The Influence of Social Media on Search Rankings and Business Success

Guest blog by Gavin Ward

I met CubeSocial’s founders, Linda and Mark, at the Lex 2011 Tweetup, having engaged with them previously on Twitter and Linkedin.

While I had heard much of the Connectegrity brand and had even managed to pronounce it properly without assistance, I wasn’t entirely clear on its business model. It wasn’t until that meeting that I learned that Connectegrity was actually a start-up and that there was to be a launch of a new social media product specially designed for professionals to be able to focus on information and conversation on social media that is relevant to them, without the irrelevant noise.

Given that I use various social media tools for my own blawging and, indeed, my work as a Search and Social Media Manager, I was immediately interested. I thought that Connectegrity’s business model is bound to succeed – because of the growing influence of social media on Google’s and Bing’s search rankings, which, to some degree, influences the number of enquiries to a professional organisation through the web.

An Evolution in Search

Google and Bing have always had a challenging time trying to weed out irrelevant websites from search results. Previously, search engines worked by giving enormous value to websites with many links pointing back to them regardless of their content. One comical example of this was when George W Bush was subjected to a “link bombing” campaign, when many people directed the words “failure” or “miserable failure” back to his official webpage, despite the page having no relation to such a statement. The former president then ranked very highly for the word “failure”. The search engines have managed to get around concepts like this, e.g. by sharpening up link relevancy.

Now, following many further changes to their algorithms, the major search engines have started to give growing importance to links shared on social networks.

The Effect of Social Signals on Search Rankings

It is, therefore, useful to question, first, precisely which social signals are relevant for search rankings and, second, how much weight those signals carry.

Those two questions are the focus of leading SEO company, SEOMoz, in their recent blog post Facebook + Twitter’s Influence on Google’s Search Rankings.

SEOMoz concluded that, while almost one year ago, the biggest influencers were exact match .com domain names and number of linking root domains to the page in question, the leading influencer now appears to be shares of a URL on Facebook in addition to traditional backlinks, with shares of URLs through Twitter also being recognised, albeit with slightly less significance at present.

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Conclusions

In light of these findings, it is clear that start-ups like Connectegrity, with state-of-the-art social media technology, will be able to add a great deal of value to professional organisations. At the same time, it will be interesting to see just how much value Google can foster from its continued foray into social search.

Gavin Ward is a blawger via http://wardblawg.com and is a Search and Social Media Manager with Moore Legal Technology Limited. Follow Gavin on Twitter via @GavWard.

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