SEO Tip #85: Does Google Use Data From Social Sites In Ranking?

Matt Cutts: Yes I can confirm it. We do use Twitter and FaceBook links in ranking as we always have in our web search rankings. But in addition we are also trying to figure out a little bit about the reputation of an author or a creator on Twitter or FaceBook.

Let me give you a little bit of background on that; I filmed a video back in May 2010 where I said we didn’t use that as a signal. At the time we did not use that as a signal but now we are taping this in December 2010 and we are using that as a signal.

So the exhaustive place if you really want comprehensive information is to go and look up Danny Sullivan’s article and we can leave that as a link in the description of the video but essentially, to give you a little background and a little bit more color, the web search quality team has a lot of different groups in a lot of different offices.

People, including the original blog search team, people who worked on real time search, have been working on using these sorts of things as a signal. Primarily it has been used a little bit more in the real time sort of search where you might see individual tweets or other links showing up and streaming up on the page. We’re studying how much sense it makes to use it a little more widely in our web search rankings.

Now there are a few things to remember; number one is if we can’t crawl a page, if we can’t see a page, then we can’t really assign PageRank to it and it doesn’t really count. So if we are able to obtain the data then we can use it but if for some reason a page is forbidden for us to crawl or we’re not able to obtain it somehow then we wouldn’t be able to use that within our rankings.

This is something that is used relatively lightly for now. We’ll see how much we use it over time depending on how useful it is and how robust it ends up being. The one thing I would caution people about is don’t necessarily say to yourself, “Ah ha now I’m going to go out and get reciprocal follows and I’m going to get a ton of followers just like people used to get a ton of links.

In the same way that PageRank depends not on just the number of links but the quality of those links. You have to think about what are the followers who mean quality? Who are the people that are not just bots or some software program and things like that?

So it is a signal that we are starting to use a little bit more. You’ll see it most within our real time search as it’s streaming through but we are looking at it more broadly within web search as well.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.