We have speculated for a while now that Google and Bing were starting to give more weight to Twitter and Facebook links as they move towards providing the most relevant and real-time search results. In fact, at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco last November the Bing team acknowledged that social signals were becoming increasingly influential.
Now this is being confirmed officially by Google and Bing. Leading search engine blog Search Engine Land conducted an interview with Bing and Google recently to discuss how social signals are being measured. This is fantastic news for inbound marketing.
Here is an excerpt:
1) If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-nofollowed links that may naturally result from it?
Bing: We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top when best match relevancy is used.
Google: Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article.
2) Do you try to calculate the authority of someone who tweets that might be assigned to their Twitter page. Do you try to “know,” if you will, who they are?
Bing: Yes. We do calculate the authority of someone who tweets. For known public figures or publishers, we do associate them with who they are. (For example, query for Danny Sullivan)
Google: Yes we do compute and use author quality. We don’t know who anyone is in real life :-)
3) Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who tweets it?
Google: Yes we do use this as a signal, especially in the “Top links” section [of Google Realtime Search]. Author authority is independent of PageRank, but it is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search.
4) Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?
Bing: Yes. We look at links shared that are marked as “Everyone,” and links shared from Facebook fan pages.
Google: We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.
5) Do you try to calculate the authority of someone on Facebook, either say via their personal wall or their fan page.
Bing: We don’t do this on Facebook. On Facebook, we only get what’s public, only updates and things you’ve posted to everyone as viewable. We don’t get things only shared with friends, so we don’t know how authoritative you are on Facebook. There isn’t the whole convenient retweet mechanism we see on Twitter.
We do see valuable content shared by Facebook users, even though we only get what’s public. For example when Gary Coleman died we saw a video from Different Strokes, saying his favorite line “what ya talk’in ’bout Willis” gain popularity. It happened to be what a lot of people are sharing on the day he passed away.
Google: Again, the treatment is the same as for Twitter. And we have no personal wall data from Facebook.
6) Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who shared it on Facebook?
Bing: We can tell if something is of quality on Facbook by leveraging Twitter. If the same link is shared in both places, it’s more likely to be legitimate.
Google: Same as question 5.
7) And just to be really clear, the new Facebook data is not yet being used in ordinary web search, right? (asked only of Bing, because it was only relevant to them)
end of interview.
The point here for business is that you now have yet another reason to start getting active with social media. The web is becoming increasingly “social” and buzz and engagement are becoming valuable metrics. Not only can you drive traffic to your site from Twitter and Facebook, you can increase Google traffic to your site by using Twitter and Facebook.
So what are you waiting for? Do an audit of your social media presence and develop a sound plan to make Twitter and Facebook an integral part of your future marketing.