By Matthew Kynaston
June 12th 2012
Search Engine Optimisation News
A recent study shows that sharing links on popular social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter have a distinctly positive correlation with rankings in Google, according to the findings of Search Metrics.
The biggest impact on the SERPs comes from activity on Google+; a “+1” having the most positive correlation (0.37) of all social metrics to higher ranking sites, with Facebook (0.35) just behind. Twitter shares (tweets) show as significantly less important but still positive (0.24)
As you can see from the graph, many factors were tested across a range of Google results, with the significance of social factors far outweighing traditional SEO factors like backlinks, and on-page technical work and content.
Recent changes to the Google algorithm has meant that on site Ads, extensive back-linking and over optimised content has been punished, whilst social sharing remains hard to criticise as it is such a “natural indicator” of good content.
The report also points out that there is a disproportional level of “Branded sites” in the top rankings, which may have skewed results, as these branded pages are likely to have accumulated high social shares based on their offline popularity. There is also a suggestion in the report that Google favours popular brands “unfairly” as they have not been punished in the same way that other sites have. They would also receive high rankings because of domain authority and high traffic.
It is therefore difficult to know whether a non-branded site would receive higher rankings because of social shared factors, although a relationship does clearly exist.
Most SEOs seem to agree that Social factors are to become more important. In contrast to paid for links, social shares do generally and naturally generate traffic.
Like many recent reports, all signs point in the direction of affective, original and creative content. If content is good and well liked, it is more likely to be shared.
The results of the report are certainly based on extensive research; based on 10,000 search terms, 30,000 SERPS and 300,000 titles, URLS and descriptions.