Over the past year, both Google and Bing have added many social search features. There’s also been talk about using “social signals” to help rank regular search results. But are either of the major search engines actually using those social signals to rank regular search results?
In December 2010, Google confirmed that the playing field had changed a little. Here’s what that means for you and your content.
In May, 2010, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that Google was not using social media links as a signal. And then in December, 2010, he announced equally firmly that they had changed their mind:.
We do use Twitter and Facebook links in ranking, as we always have in our web search rankings, but in addition we’re also trying to figure out a little bit about the reputation of an author or a creator on twitter or Facebook.
This is something that is used relatively lightly for now, and we’ll see how much we use it over time, depending on how useful it is and how robust it ends up being. The one thing I would caution people about is, don’t necessarily say to yourself, “Aha, now I’m going to go out and get reciprocal follows and I’m gonna get a ton of followers,” just like people used to get a ton of links.
In the same way that PageRank depends on not just the number of links but the quality of those links, you have to think about what are the followers that mean quality, who are the people who are actually not just bots, or some software program or things like that.
Google uses more than 200 different “signals” to decide how to rank those pages, in response to any search. Some of these signals are well-known, such as:
* PageRank, how authoritative a page is deemed to be
* Anchor text pointing at a page
* HTML title tag, and whether the words you searched for appear within it
And the social sharing will probably become a stronger signal soon. There are many other factors beyond above those. Bing also uses a complex recipe – or algorithm – of signals to determine rankings, according to this article
Writers, on the other hand, need to pay close attention to the relevance and quality of their words.
In the recent blog post from the Google blog, Matt Cutts discusses upcoming algorithmic changes focused on identifying webspam and “content farms,” which are sites that contain junky and unoriginal content. Those changes are now in effect.
The changes to writers means that, as a writer, no matter what kind of content you are creating and writing, know your audience, do you research, write well (style, spelling, grammar, let your own voice shine etc) and engage becomes more important than ever.
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