According to an annual report by SEOMoz titled “2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors”, there’s a significant correlation between Facebook shares and the ranking of that same page on search engines, particularly within Google’s US rankings. SEOMoz goes into detail to decide whether or not Google is using Facebook shares directly as a ranking signal, or whether or not search position and a popular shared page is merely a coincidence.
In their conclusion, SEOMoz has said it that they are unable to prove that a Facebook shared link will directly impact search engine rankings. The study shows that there is a strong correlation between rank and Facebook shares, however that could also come down to the quality of the content.
The bottom line really comes down to the beautiful phrase Internet marketers are used to hearing: quality content is king. Of course, especially with the recent Panda updates, Google is rewarding quality content when calculating rank.
So if we know that quality content will be rewarded, why do we care about the correlation between search engine rank and Facebook shares? For one, it’s great for publishers to have a metric to tell if they have quality content to begin with.
There’s a lot of talk about the quality content, things to look out for, the do’s and don’ts, but there’s no real way to tell if your content is true quality in Google’s eyes. We have ideas in terms of sentence complexity, uniqueness, relevancy, and keyword density, but there isn’t a whole lot more than that.
When looking at the strong correlation between pages that are shared on Facebook and those that rank well in Google, it’s important to consider what Google is considering quality, even if Google doesn’t use that share data as a part of its algorithm.
To keep it simple, if you’re pushing content that doesn’t get shared much, it may not be that good. If it’s not good from a human perspective, Google may not be interested in it either. If we consider Google’s algorithmic approach, they’re aiming to create a highly relevant and positive experience for their user. It will try to mimic what humans like.
This one is a no-brainier, but keep promoting your brand through Facebook! By sharing and generating user engagement through social media you’re only helping your brand, not to mention the other benefits that a social media marketing campaign can have, such as generating tweets or even links back to your site from users. More Facebook shares probably won’t improve your Google rank directly; however it’s important to consider various other positive effects and other signals that Google may pick up on. Aim to make yourself an authority.
So, given everything said, are you planning to add or revise anything from your Facebook or social media strategy?