In an in-depth interview with Google and Bing, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan broke down how Facebook and Twitter impact page ranking algorithms. It’s social signals such as PageRank, Anchor text, HTML tags, the presence of the search term in body copy and hundreds more that Google uses to decide how to rank websites when presented with searches. Before this week, it wasn’t entirely clear whether social data from social networking sites were included.
Social Authority and Author Authority
Google and Bing both confirmed they do look at the social authority and author quality when calculating page rank. Specifically, Bing looks at how many people you follow and how many follow you back — in Bing’s words, this can add “a little weight” to a regular search result listing. Google uses the quality of the author to assist in organic and news rankings. Google and Bing both calculate whether a link should carry more weight based upon the user who Tweets and their social authority/author authority.
What does that mean?
Your position on Twitter has now been confirmed to affect your SEO. It’s authority that will impact how well your website ranks in searches. For Google, this is called Author Authority. For Bing, it’s Social Authority. Google and Bing make no distinction between company and personal accounts, either. Employees with a high Author/Social Authority who Tweet links and engage with other users will positively affect your SEO. Creating fake accounts to re-Tweet your information won’t help your page ranking. It’s the interaction that is key. How often a link is re-tweeted or Tweeted is now taken into consideration by Bing. Google confirms limited use of this function, as well. Author Authority is independent of PageRank, but plays a part in the Google real-time search under Top Links.
Quite simply, the quality and frequency of your Tweets as well as your interaction with other users will affect your page ranking.
The Social Authority/Author Authority can be likened to Klout scores – the measure of a person’s online influence. Higher Klout scores have higher credibility and authority – therefore links and content from them are worth more. Engagement and interaction while posting quality content on Twitter is even more vital based on this unveiled information.
What about Facebook?
Currently, Bing does not try to calculate Social Authority with Facebook. Sullivan states Google does, “in limited cases.”
Links shared within Facebook are calculated in page rankings, provided they are marked for Everyone. Private or Just Friends data is not calculated. Google does not collect link data from personal walls.
Fan pages are included in the data gathering. While using personal accounts for businesses is already against Facebook Terms of Service, this confirmation from Google should serve to nudge anyone who currently utilizes that method to sign up for a Facebook fan page instead. If not for the rules, then for the SEO!
This confirmation from Google and Bing on the integration of social interaction in search engine page ranking only serves to legitimize the use of social media in businesses. Creating a Twitter account, actively engaging, following, re-tweeting, and becoming part of the conversation will aid your business. While a change won’t be seen overnight in your Google ranking if you’ve just signed up for an account, consistent posting is key and will aid your future placement.