The Research Is In: How Important Are Facebook And Twitter For Your Google Rankings?

By Ana Hoffman
14 Comments

Today, our triangle of the most important ingredients to ranking well on Google, as suggested by SEOMoz’s search engine ranking factors report and interpreted by yours truly, will be finally completed as we drill down into how social media influences our search engine rankings.

By the way, I’d love for you to let me know how well I did with my debut on Entrepreneurs-Journey, so don’t be shy and give me a shout in the comment section below.

So far we’ve talked about how exactly your content directly influences your rankings, as well as how to effectively use that content to attract quality backlinks.

Check out my previous posts below:

And now the overwhelming, all-present, and powerful social media – what exactly does it have to do with your search engine rankings and how do you use it to your advantage?

Social Media Signals

If a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s start with this screenshot:

best social media search engine ranking factors

According to the 132 world’s leading SEO experts polled for SEOMoz report, most important social-media based factors appear to be:

  1. Authority of tweeters
  2. Number of tweets
  3. Number of FB shares
  4. Authority of sharers

It comes as no surprise that Google might have a way to measure “human” authority on Twitter.

After all, that’s what Klout score, as controversial as it is, is all about as well. If they can figure out how to put a number on your and my sphere of influence, you bet Google can do it and probably do it a whole lot better without a doubt.

Notice that shares on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Google Buzz don’t matter much, if at all.

I wonder how Google+ will stand up to this… Will it quickly become a thing of the past as so many other Google projects like Google Wave and Google Buzz, or is it here to stay? Only time will tell, I suppose.

Anyway, back to the post.

Before you run off to work on becoming an authority figure on Twitter, let me show you yet another screenshot:

facebook as social engine ranking factor

This image is not based on the expert opinion; rather it’s based upon correlations with higher rankings in Google’s top 30 web search results.

The majority of the websites that represent the top 30 rankings for a sample pool of 10,271 keywords display Facebook share counters, as well as get very high total of FB shares, likes, and comments.

Granted, correlation is not causation, meaning if you hurry up and add Facebook sharing buttons to your site hoping to rank for a hot keyword like “internet business blog”, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Plus, Yaro already has that ranking in his pocket – #1 out of some 712M results… not bad, not bad at all.

internet business blog google rankings

So What?

So we now have some research backing up what we pretty much knew all along – social media is a powerful influence on how well our business does one way or another.

Big deal, right?

What we, online business owners, really need to know is how can we take advantage of this info and use the theory to empower our sites to rank better on Google – or at the very least, to bring in healthy amounts of referral traffic.

Practical Steps To Successful Facebook Marketing

Even though Twitter definitely has its place as a social search engine ranking factor, I am inclined to think that it’s Facebook that we need to focus on more for better quality traffic and, possibly, for a little help with Google rankings.

So what are the practical suggestions we all can take back to our blogs?

1. Implement Facebook “Like” buttons both at the top and the bottom of each post – preferably with the little thumbnails.

As per Danny Sullivan’s recent conversation with Facebook staff, Facebook says Like buttons get three to five times more clicks if:

2. Add Facebook Comments plugin.

I had it on my site for a while, but noticed that it slowed down my site a bit. In the light of the stats referred to above, I am thinking of giving it another shot, this time tracking the FB traffic a little closer than I was before.

3. Always respond to Facebook comments left on your blog in the same manner you would to a regular comment.

Even more so, since the potential for your comment to be seen by so many eyes is exponentially greater.

4. Be more engaging with your Facebook followers by asking questions (“Would you…?” format works the best), changing things up a bit by posting videos, pictures, etc.

For instance, I’ve always shared links to my new posts on my Traffic Generation Cafe fan page – naturally.

However, only recently it occurred to me to not simply post a link, but to ask a question with it as well.

Take a look at this:

facebook sharing increased search engine rankings

Once I started asking questions, user engagement grew significantly.

5. Use @Tags (works pretty much like Twitter @Mentions) to give credit, acknowledge, thank, etc.

6. Institute a day when your fans can promote themselves on your page in some fashion, for instance: “Share Your Blog Monday”, “Promote Your Business Tuesday”, “Share Your Twitter Account Wednesday” – you get the idea.

