Big news for web marketers out this week: Bing and Google both confirmed that links shared on Facebook and Twitter will affect SEO ranking. This is something that has been suspected for some time in the SEO community, but this week’s confirmation means much more certainty for web marketers and social media optimizers going forward.
In an interview at Search Engine Land, Google and Bing revealed that social media affects search results – but that it isn’t a straightforward “more links on Facebook=higher search results” equation.
First, Search Engine Land notes that both Bing and Google have social media-specific search results pages. Bing’s Facebook Liked Results and Google’s Social Search deliver search results that are influenced by your friends and social graph, based on the links they are sharing. And Bing’s Social Search and Google’s Realtime Search offer real-time results of what’s being shared on social networks at large.
However, these are separate from regular search results, the search engines note. The major reveal in Search Engine Land’s interview with Google and Bing didn’t have to do with the separation of social search from traditional search, but rather the integration.
Google revealed that it uses Author Authority to gage the SEO ranking of sites, using Twitter users’ “author quality” to make the calculation. And Bing has a similar measurement called “Social Authority”.
The two search engines say they use this social or author authority to influence organic search results. Presumably, if you are a highly influential Twitter user who shares a variety of tweets (which are then commented on, re-tweeted, and shared across your large network), you’ll have a good cache of authority and the links you share will enjoy a boost in SEO.
Marketing Times expands on the interview from Search Engine Land by positing a few ways that Google and Bing might be calculating how influential a link is on Twitter. Some of these items might include: diversity of sources (the more Twitter accounts sharing a link, the more social authority); timing (breaking news vs. links with more longevity); surrounding content (using the whole tweet as a replacement for anchor text); and engagement level (the number of clicks, shares, etc.).
Both search engines also treat links shared on Facebook as they do the links shared on Twitter. However, they assert that they have no access to personal information on Facebook walls, so they cannot calculate authority in the same manner.