social media presence by having a bunch of phony friends and followers, then that won’t help you at all. Build, strong, real links to people and then the results will come. Thanks for posting.

  25. Mark K. on January 12th, 2013 7:48 pm

    Fantastic article! I think it’s a good thing that they’re putting more of an emphasis on social networks for rankings. There are so many people that share so many things that it would be foolish not to. I’m interested to see what the future holds as far as rankings go, because I wouldn’t be surprised if social media is going to be one of the top factors.

  26. Internet Marketing Advantage on January 20th, 2013 7:36 am

    Between Google’s (relatively) recent authorship functionality and Plus 1′s, the tighter integration of Google’s search results against your social circles, interest groups and personal link preferences… this is definitely going to make the internet marketing landscape a considerably more interesting place to live in. Exciting times!

  27. web design berkshires ma on January 25th, 2013 7:45 am

    changes, changes, changes… that is the only thing constant about seo. yes social signals is a big deal an pay attention to it – Google+ is important as is Google Authorship.

    keep learning and trying!

  28. Deer Valley on January 27th, 2013 4:02 pm

    We’re still seeing some very good results from social activity in the start of 2013.

  29. Digitaledge on January 31st, 2013 6:10 am

    Hi Barry,

    Once again this is very helpful post. We are slowly and steadily expanding our social media campaigns to promote our contents. Will definitely use your tips.

    Thank you.

  30. Michael Smith on February 2nd, 2013 9:56 pm

    I think this is a trend that will only continue for the foreseeable future. Considering the fact that social media is now one of the primary sources for searching for information, it is only reasonable that social media should affect search engine results. The amount of times an article is shared should be considered a relevant piece of information when conducting a search, just like any other backlink has been considered valuable in the past.

    Also, it seems like the timing is in response to Facebook announcing it’s new search-engine, no?

  31. Jennifer on February 5th, 2013 4:23 pm

    This is just another reason why we HAVE to be paying attention to social media. Like you said, I just hope they’re able to efficiently weed out the spammers and superficially inflated follower counts – or else things are going to get REALLY messy!

    Thanks for the great article!

  32. Whale Watching Sydney on February 12th, 2013 12:38 am

    My initial impression is that social signals will help give a much more honest indication of a sites authority but what happens when automation and cheap services like fiverr continue to take over offering 500 G+’s etc. It seems the ball is really in the social media giants hands to eradicate spammy users!

  33. Kevin Frank on February 12th, 2013 7:51 pm

    I have been reading more and more on how social media is changing the seo game. We just added a more aggressive ‘share’ button to our blog in hopes that this will actually help our rankings. To early to tell but it makes sense that google would be watching for this. If people share a page or blog post, why wouldn’t google reward that? To me, it is an easy way for google to judge the quality of content and it’s appeal to readers.

  34. Gabriela on March 15th, 2013 7:47 am

    I really don’t consider this good news. It seems this leaves companies at the mercy of individuals. Every time I seem to get a handle on SEO techniques, Google changes everything.

  35. Red Website Design on March 24th, 2013 6:18 am

    Does anyone have any hard evidence of increased tweets and likes improving search engine ranking? It’s likely this was Google’s way of making Google+ seem more important to increase the number of people using it.

  36. James on March 27th, 2013 11:25 pm

    Fantastic article! I think it’s a good thing that they’re putting more of an emphasis on social networks for rankings. There are so many people that share so many things that it would be foolish not to. I’m interested to see what the future holds as far as rankings go, because I wouldn’t be surprised if social media is going to be one of the top factors.

  37. Ana on April 8th, 2013 1:58 pm

    Social media has always been a weakness on my website, I don’t have a lot of time to spend on social media sites when there are like 10 of them that i need to work on like facebook, google plus, twitter, pinngler, ect.. maybe i should hired an intern for the social media stuff.

  38. Mac @ 36creative on May 13th, 2013 12:02 pm

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Social signals are quickly entering the ranks when it comes to building authority online ultimately leading to better rankings. I wouldn’t use social media just for the sake of increasing rankings but rather use it for an engagement tool.

  39. Paul on May 26th, 2013 11:56 am

    It seems Google changes it algorithm just about every time I change my underwear…yes everyday. We are at the mercy of Penguins and Pandas and possibly another wild animal in the near future.

    It is almost impossible for the small online business owner to compete with the bigger – heavily staffed businesses that can pay them to do social interaction for them.

  40. devito on July 21st, 2013 1:15 pm

    Between Google’s (relatively) recent authorship functionality and Plus 1′s, the tighter integration of Google’s search results against your social circles, interest groups and personal link preferences

  41. Virtual Tour Provider on August 17th, 2013 12:55 am

    Thanks for this article!. It is really awesome and great. Yes, i completely agree from Google +1 has been a huge asset in search rankings and circles!!

  42. Bay City Web Design on September 1st, 2013 11:54 pm

    Wow! I can’t believe that Google is going to be using social media like this. I guess it is a good idea. If only Facebook pages were more Google Friendly and they all could work together to create good backlink opportunities! Thanks for the post!