Do Facebook Shares Influence Google Rankings?

New SEOmoz report explains the correlation between Facebook shares and Google search rankings.

There’s a high correlation between Facebook shares and ranking well on search engines, particularly Google U.S. rankings.

That’s according to the latest annual report by SEOmoz called “2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors.”

SEOmoz explains the relationship between Facebook and Google search results, and explores in detail whether Google may be using Facebook shares directly in it’s relevance calculation, or whether the correlation between Facebook shares and search position is coincidental.

In the end, SEOmoz says it cannot prove that Facebook shares cause high search engine rankings (there even appears to be some dispute over whether Google actually uses Facebook shares in its rankings calculations, or whether it uses only fan page information.) The study will only say that there’s a strong correlation between the ranking and Facebook shares.

The study findings reiterate the mantra that publishers and Facebook users hear all the time. Quality of content is king. Google aims to reward quality content in its rankings calculations.

So if a Facebook page gets shared frequently and those pages appear higher in Google rankings, it could be an indication of the type of content Google considers quality without having any proof of cause and effect. It just seems logical that if the content is good, it will get shared on Facebook, which in turn improves a page’s search engine rankings.

As SEOmoz sums things up:

  • Facebook shares, at least as related to Google searches, act as a sort of “super-metric”, encompassing a variety of different factors (similar to SEOmoz’s Page Authority and Domain Authority).
  • Don’t stop sharing and generating brand engagement through Facebook! Driving deeper engagement through social media can only help your brand and likely has other positive benefits (by generating tweets or links, for example).
  • Earning Facebook shares (probably) will not directly boost your Google rankings (though it may have positive effects that indirectly promote links, tweets and other signals Google may use).

What do you think about SEOmoz’s latest findings? How might you change your Facebook strategy in response to this data, if at all?