Why Isn't Google Using Social Signals for SEO? – Here's Why with Mark & Eric

Why Isn't Google Using Social Signals for SEO? – Here's Why with Mark & Eric

(Resource article links are at the end of this transcript)

ERIC: Welcome to another thrilling episode of “Here’s Why with Mark and Eric.” I’m Eric Enge, CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, and with me is…

MARK: Mark Traphagen, Senior Director of Online Marketing for Stone Temple Consulting.

ERIC: So Mark, why is that Google is not making more use of social signals?

MARK: Well, Eric, a lot of people assume that they do, that Google draws a lot of signal–and by signal, we should first define that we mean what factors in to Google search?

So a lot of people assume they’re all this signal out there–there’s Facebook Likes and Google +1’s, there are retweets on Twitter, and people sharing things all over–that’ got to be a rich source of signal. Most people probably assume that Google is using that. Certainly, Google has talked about wanting to make use of that, and that that is a rich signal.

So why don’t we think they’re making more use of it? Simply because Google will serve no search ranking signal before its time. They’re very, very careful. They’re so guarded about that algorithm that determines what ranks. It has to be accurate. It has to be dependable information. The livelihood of their company depends on it.

So they take they’re time in testing and learning, “How do we evaluate a signal?” Evaluating a social signal is not as easy as people assume. For example, I see Stone Temple Consulting come up on Facebook, and I “Like” it. Why did I like it? Did I like it because I really do like Stone Temple Consulting? Did I like it because Eric’s picture is there, and he’s so handsome I’ve just got to like it? Is it because they have a coupon, a game, a funny cat picture? It’s not as easy as we think to discern [the intent of] like signals.

Now Eric, you did some testing recently, and some very careful studies, and I think you have another reason why they’re not as trusting yet of those signals as they might be.

ERIC: Yes, you’re right, we’ve done three studies. Two of which are published, and one [on Twitter] that is coming out soon. But of the two that are published, one actually directly measured whether Google+ was affecting search rankings. We shared a bunch of links from Google+ profiles to pages that had no other links and no other visibility to Google on the web. Literally no Google Analytics code, no Google+ API code, nothing. The long and the short of it was that the test showed no real reason to believe that Google was using a shared link on a Google+ post as a ranking factor, which was pretty interesting.

And then on the Facebook study we did, we did it in a bit different way. What we did was we took 85 prominent profiles, and we checked 40 different posts spread out over a year for those profiles, to see whether or not they were getting indexed (the specific updates, I mean). They were not getting indexed as much as we thought. They were about 59% indexed.

But the reason I found this so significant was, if this was such a powerful and important signal to Google, and you have these 85 extremely prominent people, they would be indexing all of that content if they thought that was a good signal.

And then we did another similar study recently with Twitter recently, which isn’t published quite yet, but it actually shows very similar results, that the indexing is really kind of poor of those tweets.

MARK: A little spoiler alert there!

Stone Temple Consulting Study of how Facebook impacts SEO:
http://www.stonetemple.com/does-facebook-activity-impact-seo/

Stone Temple Consulting Study of how Google+ impacts SEO:
http://www.stonetemple.com/measuring-google-plus-impact-on-search-rankings/

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