Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not social media as a whole has any influence over search engine rankings. Some digital marketers advocate social media integration because they think that it will help boost their rankings on Google, Bing and other search engines, while others are skeptical that social media engagement metrics have any benefit, outside of building an online community or promoting brand awareness. Up until now, there really hasn’t been much evidence to support either side of the argument. Thanks to Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, we now have a clearer idea of what impact social media, specifically Facebook, has on SEO.
The results are in and according to the findings of this particular study; Google does NOT use Facebook as a ranking, discovery or indexation factor. Now this isn’t to say that social media is a complete waste of time. As I mentioned above, Facebook has a tremendous amount of branding potential and can serve as a great platform to help build your online community. Facebook also has improved their ad targeting models, making it a more viable lead generation and customer acquisition channel. All that being said, here is what Eric and his team discovered. One important thing to keep in mind is that this study pertains to non-personalized search results. If you’re logged in, you may see more results that are influenced by who you follow and/or who follows you.
Freshness is not a factor – With the exception of images, posts are not more likely to be indexed simply because they are new or “fresh.”
Authority is not always factor – Facebook doesn’t always index posts for highly influential profiles. However, posts by authoritative figures containing links have a higher likelihood of being indexed by Google.
Google knows who you’re friends with – Google has access to see who you’re friends with on Facebook, but it doesn’t appear that these social “connections” have any impact on rankings.
Likes won’t help with rankings – At least not directly. Eric and his team tested to see if 800 or more likes caused any increase in rankings and it did not.
Test was inconclusive – Eric said We just did not have enough participation to be sure of the results. However, the data we did have showed that Google did not even crawl the pages based on Facebook shares. This is an indicator that Google does not use this either, but we can’t take that one to the bank.”