Social SEO Update: Does Google Use Social Media to Build Website Rank?

In the market place there appears to be a bit of confusion about ways Social Media affects or even benefits their website’s SEO. Does Google Use Social Media to Build Website Rank? Here is an update about Social SEO.

Recently I saw the comment from a blogger who suggests ‘the more people are talking about you and engaging with your brand on social media, the higher Google ranks you for your search terms’. As there are many aspects to this and it constantly changes, I began searching for a better way to explain how Social SEO works in 2013.

So the question is Does Google Use Social Media to Build Website Rank i.e. Social SEO?

In answering this, it is important to differentiate between ranking the website, ranking the content and ranking the type of interaction.

Key research into 2013 ranking factors are at:

http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2013/06/27/ranking-factors-2013-google-usa/ with an infographic summarising the results at www.searchmetrics.com/us2013

http://moz.com/blog/ranking-factors-2013

Searchmetrics reports on their results: ‘We have evaluated the 30 first search results of 10,000 keywords, thereby analysing 300,000 websites. As a consequence, we have not only analysed the top keywords, but also culled navigational searches as well; filtering largely brand search in order to deliver a better result.  The result is 150 GB of data for all titles, descriptions, links, content, etc. – together with several billion backlinks, Facebook likes and shares, and millions of tweets and PlusOnes. In short: we have once again searched through a large, fresh database in order to show you what the top URLs in the Google SERPs have in common, and what makes them different from the more poorly ranked pages.’

The SEOMoz approach was similar with similar results.

Myth or Truth? #1: Google Ranks Specific Posts? 

This was true before 2009 but not in 2013. In 2008 and 2009 as Twitter and Facebook began to ramp up inn B2C markets and LinkedIn began to gain favour in B2B markets, some Social Media interactions ranked. Some activity influenced rankings of content.

Since around 2009, this has not been the case. Google does not rank the Social Media content any longer. There is no link juice of s to websites based on Social Media interaction levels, as they bear ‘rel=do not follow’ on the content / links.

Some Social Media consultants report temporary ranking of Facebook content. Temporary ranking  is a matter of hours not days or weeks. Therefore we would not consider it a viable content ranking factor.

Myth or Truth? #2: Engagement affects a Website’s Google ranking?

Yes. No. To a degree it appears SEO’s agree that there is some correlation between interactions and rank. It does seem to vary from platform to platform. These are called ‘Social Signals’. These signals include things like Facebook comments, Pinterest pins, tweets, and – perhaps most importantly – Google +1 posts.

How does Google rank social interaction in Q3 2013?

The Moz Blog (SEOMoz) recently surveyed 120 professional SEO’s and report on the key factors in their article entitled 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors. One of the aspects they evaluated are ‘Social signals, especially Google +1s and Facebook shares are highly correlated.’

SEOMoz suggests ‘As in 2011, social signals were some of our highest correlated factors, with Google+ edging out Facebook and Twitter’. Google + ranked highest followed by Facebook shares, then tweets. SEOs, on the other hand, do not think that social signals are very important in the overall algorithm. This is one of those places where the correlation may be explainable by other factors such as links, and there may not be direct causation…SEOs do not think social factors are important in the 2013 algorithm (only 7%), in contrast to the high correlations.

Myth or Truth? #3: Google Ranks Social Media Profiles?

Yes and No. There seems to be little research about this specifically. Again it appears that Google is favouring Google + . This is a contrary topic. Google’s Matt Cutts denies that they rank Google + higher than other online sources.

The industry suggests that it is a healthy practice to use good keywording in profiles is of benefit to Google ranking. Key wording profiles is recommended as one of the many says to ranking  within a Social Media Platform itself.

Conclusion and Comments on Social SEO

1. Prioritise your use of Social Media based on Google’s favourite Social Media. Post on Google +.

2. Prioritise based on your market’s use of Social Media

3. Use Guidelines to use SEO Best Practice https://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

and http://moz.com/blog/ranking-factors-2013

4. Use keywords in profile About Us sections

5. Keep on being Social to influence brand awareness

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