Influence of social media on search rankings

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Social media on searchThere had long been anecdotal evidence of the influence of social media on search engine rankings, but now the data has slowly been emerging to back it up.

Of course a simple view of search engine results shows the inclusion of Tweets on the results page and Facebook pages ranking highly against common search terms.

There’s further evidence from the search engine themselves summed up neatly in Danny Sullivan’s article on the influential searchengineland site.

Further data and analysis can be found on The Daily SEO blog (if you’re struggling with those graphs, in short, yes, they do have a strong influence).

It’s entirely in keeping with one of the cornerstones of SEO – inbound links. A ‘Like’ or ‘(re)Tweet’ is an equivalent to an old school link to a page and validates the page in question. What’s more social media, and Twitter in particular, have the added value of real-time data on what’s important to someone now.

Driving traffic – Twitter or Facebook?

Moving onto traffic, among the giants, Facebook and Twitter, which carries the most influence on traffic (of which search is a part) per follower?

While the article above suggests Facebook having more influence on search rankings than Twitter, the data on traffic/follower is less clear so let me go back to anecdotal evidence on traffic as a whole.

For what it’s worth, Twitter generates more traffic than Facebook for me from a roughly equal number of followers, but that’s in line with the visibility I give the blog on Facebook versus Twitter.

More anecdotal evidence is available from tech veteran Robert Scoble:

Are Facebook Likes worth more than Twitter Retweets? Based on my experience? Yes! Yesterday my Facebook datacenter tour post got 100+ likes, 900+ RTs but Facebook brought me 3,772 visits while Twitter only brought 1,500. Interesting, no?

Indeed.

More anecdotal evidence comes from adventurer The Hungry Cyclist who told me that a Twitter follower is worth several times more than a Facebook follower in terms of driving traffic through to his various sites and generating engagement.

In truth, the industry needs to be better at pooling and sharing this data to increase understanding of how to best plan your social media engagement.

LinkedIn – the dark horse

Beyond the giants of social media, Twitter and Facebook – note no mention of MySpace – one dark horse, particularly when it comes to B2B, is LinkedIn. Not only a goldmine for recruitment consultants to headhunt applicants, it has slowly but surely been building up its functionality with the newsstream now becoming a useful and focused alternative to the more consumer Facebook and more chaotic Twitter feeds and worth checking on a regular basis.

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