There are many external factors that come in to play when Google determines which site is the highest quality for this user, including social signals. In this Ask An SEO Expert feature, Bradley Smith, SEO Consultant at Slingshot SEO, explains how social comes in to play when building authority in the eyes of Google today and what that role will be in the future.
How heavy does a Facebook share or Twitter post back to your site weigh into major search algorithms?
I think we should take a look back at Google's real time results before we get into that.
So, Google previously had real time results, where they had Twitter feeds coming in to the Google search engine result page. Where somebody would do a search and if the search warranted it, they would pull in Twitter results.
That actually ended July 2nd, 2011, and around that time between roughly, June and September of that same year they had rolled out Google+. Google is now tracking information off of their own social network.
Back to the question of Facebook share and Twitter posts, I'm going to add a Plus post, so Google+ post. If somebody does a post, how does that weigh into how a site ranks?
To answer that question, I would say it depends probably on the size of the network. Google previously had the open graph API where you saw quickly how they understood networks.
Within that, it's logical to see that they're also able to understand the links within the networks. The size of the network, obviously Facebook have the most users, I would say there's probably some sort of factor there; where is the link, where is the share coming from. Twitter is a little bit smaller and, of course, Google+ is catching up with users.
So, I would say it probably depends on the size of the network. First of all, where is the link coming from?
em>Then, I would say another piece of that is the social standing of the user. How many users are following that person? How often do they share? How often does the content that they share get shared?
Well, Google still has Google+ ripples, so if you go to Google+ and you look and see a specific post has been shared, you can click the little drop down arrow. You can click "view the ripples".
Google then shows you how that post was shared and how it was shared by other people. It's got kind of a "tree and leaf" example. That just tells us that Google also understands how well somebody's content gets shared. How often does that person's content get shared? What is the social standing of the user? Again, not only users followed, how often they share, but also how often their content gets shared.
Then, I would also say that raises the question of links versus social shares.
Well, just this year at SMX 2012, Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts sat down and had a video, that they talked about the importance of links versus social. Even dated back to 2010 where Matt Cutts was talking about how social signals are going to begin to play a role in search engine result pages.
But here at SMX 2012 Danny Sullivan asked Matt Cutts directly, and Matt Cutts basically said that links are not out of the question yet. Links are still in the picture, and social while it giving out a lot of good signals right now, it's going to be even bigger in the future. Could we see social playing a bigger role in the future, yes quite possibly but we can't write links as an algorithm metric off just yet.
And then, the last part of that question, Facebook share, a tweet or a Plus post, how that factors into a website's ranking? I would also say it depends on the freshness of the industry, so the requirements of the industry.
In November, 2011, Google rolled out the freshness algorithm which meant that for some industries, key industries that they were able to identify, some industries would require a fresher set of results.
For instance, you do a search when the Olympics are around for swimming, Olympics, and you don't want results from the Olympics in 1920 or whatever the year was, you want results from this year's Olympics.
Google understands that automatically when you type that search in, and so they are going to return fresh results, based on the results of the industry that you're searching in.
Think about that in terms of social. Google can understand the social network and when people are posting specifically around an industry in the social network, so they understand when buzz is being generated in that industry. Therefore, they can take some of those results and have them factor in differently into the search engine result pages.
I hope that answered your question. It was kind of a long answer, but I'm glad to answer.
Keep asking social questions. I love it!