There have been a number of questions and arguments about the role of social signals from Facebook and Twitter in the search engine ranking factors. Matt Cutts, the search spam head at Google, has handled the widely discussed subject in his latest webmaster video, which asks the question whether Facebook and Twitter do have a part in the ranking algorithm and how much do they matter?
This topic has definitely generated enough speculation for Cutts to address it. Let’s have a quick summary on what he has to say:
If the spiders are able to crawl something that occurs in Twitter or Facebook, they will return in on the search results as the pages on these social media websites are considered just like any other web page. However, they currently don’t have any system to rank your website on the basis on how many followers or likes does one have on these sites. The algorithms have not been programmed to consider any signals from these factors.
Cutts seems quite definitive with this that the signals aren’t taken into account. Does it also mean that there could be a small change that could take place later in this year? We all know how Cutts carefully chooses the words and we would definitely see what future has in store.
This is in contrast to what Matt Cutts stated in 2010, when he confirmed that social signals were used by Google. But, Google has launched Google+ since then, and have ended their agreement with Twitter for the tweet data. The spiders are required crawling the whole web in order to locate the pages on these 2 web properties and have had at least an experience when they were blocked from crawling for almost a month and a half. And so doing a lot of special engineering work and try to extract data from those web pages where they might be blocked would make the engineers hesitant in resorting to these pages.
Cutts also noted that the social profiles tend to change frequently and this is the biggest problem as Google only samples the web at certain points of time. So, if they are fetching a specific webpage, they know what it said at that point of time, however the social profiles are bound to change.
Cutts also referred to someone who has changed the relationship status or if a follower or someone from the friend list has been blocked, it would be a little ill-fated to extract the data when it was unchanged and later on found out that there is someone who has been blocked and that he is able to see the profile on the search results only because we had crawled it earlier. The crawling happened at the time when the two profiles were links and we start returning those pages. Cutts stated that they have to worry a lot about identity when the identity is already hard.
So, the big question is should one stop using Facebook and Twitter? Cutts still maintains the fact that there is a lot of value on both the social networks. He doesn’t say not to use these two sites. Facebook and Twitter do provide a lot of value to tons of people. He believes that both these social media platforms do provide a great avenue. It’s a great way to build a brand online and drive visitors and traffic to the site. It is also a great platform to give valuable updates and news to the people about your company. But it should not be assumed that Google is able to access all the signals from Facebook and Twitter. There are a lot of pages that might be blocked or no-followed or something on the same terms.
He also warns us that getting too many Facebook likes will automatically make them liable to secure a good rank on Google. In fact, Cutts says that a page that has got a lot of likes, is definitely of high quality and pretty awesome and that is the only reason why it is ranking. Also, Eric Enge has found that Facebook likes and shares don’t impact search rankings at all.
Looking forward about 10 years, Matt Cutts says that the way Google considers social signals might change as he thinks that over the years there is more likeliness that they will understand the identity and the social connections that exist between people. However, for the time being, they will deal with the web, including Facebook and Twitter, as it is and what they are permitted to crawl and what could be easily extracted from that.
This makes it quite clear that Google is definitely not using Facebook and Twitter signals while considering the rank for a website. However, social media does have plenty of benefits and marketers should not overlook these benefits just because there doesn’t seem to be any direct relation between those two social media platforms and the ranking on Google.