Google uses data from social media sites (video)

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As we saw in a previous article, an interview of Danny Sullivan revealed that Google and Bing use social media buzz as a Ranking Signal. Today Matt Cutts, head of Google`s Webspam team, replied our question concerning the issue with a Video.

He confirmed that Google has changed the way that evaluates Social Media links and they will probably continue doing it on the future. In this article we don’t only post the current video with some comments but also all the previous replies of Matt Cutts on this issue.

December 17, 2010: Does Google use data from social sites in ranking?

Key points:
  • They use Twitter & Facebook links in ranking (as normal links)
  • Also they try to find the reputation of the author
  • Google used not to handle Social Media links in a special way, but this is changed and now they use it more as a signal
  • The teams of Google Blog Search and Real Time Search have been using the social media buzz as a signal
  • Primarily those teams use it more but they are checking if it is useful to use it more on Web Search results
  • Only the social media profiles that can be crawled and that are public are taken into account
  • At the moment this is not a very important signal, but this might change on the future
  • Getting Reciprocal followers or adding lots of followers would not help much

This confirms the matters that we discussed on the previous article. Now lets check out what Google has replied on the same question over time:

March 06, 2009: Has Google changed the relevancy it awards to social media?

Key points:
  • They don`t handle links from Social Media sites in a special way
  • Instead they focus on how useful those links are
  • At the same time they are always testing new algorithms to calculate the weight of certain links and this could affect the links from social media.
  • Still those changes are not done to handle social media differently
  • They did have made some changes that could affect social media links, but not something drastic
  • They are open and might consider weighting more the social media links on the future

April 29, 2009: Is Google doing anything different for Twitter results?

Key points:
  • No they do nothing special for twitter
  • They take only into account the links that a particular tweet has accumulated
  • That could be links due to the RTs, or due to normal links from pages
  • They take into account what is said by the people that link or reply to that message
  • They crawl the tweets as normal pages
  • They do not score Twitter links differently
  • They treat Twitter pages, tweets, RTs etc as normal pages

May 08, 2009: What are the factors that go into determining the PageRank of a Twitter page?

Key points:
  • They treat twitter pages as normal pages
  • They don`t check the number of followers that a profile has, but only the links that your profile or your twitter messages have
  • The number of followers can be gamed easily so it is not a good signal
  • Thus they focus on Backlinks and on the reputation of those links

January 14, 2010: How do you rate links from sites like Twitter and Facebook?

Key points:
  • Links are treated in the same way; it does not matter if they come from Facebook, Twitter, .gov or .edu sites
  • For Facebook they evaluate and asign PageRank to pages that are public. The outgoing links of those pages, if they are followed they can flow PageRank and thus they take them into account as normal links
  • For Twitter since the links are nofollowed, they are probably not taken into account
  • In Web Search they treat Facebook and Twitter links as normal links

March 08, 2010: Does the PageRank of Twitter profiles matter?

Key points:
  • It matters if you want your tweets to rank
  • It does matter if you want your profile to appear in the search results
  • It does not matter for the outgoing links of your profile, because those links are nofollowed
  • A high PageRank on a twitter profile does not mean high authority of the author. This is a result of having incoming links with high PageRank just like happens with other pages.
  • The suggestion is not to mind so much the PageRank value of twitter profiles, but instead try to connect with important users

What changed during these months?

Twitter and Facebook have been growing very fast the last couple of years and a large part of the Pages that are crawled by Search Engines come from those sites. Very useful information can be found on these networks and high quality data can be extracted. For the different types of search such as Blog and Real-time Search it did make cense to use more the social media buzz as a signal. Google is testing several signals every year and they also started using social media buzz as a signal for Web Search. If the results are good they will continue doing this on the future and they are more likely to give additional weight to this signal.

From this discussion, we should keep that nothing should be taken for granted in SEO, things are changing really fast, new SEO techniques will be used on the future and several will be abandoned.

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