7. Give away a free gift to your FB fans exclusively.

8. Chat live with your fans using Clobby Chat.

9. Do a live event on your Facebook page.

This is something I used to do every Sunday morning, hanging out with my readers and fans, answering all sorts of traffic generation questions, getting to know my readership, and networking.

You can use Vpype (that’s what I did) or Ustream for that.

10. Involve your fans by asking them to help you with your future content creation or a product – this is referred to as “crowdsourcing”.

11. Post directly to Facebook.

For all of you, HootSuite and TweetDeck fans out there – you are much better off posting directly to Facebook instead of going through your favorite social media dashboard.

Besides the fact that posting directly to Facebook allows you to use your post image as an eye-candy (doesn’t seem like a big deal, but believe me, it is – images are a great way to make your post stand out among hundreds of others in one’s news feed), you are also more likely to show up in your fans’ TOP NEWS (the default view for a Facebook news feed) vs get lost in the Most Recent News that no one ever looks at.

facebook top news feed image

Marketing Takeaway

How you interpret and use this data is, of course, entirely up to you.

I only hope that you won’t simply ignore it.

Posts that earn tweets and Facebook shares are also likely to earn natural links, plus send traffic on their own. Not making sure you are taking full advantage of these facts is… well, foolish.

Another big takeaway to take to heart should be this: even if you’re sure that a social metric is highly influential, spamming the heck out of it is probably a dumb way to try to manipulate the rankings.

Ana Hoffman

About Ana Hoffman

Traffic, traffic, traffic... Can't do without it, but don't know how to get it?
Ana does, and she freely shares her web traffic advice that doesn't suck on her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. And don't forget to pick up Ana's 7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination free SEO report while you are at it - stop hoping for more search engine traffic and go get it!

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14 Comments

  • hi Ana! thanks for the seomoz link!! that is really usefull resource for me.

  • Social media is also major part of SEO now and I have to start concentrating on that too. Thanks for sharing that report from seomoz.

  • I can’t agree more than this, using social media can bring you to top ranking results on google (though never noticed this :) ). Thanks for sharing this, I will read your other articles too. lol.

  • Stephanie

    Hi everyone,

    Apologies, there were some tech issues, which left the article incomplete, but have now been fixed. Please find the complete article above.

    Kind regards,
    Steph (EJ Editor).

  • Another great article! I think you got it spot on.

    Social media is now essential for SEO and bring in more traffic.

    And the thing I like about it is that when people ‘Like’ my products in my online store, it then attracts more indexing bots which all helps my rankings.

    Mick

  • […] Google Study: Do PPC Ads Impact Your Organic Listings Success — Should you invest in PPC? Will it harm your current SEO campaigns? It can be tough to know what to do in many situations, but this study from Google has some very interesting results. Sneak over to iNeedHits and have a look. Another great study was covered by Entrepreneur’s Journey, so you can head over there and find out more about that as well. It’s called ‘The Research Is In: How Important Are Facebook and Twitter For You Google Rankings?‘ […]

  • I have read on other blogs as well about the impact of social media on website ranking. You post augments this point even more. Thanks for sharing

  • Congratulations entrepreneurs-journey!! :) #1 internet business blog!!!

  • Although I personally am not too active on Facebook, Twitter and the like, my ‘like’ button does seem to refer more visitors. I’m not sure I’m ready to enact the other steps, as mentioned by Danny Sullivan, simply because I am not a big FB user. Who knows…that may change in the near future. I’m sure I’ll refer to this post when that time comes.

  • Hi Ana, I’d say you’re doing fab and it’s great to see you here Chez Yaro:) This makes me want to reinstate the old tweetmeme button I used to put at the top of my blog posts as well as a FB like button of course!

  • Do they have data on the number of likes that each website received? More concrete numbers would make it great. It seems to me though that quite a large number of likes need to happen before there is much of an influence on Google.

    -Jean

  • That SEOmoz report is really interesting Ana. I missed that one.
    Looks like to get ourselves into the number 1 important factor, we’ll first have to inundate our profiles with number 2 and 3.

  • Google will always be the No.1 option for website traffic, at least in the near future. But Like buttons do make a considerable difference, and if Customers and visitors are happy to help spread the word about a product you offer, all the better. When it comes to SEO you need all the help you can get!

  • Thank you for the post. Social media is playing a huge role in SEO and driving traffic to websites. This article is a great resource for beginners to use in their business marketing practices.

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