Google Ranking Factors 2017

16. Social Signals are Not a Ranking Factor but Social Media is Important To Spread Your Content

With Gerry, Stephen, Ned and Dawn.


Dawn Anderson – Director Move It Marketing
For me, it is access to the linkerati, effectively. It’s just access to those multipliers. That can actually impact ranking for you. It’s much easier to build those relationships. I know it’s cheesy to say, “build a relationship”, but we’re kind of in an age where a lot of people’s friendships have now formed through social media.

They find similar affinities etc and it’s a way for brands to utilize that channel to actually boost their popularity. And popularity as such is a ranking factor. So, it may not be direct – you get a link off Facebook, or you get a link off Twitter and it is a ranking factor – but it’s access to the people who actually have the power, that are running the HubSpot’s, that are running the the Huffington Post, that are running the BBC, etc. Well, not running, but running the journalistic side of it.

Gerry White – SEO Consultant Just Eat
The content that goes on there.

Dawn Anderson
Exactly! So it’s just a great way of actually cutting through that 6 degrees of separation.

Gerry White
Absolutely, I’m looking to write an article, or do something about a particular topic, the first place I look to is the social networks, that I’m involved with. And I kind of sort of reach out to people and say look, I need some information about this, I need some of that, and obviously I am going to link back to them in an appropriate way, because that’s how it happens, and that’s absolutely expanding.

Dawn Anderson
It’s the exchange of value.

Gerry White
Yeah completely. On the other side of it, social media is always with us now, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, things like that. It’s also a way of connecting with our user base. Say, we kind of almost don’t describe social media as search engines, but Instagram and other tools, and particularly YouTube, they’re now some of the biggest search engines around.

Dawn Anderson
Facebook are making a challenge against YouTube with video, for instance, a massive one. On Facebook alone, the videos, the views that posts get that have video, is massively more than anything else because they literally are facing, they are challenging us.

Ned Poulter – CEO & Founder Pole Star Digital
Well, they’re heavily weighting video posts, against normal posts as well. And the interesting thing with Facebook is, they are really stuffing it down your throat as well, because the whole Livefeed-thing

Dawn Anderson
Which I am not a fan of. I had a conversation the other day about it…

Ned Poulter – CEO & Founder Pole Star Digital
Me neither.

Dawn Anderson
..you mean autoplay? As such?

Ned Poulter
It’s… no, no, no, it’s when people livestream

Dawn Anderson
Ah, sorry, I thought you meant, like, the autoplay video.

Ned Poulter
No. So, I used this example recently where…

Dawn Anderson
X is live and so on.

Ned Poulter
Yeah exactly, where so and so is live and I used this example, where people would kind of use to take a photo of their lunch and now we get a livestream of them eating it and it’s kind of like, wow, too much!

But they put the button front and center. When you’re going to live update, they say “Do you want to video livestream?”. But it can be utilized really well. Social, to me from a marketing perspective – aside somewhat from SEO – is about audience and data. And it’s one thing that Google obviously tried, with Google+, which failed spectacularly, and is still kind of knocking around…

Dawn Anderson
Well they’re just moving that on to AMP.

Ned Poulter
Yeah, and they’ve wrapped a lot of it into Google My Business, as well.

Stephen Kenwright
The ironic thing about Google+ is, if you think about the amount of press, naturally it would get a lot of press about fake news at the minute, the real challenge is that Google is being challenged with trying to fix the fake news problem. Authorship would have done that. That whole Google+ Authorship thing. That’s a solution for that right there.

Dawn Anderson
There is a really recent patent that looks at the knowledge vault.We have got this whole fake news issue going on, and obviously Google and all the search engines have this challenge of “How do we decide what is true and what is not true?”. And then, looking at the credible sources etc.

Really, really interesting patent that actually uses quizzes from social media, called Quizzer, actually finds out, who the intelligent people are, who get all these quizzes right, and starts to tie them into entities as such. It is really, really interesting, at some point I’ll find some papers to support it, but it literally is about finding validity through social media, which ties back into search somehow.

Ned Poulter
Which was Author Rank and Authorship in its entirety. And, it’s interesting, because that’s something that kind of struck me this morning. When I was kind of writing down some notes about talking about this, was, “blimey I haven’t heard about that, for so long” and it was such a big thing.

Dawn Anderson
That was supposed to give credibility and reliability. It’s the validity of the reliability of the source, isn’t it?

Stephen Kenwright
A real challenge is with the sources themselves – I mean we’re tempted as SEOs to think about the Huffington Post as a source, but actually it’s a blogger on Huffington Post. And Google no longer trusts a lot of these websites. Huffington Post is another example, because so many people have access to it and just publish there.

Dawn Anderson
And people are sending out emails saying “ Hey, you know you payed me like 200 quid, I’ll get you a do-follow link off these massively authoritative websites”.

Gerry White
The other side of it is, that it’s a trust factor to users. I mean if I search for a brand, one of the things you’ll always find is their social profiles come up on the right hand side of the knowledge box. I mean, you can influence this by putting a tiny bit of text on your file, to make sure that the right boxes come up , because sometimes it is the wrong ones. And that’s a very easy quick win for any brand. But the thing that I tend to do is, if I’m thinking “Shall I buy from this one?”, I click into it, I have a look at their Facebook Page, Twitter account or something like that.

