How Social Media Plays into Search Rankings for a Search Engine Optimization Expert

Staff Writer: Carolyn Johnson


Date: 7.25.2012




There has been the question among many a search engine optimization expert on whether Google ranks pages based on social media signals. How much does your activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+ affect the search rankings of pages listed in Google? SEO experts and webmasters have been investigating this for some time now, and may have come across some answers.


Personalization has also become a big part of the Google ranking process. When you’re logged into Google, Google will assemble your searches based on your preferences and previous search history. Yet the question isn’t just about how personalization affects Google rankings, but also if sharing on social sites affects personalized and non-personalized search rankings.


Studies performed by Google have shown that a large percentage of users for Google+ are selective in the things they share with others. Thus others see social signals as a personal thing.


On the other hand, public sharing, such as what’s found on Twitter, will impact Google search. Google representatives have claimed that they do indeed use Twitter updates and retweets as social signals. Twitter serves as an organic signal for news updates, as well as making note of how many people shared an article over the social media site.


So really, social elements don’t so much heavily influence Google rankings as they serve as a social display element. It’s good for a search engine optimization expert to remember that there are different kinds of social signals, and not all of them heavily influence the ranking and re-ranking of Google results. The two of the most relevant signals to the social media conversation include discovery and velocity signals. Social media has a solid foothold on the discovery aspect, as a site’s rankings can drop if it isn’t properly indexed and can’t be shared and exposed to other users.


Some SEO experts argue about other potential social signals that could play a part in Google rankings. These include:

  • Posting links and comments on a social media site, which contains news, images, podcasts and web pages.
  • The promotion or “likes” for content listed in search results. This also goes for demoting content
  • Sending a link via email or instant message to other user
  • Having a purchase history for a specific website, such as Amazon


All of these would likely have an impact on personalized searches, particularly if a user was logged into Google. For an open, non-logged-in search to yield such personal results, on the other hand, may make search results complex and messy, especially alternating between personal and non-persona rankings.


There have been talks between SEO experts on how different social media sites should have more of an impact on search engine rankings than others, based on authority and trust. If the sharing entity is a more trustworthy source of news and facts than perhaps other spam sites, shouldn’t the must trustworthy social sources have considerable more weight in Google rankings? This can also decrease the amount of spam that is found in Google search results. The quality of your interactions and contributions will likely give heed to how trustworthy a search engine deems you to be. All you have to do is make sure your good links are good, and that you have no bad or seedy links.


The question of whether social media signals have an impact on Google search results is indeed a complicated one. SEO experts are still in the process of studying and mastering how to rank search results with social signals.

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