Clients have often asked if the number of twitter followers you have and facebook fans affects rankings and it does. As seo professionals, we always knew it was important but there was never any confirmation from the search engines till this week.
On December 1st, Danny Sullivan, from search engine land published an interview he took with Bing and Google which confirmed that links shared through Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on rankings. You can find out more here:
Below is the interview by Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan: If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-nofollowed links that may naturally result from it?
We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top when best match relevancy is used.
Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article [NOTE: see the end of this article for more about that].
Danny Sullivan: Do you try to calculate the authority of someone who tweets that might be assigned to their Twitter page. Do you try to “know,” if you will, who they are?
Yes. We do calculate the authority of someone who tweets. For known public figures or publishers, we do associate them with who they are. (For example, query for Danny Sullivan)
Yes we do compute and use author quality. We don’t know who anyone is in real life 🙂
Danny Sullivan: Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who tweets it?
Yes we do use this as a signal, especially in the “Top links” section [of Google Realtime Search]. Author authority is independent of PageRank, but it is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search.
Danny Sullivan: Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?
Yes. We look at links shared that are marked as “Everyone,” and links shared from Facebook fan pages.
We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.
Danny Sullivan: Do you try to calculate the authority of someone on Facebook, either say via their personal wall or their fan page.
We don’t do this on Facebook. On Facebook, we only get what’s public, only updates and things you’ve posted to everyone as viewable. We don’t get things only shared with friends, so we don’t know how authoritative you are on Facebook. There isn’t the whole convenient retweet mechanism we see on Twitter.
We do see valuable content shared by Facebook users, even though we only get what’s public. For example when Gary Coleman died we saw a video from Different Strokes, saying his favorite line “what ya talk’in ’bout Willis” gain popularity. It happened to be what a lot of people are sharing on the day he passed away.
Again, the treatment is the same as for Twitter. And we have no personal wall data from Facebook.
Danny Sullivan: Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who shared it on Facebook?
We can tell if something is of quality on Facebook by leveraging Twitter. If the same link is shared in both places, it’s more likely to be legitimate.
Same as question 5.
So what does this mean for seo? Well it confirms what we already knew and the same best practices of seo can be applied here.
Facebook and Twitter can be seen as an external link building channel. The more varied the links from the different Twitter and Facebook fans, the better. So you can’t go on retweeting a post x number of times from the same account, hoping to build more authoritative links, it just won’t work.
I am pleased Google and Bing confirmed the impact of social media on seo as it proves my point that integration is the key in this digital space.