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Digital Marketing News – Social is biggest factor for search engine results?

Target Internet | June 8, 2012

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While many remain skeptical about the validity of Google+, it’s starting to look as if they are on the money with their promise of a more social search experience. A recent research paper published by Searchmetrics has shown that social sharing signals correlate much more highly with search rankings than ever before. In fact, social signals are now appearing to affect rankings more than traditional keyword link placements.

Editor: We’ll investigate this more as I’m not 100% convinced of the data, but social is certainly having an impact on search results and I like to create a bit of discussion! Bear in mind the fundamentals of link building are still essential. I’d also say that content that generates social discussion also generates links, so keep up your focus on engaging content.

The graph below shows the various elements assessed in the report and their correlation to search rankings.

While the report is interesting, the results were generated through data collected over a two month period, however this period covered the Panda update and so demonstrates how SERPs(Search Engine Results Pages) could now look following the changes.

What it does demonstrate, although not in a concrete way, is that social signals are becoming much more important for ranking higher in results pages. Facebook shares in particular are having a high impact on relevance and comments are coming up fast as another indicator of quality.

You can see from the graph that Google+ is not listed as a factor, but this is not because +1s have no affect, in fact they ranked as the highest influencer on search results. Searchmetrics have chosen to leave this result out as the relatively small number of members and their subsequent activity means the data isn’t as meaningful as other indicators. It does however, give a clear indication of the impact of this trend if it were to continue. And that is that +1s could become the most powerful signal affecting search results than ANY other factor.

In it’s report, Searchmectrics stated “When Google+ has values that are stronger and more independent from SERPs, these values will also be included in the overview. That Google is trying to make Google+ an important player is indisputable and therefore SEOs should be sure to keep an eye on further developments.”

What is encouraging is that according to the data, backlinks remain the second highest factor affecting rankings which is one of the strongest indicators of quality content. However, the report has categorised backlinks to indicate what quality looks like and how to maximise on the benefit of these.

The report contains a lot more insights into the power behind search rankings and I would recommend having a look through it for some nice stats which can support your social media activity. The report is free but you’ll need to ‘pay’ with a tweet to access it.

For most of us this won’t be a surprise, but hard data is always hard to come by when it comes to measuring ROI for social engagement.

It’s a clear message that the power of customer engagement is paramount to demonstrating quality and relevance of content.

Written by Felice Ayling


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