Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Digg have completely changed the internet landscape and the impact of these sites is already being felt on search engine results. Almost every expert in the field agrees that social media is not only here to stay, its influence on search engine rankings will increase rapidly in the near future.
Why Search Engines Give Importance to Social Media
The key reason why businesses have to start taking social media seriously is the immense power that it holds by getting potential customers directly involved in online conversations about a brand. When someone likes your website on Facebook or when someone tweets about it, it is like a vote to your brand by the user. Search engines like Google and Bing are not oblivious to this fact and they now fully understand that this is one of the most promising ways to increase the relevance of search results.
Is Their any Evidence of the Impact of Social Media on SERPs?
Several studies have been conducted in the recent past about the impact of social media on search engine rankings and the results have always shown that search engine algorithms are giving more and more importance to the social media presence of a website. You may have noticed how for many keywords some of the top results are from video sharing sites like YouTube and Metacafe. The interesting thing however is that the way these videos are ranked on the search results does not seem to be dependent on how many inbound links the video page has or what its PageRank is. Their ranking is directly correlated to the number of comments the video has and the number of views it has received.
This shows that search engines are already factoring in important social signals about that page while ranking it for a keyword. Similarly, there are many other social signals that are likely to be already playing a role in determining a website’s search engine ranking, such as:
• The number of “likes” received by a page on Facebook
• Retweets about it
• The number of mentions it has received on Twitter
• The votes received on social bookmarking sites like Digg
• The kind of reviews received by a business on review sites
Besides these concrete measures of popularity on social channels, some subtle signals are also being used by search engines. For example, if you have a huge number of followers on Twitter, you are seen as having a considerable ‘authority’. This authority is then passed on to the links that you share or the mentions that you make about a website.
What Does the Future Hold?
Over the next few months, you can expect social media to play an increasingly important role in search engine rankings. Search engines are likely to get better and better at reading social signals to assess what people really think about a website, and they are going to use this vital information to improve their search results.