Experts View 2011: Do you think Social media’s influence on SEO will continue to increase or fade away?

by Peter Young on January 6, 2011 · 4 comments

The feedback on the first couple of sessions of the Q&A has been very good, for our experts thoughts on the future for both Google and the more widespread industry as a whole. Social has very much been a massive talking point both during our initial questioning and for the best part of 2010 – whether it be the suggested integration of social signals into the algorithm or the integration of social networks themselves into the search engine results (ie Facebook/Bing – Google/Twitter)

Our next question was thus:

Do you think Social media’s influence on SEO will continue to increase or fade away?

David Harry

Hey man, didn’t I just answer this one? lol. Unfortunately in SEO circles it will continue to grow because people dream of being SMMs and sitting around on Twitter and FB all day lol. Does that make it right? Not really. I don’t think SEOs have really grasped how social really affects search, at least in terms of it’s true value to SEOs. Google has stated a distinct interest in mixing the social web and PageRank, not to mention a long standing interest in personalization. This seems to be where things will be headed. It’s not going away, I am just uncertain if SEOs will grasp how this can be truly leveraged.

Ben Bisco

I can’t see it going away. It seems like such a logical step

Paul Reilly:

While I think I know what you’re getting at here.. I think it’s important to remember that social platforms are simply new communication mechanisms. Like e-mail, telephone, even the printing press. All as equally game changing in their time, but fundamentally an evolution in communication. Social communication tools are simply the next step, engineered for viral distribution and massively enhance the potential velocity and reach of information.

From a link based “Google” SEO perspective, any information that travels faster and reaches more people and is sufficiently citation worthy, will also gather more links and rank in traditional search engines for this reason I see no need for a Search Engine to fold social into it’s core ranking algorithm.

It just reinforces the need to great content, great strategy and makes the whole game harder to spam – which is good for everyone.

Bas van den Beld

It will increase in 2011 and then the integration starts. But not with Social “Media” but with Social in general. People are already slowly recognizing the fact that they are also using Social Elements offline and that they need to integrate social, search and offline. That realisation will continue, but unfortunately only in small steps..

Nichola Stott

Increase significantly. Pre Google, Pages’ link analysis algorithm was seen as genius, as this component looked to the volume and quality of reference (in the form of link) from sites to other sites. In the same way it is also valid for sites to reference and be referenced by social mechanisms and the existence of related social entities. How can an SEO not pay attention to social media? It would be like saying “we don’t do that link-building thing” shortly followed by “we can get you number one on AltaVista”.

Judith Lewis

Increase. I think you are able to do some extremely complex calculations based on social signals which can be used to help filter spam. Yes, I can also think up ways to automate things so you could beat the algorithm but the more I look over it, the more I see that that + search spam filters = awesomely clean results WITHOUT penalising affiliates for simply being an affiliate. That kind of stuff annoys the heck out of me because what is Go Compare but a rich and complex affiliate…?

Andy Beard

What influence? I still have tests on Buzz that show that a page otherwise not in the index posted on Buzz doesn’t get indexed, even with quite powerful links to the page on Buzz itself to ensure juice.

I haven’t seen any long-term benefit in increased search traffic directly from Twitter, though it might influence what ranks at a particular time that doesn’t mean there is some long-term authority generated.

Andy Redfern

The blurred lines between SEO and Social Media will be emphasised even more this year, particularly with new social elements additions being added to search engines. The big development for me is that Bing will look to make its Facebook investment work in 2011. Facebook listings will start to appear in more “interesting” places, while impressions and “like” data will be put to good use in its keyword ranking mechanism. Google already has a bias on most tweet stories but expect this to spread into prominent positions and on bigger keywords

Shaun Anderson

I think it will continue to increase in 2011. The mania around it will increase, that’s for sure. i think the way social media is abused at the moment might make it difficult to adopt as a KEY ranking factor in any search engine. i think Google still has the best search engine algorithms that result in stable rewards for a search marketer (when you are trying to get a visitor to buy something like a product). Google adding realtime results to SERPS is one thing, but using social media as a key part of ranking algorithms somehow different to what they do with links today? We’ll see….

Peter Young

One would suggest its perceived influence can only increase during the course of 2011. Sources such as Facebook and Twitter are mature products in their own right and I think the level of analysis technology and understanding is now such that the search engines can use their data with a degree of ‘certainty’. I have said before I doubt we will ever see Google completely use social factors in their algorithm as some people have said – however there is no doubting that it is being utilised and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Will Critchlow

Increase. I actually think the distinction between “social media” and “the rest of the internet” is more likely to fade away than social media have less of an impact than it currently does.

Other parts in the Experts View series:
Q1 : Do you think a viable competitor to Google will emerge in 2011?
Q2 : Where do you think the growth area in search will emerge in 2011?

Google+ Comments

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana Lookadoo January 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Excellent insights by some thought leaders.

I especially took note of what Nichola said, “How can an SEO not pay attention to social media?” One does wonder, as David said, will SEOs truly understand how it can be leveraged?

Andy Beard brings up some good points about long-term authority, and it will be interesting to see how much Google (now that they’ve acknowledged social’s influence) will factor in social signals .

Al Mackin January 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

Interesting article; most social media platforms put nofollow on links, either on the link or in the meta.

Is there any value in any of these links from social media? Technically (forgetting that SMM may get you on to the front page of Google) what’s the value of Social Media to an SEO’er?

I’ve seen links to my own sites from YouTube leak through in to WMT, despite the nofollows.

Dennis Sievers January 7, 2011 at 10:13 am

Although I believe that citation is an important part of Googles ranking algorithm, I don’t see Social Media as a stable part of long term SEO, too. So I go with Andy.

Social media can be used perfectly to detect what’s hot at the moment, who’s talking about it (authority or not) and which sites get mentioned in those conversations, to boost their rankings. I don’t believe it is truly useful when you focus on the long term results though.

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