This post was originally written by Ken Shafer, past SEO Manager for Apartments.com.
Still doubting the importance of social media signals in search results? After Google’s latest announcement you should probably reconsider. Their statement saying “But relevance isn’t just about pages—it’s also about relationships” is a wake-up call to all site owners that it’s time to pull our collective heads out of the sand and get to work cultivating a social network and encouraging interactions with your content.
The nuts and bolts
There are three components to this update. First, Google is going to start incorporating posts to social media channels from your network into its search results. Second, you’ll be able to see who posted it and on which social site. Finally, you get a little more control about linking social media accounts to your Google profile.
What does it mean?
One of the main things I’m taking away from this is the fact that this reinforces how unreliable ranking reports are, or how they shouldn’t be used as a success metric. Google has been personalizing results for years. This update furthers that initiative. Results from your rank tracking tool are going to see a different set of results than you, me or one of your customers. This is because items from our various social networks are, or are not, injected into the links we see on search results pages. This should reinforce the idea that we should be using traffic and not rankings to determine how our sites are performing.
As with most Google announcements, one should generally take them with a grain of salt. Here is that grain. People will only see these social results if they’re logged into their Google account. What I would really like to see are some numbers that let us know what percentage of Google searches are performed by people logged into their account. It would certainly give us a better understanding of the reach releases like this have.
If anyone’s seen those Google usage numbers, please feel free to post a link in the comments or send a link to me on Twitter (@knit_hat).