In December 2010, Google and Bing confirmed that Facebook and Twitter affected search rankings. And although marketers suspected as much for some time, the confirmation seemed to signal the ushering in of a new, more social internet. Now, SEOmoz has released some interesting data about just what social signals Google and Bing take into consideration and how much influence they have on search engine results – and Twitter, it seems, isn’t as big of a deal as everyone thought.
SEOmoz’s blog article on Tuesday took a look at the top 30 ranking results in Google for 10,217 searches performed in March. It compares the social features that the top ranking results have which the lower ranking ones don’t, and discusses the implications of social on search.
First, they examined the sheer number of shares a particular URL has on Facebook and Twitter, to see how this quantity affected a higher ranking on Google’s search.
As you can see, all of Facebook’s link metrics – shares, likes and comments – are more positively linked to a higher ranking search result than tweets containing the URL of the site in question.
SEOmoz performed some more data analysis, looking at how influential social factors are without links attached. Their theory was that perhaps Facebook Shares’ correlation with higher search results was simply because it meant more links – not because it was social, but just because more backlinks were being created.
But still, even controlling for links, Facebook Shares have the largest presence among high ranking search results. SEOmoz cautions that this doesn’t mean Facebook Shares = higher rankings, just that the two factors are correlated. But still, when comparing how many of the top ranking search results have Facebook Shares, Likes and Comments to the number which have tweets associated with them, you can see that Twitter is still not as big of a deal to internet marketers as Facebook is.
It looks like, at least in these early days of this shift towards a more social web, Twitter isn’t a very important signal to Google. Despite the fact that tweets appear in Google’s own search results, higher search results don’t have as big of a Twitter presence as they do a Facebook presence.
Still, the social web is constantly in flux, so I wouldn’t sign off your Twitter account just yet.