Social Media to Take Root in Search Algorithms

by on May 19, 2011 · 5 comments

MIT Technology Review Cover May 2011This month the MIT Technology Review Magazine released what it describes as the Top Ten Emerging Technologies that will impact everyone’s daily life. The magazine profiles all walks of technology and science.

What was number one, you ask?

Social Indexing!

What is social indexing? It is the concept of compressing data from networks like Twitter and Facebook then turning out that data into meaningful tools to help organize websites by popularity and relevance. The impact, eventually and maybe even more so than we commonly suspect Google’s algorithm will rank websites based on the number of “Tweets” a website has, or how many “Likes” a domain has incurred. While that statement is speculative, the article cites that:

( “Google itself acknowledges: it recently rolled out a near- clone of the Like button, which it calls “+1.” It lets people signify for their friends which search results or Web pages they’ve found useful. Google is also using Twitter activity to augment its index. If you have connected your Twitter and Google accounts, Web links that your friends have shared on Twitter may come up higher in Google search results.”

The writing is on the wall, but it’s not clear what is written. Search algorithm engineers will be hard pressed to ignore social media data now that so many users are involved and connect into sites like Facebook. Businesses or websites competing tightly for high value phrases will certainly want to begin keeping an eye on articles with the buzz word “social indexing.”

For instance, if your local business competes for a high value phrase in a densely populated metro area like Manhattan, Facebook and Twitter may emerge as SEO type factor. For example, “Manhattan Spa” this page on Google already requires a complex SEO effort to rank well which will includes link building, relevant content, and map listing optimization.

Will the next aspect of SEO be the number of “Likes” or “Tweets” a website has? If someone is logged into Google it certainly seems like a possibility already.


SEO is turning a new leaf, and considering, it might be a good idea to place in queue this year building at least a simply presence on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. The incentives for a local business to get social on the web continue to grow, unfortunately so does the complexity of driving traffic from search.

About the Author

Jeff Howard has been working in the field of search marketing for 5 years. He is an Expand2Web Expert Consultant, and Expand2Web Training Member. Jeff’s focus is on helping organizations plan, measure and execute search marketing campaigns.

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Eileen lonergan May 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm

This is so interesting jeff, thank you. Does this include “likes” that we may get on our websites from embeded facebook code or plugins, or is this likes from within facebook itself? If yes, we should be adding like buttons to our websites (and blogs) do you have a favorite? Or how about the +1, can we add that to our sites?


Don Campbell May 20, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Yes this includes “Likes” on your web pages if you have the Facebook Like buttons on them. It also includes “like” that people do using the Bing Toolbar. So you are absolutely right, we should all be adding the FB Like button to our blog posts and pages!


Jon May 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I have been testing out this theory on a few of my websites by trying to get some genuine Facebook likes, tweets, retweets, and some social news diggs as well. From my testing it appears that a solid backlink on a high quality site is still 100 times more effective than 100 likes, but perhaps that will change over time as social proof becomes a bigger factor in Google’s algorithm. I think it will be a bigger factor in Bing with facebook already being integrated with this search engine. Great post Jeff. Look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.


Don Campbell May 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I agree with you Jon. Backlinks are still king.

To me, the value of social is in helping get the word out about your content, and hopefully resulting in a few more backlinks because more people are aware of your content.

But these social signals are being integrated into the algorithms and so we need to stay on top of them and see how they develop over time.


Jon May 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Yeah good point, Don. That’s true that social marketing can result in backlinks as more people are aware of your site or services. Will have to keep an eye on any changes in the algorithm that result from social as well.


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