Your friends’ activity on Twitter, Flickr and elsewhere — but for now, not Facebook — will soon be a lot more visible in Google’s search results, including having an impact on how pages rank. Google has announced an expansion of its Google Social Search results that’s beginning to roll out today on Google.com.
Right now, only the activity of one’s “friends” on social-networking websites appears, when relevant, within search-results. Still, I would not doubt a not-too-distant future in which anyone’s activity — as long as the account is set to “public” — will potentially appear, and then SEO marketers will compete even for their individual tweets and status-updates to gain top-rankings for relevant keywords. And then things will become even-more interesting for those like myself who offer SEO-consultant services as well as the clients who hire us.
My blog is listed fourth, and an individual article is fifth. In addition, Google states, “You shared this.” (Though the search-engine does not say how — I presume it is from Twitter.) The Facebook page is not listed at all (at least in the first three pages). Now, I am left to analyze why the sites were ranked this way.
SMM — Art in Modern Marketing
I have published Considerations since 2006, but I did a 301 redirect of the main page and all individual posts over a year ago to the present domain (my name). The Facebook page came a lot later and receives far-less traffic, but the phrase “considerations” is explicitly in the URL (an important SEO ranking-factor). Still, I did not register the page’s username until just a few days ago, so Google has likely not indexed the Facebook site yet. But the results leave the following questions (among many):
- What weight will Google give each to traditional websites and social-media posts?
- When will pages from websites and SMM networks appear higher than the other?
- How will Google determine which posts by which SMM “friends” to show?
- Will the text of Facebook posts or tweets become as important as the meta titles and/or meta descriptions of webpages?
- Will the URL of a website page remain as important since the URLs of social-media posts are not able to be “optimized” for keywords (they are usually a mess of letters and numbers)? (See “Price vs. Value: External Keyword Tools and SEM Data.”)
- The number of external and internal links to a website page helps to determine its “authority” — will the number of Facebook “shares” and “retweets” be considered the same?
- Did Google select the specific blog-post listed second above — out of the hundreds of posts on the website that could have been chosen — because it received a lot of comments, shares, or other social-media attention?
Of course, this Google update raises a near-infinite number of questions for SEO and SEM marketers. Most likely, the competition for Facebook-page usernames — which the company, frustratingly enough, does not allow to be changed or transferred — will only increase. And depending on how SEO analysts determine how the change to Google’s algorithm functions in light of the above questions, one can expect the importance of social-media marketing to increase. (In a different context on the importance of SMM, see “How SMM, Social-Media Guidelines Changed Advertising.”)
When one is looking for SEO-software reviews, it will be crucial to analyze its social-media applications as well as the standard keyword-research, SEM-wikipedia information, and off-site SEO factors. Don’t get left out of the social-media club. In the meantime, I recommend two posts by Duct-Tape Marketing and Hubspot with good tips on social-media marketing.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.