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It’s a common question we are asked time and again by our clients.

Our opinion has always been that SEO and social media have correlation but one does not directly affect the other. We also believe that an experienced SEO has a completely different skill set than a Social Strategist meaning you shouldn’t assign both tasks to one person.

Recently Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) answered the question,

“Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm? How much do they matter?”

Watch his video to find out how he explains the impact Social Media signals make on your organic rankings and how your social profiles affect ranking algorithms.

Verdict #1:
Likes and Followers aren’t part of the algorithm equation

Cutts starts out by saying that Twitter and Facebook are treated the same as any other page on the web. If Google’s robots can access and crawl the page then the page will be included in Search Results.

So if you type in your brand name followed by Facebook and you see your profile come up in Search results, then Google can crawl your social page. Congratulations!

However, Cutts says that Google does not do any special specific work to determine how many likes or followers you may have. To the best of his knowledge there are no signals like this currently in their web search ranking algorithms.  This means Google isn’t looking to see if you have 10 followers or 2,500 followers on Facebook and does not adjust how your website ranks in organic search results because of this.

Let’s recap: According to Cutts the Google algorithm places no weight on how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers a specific page can capture.

Verdict #2:
Google can’t always access Facebook or Twitter signals

He also says that just because there is a Facebook or Twitter signal pointing to your site that there is no guarantee that Google is able to access or follow the link.

Cutts says that in the past Google has been blocked from a social property for over a month at a time. As a result of this unknown Google does not do any special engineering to be able to be able to crawl big social properties such as Facebook. Cutts eludes to the fact that this is wasted time as Facebook can easily change something in their backend and Google’s special engineering would be useless.

Cutts also speaks to the point that many pages on social sites contain personal and time sensitive content that is marked for limited viewing only. For this reason Google is wary about reading social properties. Social profiles are always changing and because Google is sampling an imperfect web they are careful about protecting identity.

Verdict #3:
Ranks Do Not Equal Likes, Likes Do Not Equal Ranks

Cutts finally adds , “An awesome piece of content doesn’t rank well because it has a lot of Facebook likes, it ranks well because it’s awesome, and in turn it gets shared on Facebook a lot because it’s awesome.” This is not causation.

Key Takeaways About Social and SEO

  • Your social page must be open to public viewing to be accessed and crawled by Google. If the public can access your social networks and view the content on them then Google and other search engines can read and rank them too.
  • Based on Cutt’s information thinking that social media will improve your organic rankings is a flawed.
  • There is no need to give up on Social Media as it can have some big impact on your website traffic, brand  awareness and several other marketing benefits such as being a fast and cost effective way to let your customers know about news.

In the words of Cutts, “Build up your personal brand with Facebook and Twitter but don’t assume because there is a signal on Facebook or Twitter that Google can access it.”

Have questions about your organic rankings? Talk with one of our consultants today by calling 888-262-6687 or completing or quick contact form.

Carissa Krause

Carissa Krause is currently a marketing and project specialist at 1st on the List. Over the years she has worked with clients on a wide range of projects that include areas like local SEO, backlink profile review, content development, social media, and more. Whatever the project may be Carissa focuses on achieving greater efficiencies and putting plans into action.