Just over a year ago in February of 2011 I did a post on “social media” and “social signals” called Social Media 101 “Algorithmically Speaking”.
The post detailed how social media was a necessary component of search marketing and how “social signals” likely effected search engine rankings, if not at that time, would soon thereafter.
The idea, at least publicly, that social signals could or would influence rankings began a while back in 2010 but the buzz has grown significantly since search engines have admitted they use “social signals”, and they continue to be more and more forthcoming on these topics.
For instance, in Google’s list of algorithm changes in March:
Better indexing of profile pages. [launch codename “Prof-2”] This change improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.
Updates to personalization signals. [project codename “PSearch“] This change updates signals used to personalize search results.
So the real question left is, not “if”, but:
- How much influence does it have on positions in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing?
- And out of all social media channels available, which ones are the ones which influence it the most?
A search marketing company called TastyPlacement.com did a small, but very interesting study including the most popular social sites that most marketers are using: Twitter.com, Facebook.com and Google+. The firm conducted the study with five (5) separate sites and although not conclusive, suggests Google+ as the most dominant player – and it most likely is (at least in my opionion), because for Google, it’s more complete. They have more access to the data, they are directly behind the wheel of the way they gather it, the steps in confirming it and validating its accuracy, and they likely have more of a means of utilizing it.
Confirmation from Google:
Below is a video from Dec 17, 2010 in which Google’s Matt Cutts, who if you do not know who he is, works for the Search Quality group in Google, explains that Google does in fact use social signals and that they had been using them for some time prior to this video, although they have been working on improving which signals to trust or apply merit to. The article he referenced in the video written by Danny Sullivan is here.