Dawn Anderson
It’s brand real estate, it’s real estate. And if you don’t take it, somebody else is going to take it. And especially if you’re not really an established brand yet, somebody is going to sit in that place if you don’t at least do a little bit of something to maintain your assets.

Ned Poulter
We’ve also seen the re-introduction of Tweets in the SERP as well, which went away. We were there, in a totally different layout format, but we’re talking about kind of richer search results, depending on what you’re searching for.

I really like football, so if I search pretty much anything about football, there is always kind of the key sources, sky sports will be up there. And actually sometimes I get my information – suppose this is the case of keeping the user on the SERP as opposed to actually navigating down to a website – because I get my information there and then.

Stephen Kenwright
And you’re going to get on a stage as well, where, when you’re talking about voice search and the integration of your actual life into that. You want Alexa to tell you whose birthday is coming up and the only way Alexa is going to get that information is from Facebook.

Dawn Anderson
Yeah exactly and a lot of it, and a lot of the whole structured data, the idea of triples, they’re coming from, not just search, from websites, they’re coming from social media. We’re pressing all this happy, sad, I’m angry, etc they’re all wrapped in that idea of triples, which ties in emotion. So this whole knowledge vault is being built and I do think that eventually we are going to end up with this whole integration of everything: search, social…

Ned Poulter
The only thing I disagree with is…

Dawn Anderson
And structured data is the tie together.

Ned Poulter
Well, it is, but the only thing I disagree with that is obviously data sharing between parties, like Facebook and Google for example.

Dawn Anderson
But then, what you have is the open source parts, that everybody’s dumping everything into, that people are feeding…

Ned Poulter
It’s not everything though, is it?

Dawn Anderson
Well no, but you’ve got the likes of DBpedia and so on. Everybody is contributing to these things. So there are points on the internet where, even though you’ve got data sharing, people are literally wrapped in in marked up data. You can’t hide from the fact that, Stephen Kenwright is pretty easy to identify on the internet. Where does data sharing end as such? Where it becomes unethical?

Ned Poulter
But then, I also think that, to your point, a very straight forward kind of, obvious to implement a tactic, is making sure you’ve got your OpenGraph cards marked up. Because when we talk about click through, we talk about click throughs from SERPs, but if you’re a big brand, and you tweet any link, a product, a category page, whatever it may be – just literally take the URL, put it into Facebook, and see what shows up. And it’s amazing how many big brands haven’t just marked it up with what they want.

Dawn Anderson
And it’s so easy to implement.

Gerry White
You’re absolutely right, OpenGraph, Twitter Cards and the Pinterest buttons as well. Rich Pins. I mean Rich Pins have had an amazing conversion for loads of other companies, and they’re actually something which has got huge amounts of powerful – particularly travel, particularly luxury, those kinds of brands – and going back to it, yeah that is a search engine at the end of the day. If I search “Handbags”, I don’t do this very often, on Instagram…

Dawn Anderson
Exactly, you know Facebook is a search engine, anything that you can type words into and it outputs a result, is a search engine of sorts. And you know, we’ve seen a lot of commentary around Zuckerberg saying, he is throwing out a challenge to Facebook…

Ned Poulter
To Google.

Dawn Anderson
… yeah sorry, to Google. But we’re looking at it from a search perspective and not actually realizing that actually he’s looking at it from a social tool, to search. It goes both ways.

Gerry White
But again, looking at other search engines, like Tripadvisor for instance, you know the social impact of Facebook inputting into it. It takes your profile in and actually says “You know what? You know this guy, he’s a friend of a friend, and he likes this place.” Trust and things like that.

Dawn Anderson
Exactly, exactly, they are banking on a lot of the data that comes from a common source. The minute you walked in and said “Hey, yeah, I’m happy to see which of my friends are going to that event”, you’ve opted in to sharing data across a third party platform. People may or may not actually realize that they’re doing that.

Ned Poulter
I would argue that 99% of people don’t.

Dawn Anderson
Exactly, but we’re cynical SEOs that are constantly clearing Cookies.

Gerry White
But this is a different generation. The new generation is almost expecting this to be the normal kind of thing and they don’t kind of question the privacy.

Dawn Anderson
Exactly, they would go to the opening of a fridge door, wouldn’t they? You see what I mean? They want to be in things.

Ned Poulter
Is there beer in the fridge?

Dawn Anderson
The point I’m making is, they want to be in things. They want to be involved in everything.

Gerry White
There’s something quite scary about the fact that now, I will have a ping on my phone saying “Ned is nearby”.

Dawn Anderson
Exactly, look at me, I’m terrible I am constantly checking in all over the world,

Gerry White
But as a generational thing I’m sitting there kind of going, “this is a bit creepy and weird”. I mean, not that I don’t like Ned, but I don’t necessarily think that…

Ned Poulter
But I am always nearby.

Gerry White
I don’t want somebody kind of being notified when I am like in a pub around the corner.

Dawn Anderson
And you know the big thing as well is gamification. Gamification across social, search, apps, everything. This is a generation of gamers that are now consumers.

Gerry White
I’m the mayor of the local Tescos.

Dawn Anderson
I’m the mayor of everything.

Ned Poulter
You’re a liar, you have been to places that I am mayor of.

Dawn Anderson
But you’ve been to places that I am mayor of!

Ned Poulter
I certainly have. Yeah, more than you have been to mine.

Dawn Anderson
I’m a very competitive sport.