In the last ten years there has been a vital social change in the form of social networks.
First started as a way to connect people, they have changed to include such things as social gaming and more recently have been seen as trusted and rapid sources of news.
Google now treats links from these sources as a gauge of popularity and as such should not be ignored with regards to search engine optimisation.
The importance Google and to some extent other search engines put in these social signals is due to the wide acceptance of social media in general.
Due to the sheer scale of membership of these social networks means if a proportion of the network tweets or mentions a story, search engines like Google can take the story as not only being serious but because a large proportion of people are all saying the same thing it to some ways is considered more ‘tamper’ proof.
Before you buy thousands of twitter tweets for your site, the other thing to realise is that search engines like Google take social signals as one of a number of factors and as such if the social signals looks manipulated, not only that you may find that inbound links are discounted, but search engines like Google may decide you are trying to bend the rules too far and remove your site from the index.
As with all search engine optimisation advice, it is important to look at the whole picture and implement accordingly.
While it is true that no one outside of Google knows the mechanism for determining rank in its search engine listing, we do know Google likes the top ten pages for a given phrase for a reason, and it is this fact we can use to formulate our strategy.
The reason for looking at the top ten as a whole is that it allows us to remove the ‘freak’ results of any one website.
We could look at any phrase but it makes sense to look at a popular term. It’s also important to note that the internet is a fluid place and analysis on one day and with one search engine can be different on another day on another engine.
As expected most of the top 10 pages for this search term had thousands of mentions. But as with the other aspects of search engine optimisation, pure numbers does not tell the whole story.
In general terms the sites which did better had a better spread of social signals that were not restricted to a single or couple of site.
This fits in nicely with our assumption that Google looks at a wide range of sources, and on this basis if we were able to run the same enquiry over the entire spectrum of social media sites we would probably see the same sort of demographic.
For companies with large budgets, having identities on multiple social sites makes sense but for though on small or no budgets the conclusion must be that social signal most of the time will have a limited impact.