social media search update 2013

Social Media Is Now The Most Influential Search Ranking Factor

Fresh from a consultation with an online retailer where we defined that search and social would be the key cornerstones of their digital strategy we are digesting the news that recently hit that social media is now the most influential search ranking factor.

Search engine optimisation unfortunately has been polluted with dodgy tactics and dodgy “experts” for years.  The older rules for what would appear on the first page of a search result relied on things like how many times the page had been linked too and how credible those sources were, e.g. a major news title carries more weigh than a hobby blog.  This was open to dodgy tactics however in a big move Google has decided to change the effectiveness of unethical tactics and even in some cases penalise sites.  Google has always built spam fighting updates to how search is displayed to improve the overall quality of results.

The newer updates have left people in the SEO profession scratching their heads a little, if you want more details on the updates take a look at this great summary from Matt Cutts of Google.


I am pleased however that social media will play a much greater importance in search results as it is taking personal recommendation to a new level, I am not convince that this model can’t be manipulated however I think its a step in the right direction.  I am referring to the local business that recognises that social media is an important part of their marketing and digital strategy, this update will help that business surface in search results, rather than competing against other businesses who have built unethical links that have cheated Google.

Channel Specific Basic Social SEO Strategy

1. Google+

Google Plus is Google’s own social media channel.  As you can see from the search influence factors that +1’s (similar to “likes” on Facebook) are the most influential factor. Make sure you have set up a profile for yourself  and your business on Google+ (yes another social media channel but as it is the most important factor I do seriously suggest you do this.)  Another quick win is to verify and link your website to your Google Plus account by using code.  Contact your webmaster if you are unsure on how to do this.

2. Facebook

According to the data this is another huge influence for SEO rankings with likes, shares, and comments in the top 6 factors – posting to a Facebook page for your business will now affect your search rankings in a much bigger way – does this lead to you setting aside a budget for boosting Facebook posts, at the very least you should make sure that your content is shareable, likeable and worth starting a conversation over.

3. Twitter

Tweets are the 8th most influential.  I believe when this is further dissected that will give weight to how many retweets and @mentions each tweet you send will get.  It is more important than ever that you not only have a Twitter account for your business but that you are having two way conversations on the platform.  Consider including key words in tweets that you wish your business to be found for but don’t overload tweets with spammy hashtags as this will lead to very low engagement.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest comes in higher than Twitter, Pinterets is an easy platform to get right and even easier to get wrong.  Many people use Pinterest accounts to “re-pin” other people’s content – which is great for those people! – you need to make sure you are spending time to create original content that links back to your website to start to see the benefit of social SEO.  As with Google Plus you can easily verify and link your website by using some code.  Contact your webmaster if you are unsure on how to do this.

5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has made huge leaps forward in the past 12 months for businesses to have a meaningful presence.  It’s now not only a great way to build your professional network and contacts, but a great way to broadcast blog posts to your professional peers. Since the social media channel also has great SEO authority, linking out to your blog posts through LinkedIn broadcasts will also build good SEO ranking for your blog.

Key Takeaways

  • If you have had SEO work done on your website in the ast make sure that it is not going to be penalised by the newest Google updates
  • Think about employing a Social SEO strategy. across the platforms your business is active on.
  • Consider setting up new channels for your business to take advantage SEO benefits.

If you are reading this as a business owner you need to make sure that any SEO work that has been done in the past is in line with the new rules otherwise you could face the wrath of Google.  If you are unsure if work done on your website is going to go against the new guidelines you need to get in touch with the company that did the work immediately.

By Steven Cole