Are pages from social media sites ranked differently?
Ryan from Michigan, asked if Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm, and how much do they matter.
Facebook and Twitter are treated like any other pages on our web index. If some things occur on Twitter or Facebook, and if Google is able to crawl it, they can return that in their search results. But as far as doing special specific work to say, you have this many followers on Twitter, or this many likes on Facebook, Google does not currently have a signal like that in their web search ranking algorithm. Why not?
Google has to crawl the web in order to find pages on those two web properties and they’ve had at least one experience where they were blocked from crawling for about a month and a half, and so the idea of doing a lot of special engineering work to try to extract some data from web pages when they might get blocked from being able to crawl those web pages in the future is something where the engineers would be a little bit leery about doing them. It’s also tricky because Google crawls the web and as they crawl those web pages, they are sampling the web at finite periods of time – they’re crawling and fetching a particular webpage. If they’re fetching up to a webpage, at one point in time, something on that page could change. i.e. someone could change the relationship status, or someone could block a follower, and so it would be a little unfortunate if they tried to extract some data from the pages that they crawled and later on found out that for example, a wife had blocked an abusive husband or something like that. Just because they happen to crawl at the exact moment when those two profiles were linked, Google starts to return page that they had crawled. So, because Google is sampling an imperfect web, they have to worry about identity when identity is already hard. Unless they are able to get some ways to solve that impasse where they had better information, that’s another reason why the engineers will be a little bit leery of trying to extract data when that data might change and they wouldn’t know, because they are only crawling the web.
That doesn’t mean you should not use Twitter or Facebook. As we know, there are tons of people who loves to tweet and get the time of value from both Twitter and Facebook. Both of these services represent a fantastic avenue. It’s a way to drive visitors and traffic to your site. It’s also a way to let people know about news related to you or your company, or your website so they’re great ways to build up your personal brand. But don’t necessarily assume that just because there’s a signal on Facebook or Twitter that Google is able to access that. Alot of pages might be blocked, or there may be no following links or something along those lines. There was an SEO that aw alot of links on Facebook and those pages that ranked well, but that’s correlation and not causation. Instead, it’s probably that there’s something really awesome, and because of that, it gets alot of likes on Facebook and alot of people decides to link to it. That’s the sort of thing where the better content you make, the more people will like it. Not only on Google, but in Twitter and Facebook as well.
Over a 10 year span, it’s clear that people are going to know more about who’s actually writing what on the web – it won’t be just completely anonymouse. There will hopefully still be options for people to post anonymously. Over 10 years, Google should be more likely to understand identity and understand the social connections between people. But for the time being, they have to deal with the web as it is, and what they are allowed to crawl, and what they can easily extract from that and count on being able to access in the future.