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Does Social Media Affect Search Results?

Posted by in Social Media Marketing

Search engine marketing times have changed. We’re now at the point where your online business needs to adapt, or go the way of the dinosaur.

What am I talking about specifically? Recently, the ranking results in major search engines such as Google and Bing have become increasingly affected by social media. To simplify things, as needs be when considering a beast as complex as a search engine’s ranking algorithm, online businesses that are active on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter now stand a better chance of having their websites rank highly in the SERPs.

What does this mean for your website? If yours is a small business trying to achieve search engine visibility, it can be a tremendous advantage – provided you can dedicate the time to maintain a credible level of social media activity. On the other hand, if you have a website that relies heavily on domain age, link building or onpage updates to keep you relevant the SERPs, you might now need to change the way you view the SEO world.

An anonymous spokesperson from Google has admitted that search results are going to be impacted by social media channels. The logic is plain enough: social media has evolved to the point where it now actively helps people to find the relevant data they’re looking for – and that is what a good search engine is all about. To look at it another way, Google can’t ignore social media if it intends to remain the top dog search engine.

Currently, some industries are more affected by social media than others. However, even if this is not strongly apparent within your industry now, at the rate that Google changes its algorithms, you’d better be making a game plan.

Consider that there are currently 30 billion pieces of content on Facebook and over 5 billion tweets indexed in Twitter, and about a quarter of them contain external links to other websites. What does this mean to search engines? It shows what humans want and what humans consider important enough to share with each other. It is not a huge leap for a search engine to deduce that these websites are worthy of ranking.

The reasoning is comparable to old school external linking strategies. If a High PR website links back to your website, it grows in authority. In the social media world, if a large number of users Like and/or share your social media content, your online authority rises.

A couple of years ago, the search engine Bing started to incorporate Facebook content into its search results. It quickly became apparent that a Facebook page that is Liked by a large number of people was favoured in the Bing SERPs. And more recently, with the release of Google +1, social data can be seen personalising the search results. Ford, the only guinea pig company accepted by Google to test out Google +1 for Business, has been experiencing increased ranking visibility. Hmm, coincidence?

So what does this all mean? Simple! Search engines help people find the content they are looking for. And social media has shown that it can help people find what they want faster. If you can’t see the connection by now, and aren’t thinking about what you need to do with social media to survive in the search results, then your website is probably doomed to be a dinosaur.

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