Traffic on Facebook and Twitter influence Bing and Google search results. SEO expert Danny Sullivan interviewed search professionals at Bing over the phone, and asked questions to Google via email. Their responses indicate that both companieshave taken steps to incorporate “social ranking” into their algorithms.
To Follow or Not to Follow
Outbound links from Twitter use the “no follow” attribute to avoid voting for the sites that its links point to. The Twitter “firehose” is however different. Both Google and Bing make use of it. Google claims to use the links that people tweet and retweet sparingly. Bing takes this a step further, using a Twitter member’s “authority” in addition to the number of tweets and retweets.
Authority and Weight
The social authority of Twitter users includes how many people they follow, how many people follow them and who they are. Google claims to also use social authority as a signal in both its news and organic search rankings. For Bing, the social authority metric contributes sparingly to search results.
Facebook links that are marked for “Everyone” are a source that both Bing and Google track. Links shared from Facebook pages do have an impact on search results, but the exact degree of weight they carry is unknown. Google treats links from Facebook fan pages with the same weight as they treat tweets.
As for the social authority of Facebook users, Google and Bing have a difference of opinion. Google considers social authority, even though most profiles do not share all their information with “Everyone.” Bing, on the other hand, does not. Only data that is posted as viewable by “Everyone” is used by Bing.
Does the personal identity of the Facebook user, like a television celebrity, affect a link’s authority? Google treats this the same as Twitter, meaning they use this data sparingly, if at all. Bing refers back to Twitter to see if the same link is being retweeted there. If so, the link has more weight.
As of early 2011, neither Bing nor Google use the Facebook Like or Shared By buttons for ranking purposes. For now, they say, it is only a bit of extra information for web surfers to gauge the popularity of certain content. Neither have said this will change in the future, but it is possible. If history is any indicator, it is probable.
In the past, tweets were merely social and had little to zero impact on search engine rank. That is not the case today, so getting your content tweeted and retweeted is a SEO benefit. The same goes for Facebook Likes. The Like button may not factor directly into page rank just yet, but generating social buzz about your content certainly helps. When content is tweeted by authoritative Twitter users, and shared from Facebook Likes on to high ranking sites, this results in more page views. Implementing the many benefits of social media and search engine optimization together go a long way towards increasing a site’s visibility on the web.