Social Media and Google: How Twitter and Facebook Can Build Your Search Rankings
Anticipating trends in Google's complex search algorithms is the holy grail of search engine marketing — and for years, many online marketers have operated under the assumption that social media signals play an increasingly vital role in building page rankings.
Are they right?
The answer to this question is less clear than you think. On the "yes" side, you'll find deeply knowledgeable Web analysts and marketing specialists who claim the most compelling data is in their corner. On the "no" side is Google, stating more than once that social media doesn't play a direct role in search engine rankings. If you believe Google to be a simple, straightforward company, then the search giant's denials might be the only answer you need. But the evidence to the contrary is compelling, significant and impossible to ignore.
So what should you believe? Just how effectively can sites like Twitter and Facebook help marketers build their rankings, if at all? And how deeply should you venture down the social media rabbit hole to improve the rankings for your business? Knowledge is power in all facets of online marketing, so we'll answer these questions by breaking down each side of this issue.
YES: Social Signals Cause Improved Rankings
The prevailing view among many online marketing experts is that Facebook and Twitter do play a role in search rankings. In many cases, marketers have found that liking or sharing Facebook posts, tweeting or retweeting links and +1ing posts on Google+ seems to benefit page rankings. And these benefits don't appear to be marginal; according to a 2013 study by Searchmetrics, Google's algorithms valued Google+ and Facebook shares as being more important for rankings than backlinks, which are historically the bread and butter of search engine marketing.
Two interesting case studies attempted to provide more definitive answers regarding the importance of social media signals in Google. The first study, by Shrushti.com, attempted to use social media to rank a page containing the keyword "Argos Voucher Codes March 2013." At first, the page they were using (which had just two lines of duplicate content) was ranked in the 400th position for its keyword query. After a few days, their page jumped to the top of the rankings in Google.co.uk — without using backlinks.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.