Social Media. Does it really impact your Google search results?

Posted: 7/02/2013ICreated by: Paul Sideridis

Discussion is rife on the web about social signals and whether they can help push your Google exposure higher.

How Google results work.

Google tries to deliver the most relevant results to you, based on your behaviour, whereabouts and social network.

When you search in Google, results are based on your individual search habits and location. If you’re a Google+ member and logged into Google services (like Gmail), results will also be influenced by your connections.

Locality impacts localised search results especially on mobile devices. However taking this any further is cumbersome.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

The question is, in addition to the above search result factors, does your brand’s social activity and page share help it get better, higher Google rankings?

As individuals we gauge relationships through relevancy, reputation, credibility and trust. Google has used such measurement tools to dictate search relevancy and position for any given website.

By keeping track of activity and measuring (A) quality/quantity of activity and (B) interaction with others, Google can build a picture of your brand’s social authority and relevance to a given field/topic.

Applied broadly this could impact the credibility of your brand and subsequent search results.

However, most social networks are commonly referred to as “closed loop”, meaning Google and other search engines are unable to index and/or access their social information.

So where does that leave you?

Google’s official position is that, while social signals are being used, social doesn’t currently impact search results.

But, given that Google has previously stated they didn’t use social signals at all, things are obviously changing. It’s a pretty good bet that search engines will be able to better gauge social authority as the social media environment matures.

And it’s inevitable that they will apply these findings to search someday soon.

OK, what should you do?

Now before you rush out and supercharge your social media activity, there’s a few things you should keep in mind.
  1. Google has over 200 signals that dictate where your site shows up in results
  2. As search evolves, Google has made it very clear that tricks and tactics focused on short term gains will inevitably result in long term pain
  3. Much like financial investment, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Or, in other words, make sure your marketing isn’t dependant on one source, initiative or tactic (be it online or offline).

While social media signals won’t get you to the top of Google, using it effectively as part of a bigger content strategy can result in greater exposure and links to your useful content. And this will inevitably help your position in search engines like Google.

That doesn’t mean you should stop or ignore your SEO efforts, or jump headlong into social media.

Before embracing any marketing initiative or media, SEO or social, ensure it’s a good fit and relevant to your business and client base.

Convincing stakeholders to commit resources can be challenging. It’s important not to discard any one area. An effective online marketing strategy should take into account all options allowing for controlled test and measure. You can then prioritise and set desired outcomes relevant to each medium/activity.

Effective monitoring and reporting of each medium or activity provides insights that can impact other areas and initiatives, and allow you to make educated decisions on how you adjust your marketing budget and spread moving forward.

Always take a holistic approach to improve desired behaviours and results, ensuring a fruitful long-term investment.

It’s crucial to Research, Test and Refine. It’s also important to ensure your message and expectations per platform/initiative are achievable.

As they say, it won’t happen overnight. But if you understand what’s happening and keep tweaking and adjusting your strategy to get better results, in time it will happen.

What's your website hiding from you that Google doesn't like?

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What's your website hiding from you that Google doesn't like?

Expose and understand those technical glitches holding your site back in Google.