Is Google Going Too Far Using Social Signals In Search Results?
See update 4-4-2012 at the end of this post
Google is getting more serious with social signals and how they return search results.
Over the past few weeks (actually, for a long time now) Google and Bing have been talking a lot about how social media will be a bigger and bigger part of the way they rank webpages. This was confirmed at the SXSWest conference, when both Matt Cutts from Google webspam team and Duane Forrester from Bing talked about social signals and the search results at Bing and G. Here is the link to the audio.
The real question is how they will put this all together as an algorithm so that people cannot “game” the system.
Anyone can buy FaceBook likes, Plus ones and Tweets. In order for the SERPs to bring back good results it will need to sift through the clutter and get to what is really a legitimate social signal.
From what I see, so far it is based on 2 things – how many people are in your circle and how many people have + 1ed the content. The people in the circle seem to be the most important of the 2 at this time.
Keep in mind this is just observation, and is in no way a case study or a new strategy.
An example of this would be for the keyword “how to get a business loan”. Last week (March 28th 2012) smallbusinessloans.com was ranked first for this keyword, today it is ranked number 4. The page that this keyword brought back was:
If you look at the results now, the first 3 are from About.com.
Here is a screen shot showing that the search was for the United States and the first results are from Canada.
The first result is from Canada. So currently a search from the U.S. for “how to get a business loan” will bring back an article for Canadian business loans. The next thing that you will notice is that the url of the first 3 do not have the keyword “how to get a business loan” in the url. The first result does have a phrase match, but none of them have the keyword in an H1 tag, or at least one that I could find.
The major factor here would seem to be the profile of Susan Ward. It looks like Susan started a Google profile on December 27,2011. She also has a business profile. The business profile has 7 people in her circle, but her personal one has 216 in her circles and 142 have her in their circles. After checking with multiple business profiles in different market segments, it would seem that the business profiles have fewer in their circles and do not show up in the search results.
However, the personal account seems to be the one that has the most impact, and it would make sense that people will be more likely to follow a person than a faceless company.
Google and Bing have been telling us for some time now that the search results would be driven more and more by social signals, and it looks like it is more about the personal circles rather than business.
So what does this mean for the link building community? It’s simple. You will need to put Google’s +1 in your back linking mix. If the profile is a personal one, it will most likely work better for rankings.
I, for one, will be asking my clients for a G +1 profile to begin back linking campaigns and showing them the example above as to what can be accomplished.
This is a new website, and I have just started to begin to write blog post. Although the site is indexed in Google it did not surprise me that a new blog post has not been indexed after a few days. I wrote the post and published it and then went straight to Google to set up a G+ account, so that is new as well.
After 2 days I am getting familiar with the G+ and added a few people that I want to have in my circle, one of them is Danny Sullivan. I noticed right away that he had a blog post about marketers and G+. I quickly made a comment because I had just did a this post on that topic.
After about 30 minutes I did a search for the title of this post with quotation marks, here is a screen shot showing that a popular G+ account is getting index fast, thanks Danny, I think. You can find my new G+ account here at Rob Wagner