Google’s Matt Cutts Talks Facebook/Twitter Links’ Influence on Search Ranking

How Google Handles Social Links

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We recently looked at how Google and Bing use links on Twitter and Facebook for organic ranking, following an informative piece from Danny Sullivan on the matter. Google’s Matt Cutts has now addressed the subject a bit more in a new video uploaded to Googles’ Webmaster Help Channel

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"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 creator on Twitter or Facebook," says Cutts. "I filmed a video back in May 2010 where I said that we didn’t use that as a signal, and at the time, we did not use that as a signal, but now, we’re taping this in December 2010, and we are using that as a signal."

Now, this doesn’t mean that suddenly Twitter and Facebook links are the main ranking factor determining where your content is showing up in organic searches. If anything, Google seems to be tiptoeing into the waters in this area. 

"The web search quality team has a lot of different groups in a lot of different offices, so people including the original Blog Search team, people who worked on Realtime Search…have been working on using these sorts of things as a signal," explains Cutts. "So primarily, it has been used a little bit more in the realtime sort of search, where you might see individual tweets or other links showing up, and streaming up on the page. We’re studying how much sense it makes to use it a little more widely within our web search rankings."

To reiterate, you’ll still see this playing more of a role in realtime search, but Google is "looking at it more broadly within web search as well," according to Cutts.

"Now, there’s a few things to remember," Cutts warns. "Number one is: if we can’t crawl a page (if we can’t see a page), then we can’t really assign PageRank to it, and it doesn’t really count. So if we’re able to obtain the data, then we can use it, but if for some reason a page is forbidden for us to crawl or if we’re not able to obtain it somehow, then we wouldn’t be able to use it within our rankings."

This would appear to mean that links within Facebook will not mean a whole lot when the user isn’t sharing their updates with everyone. Many Facebook users have their privacy settings adjusted to only share with their friends. While Facebook may have far more users than Twitter, privacy settings will greatly reduce that number in terms of links that will potentially help your search rankings.  

"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," says Cutts. "The one thing I would caution people about is don’t necessarily say to yourself, ‘Ha. 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 who mean quality. Who are the people who actually are not just bots or some software program or things like that."

Would you like to see Facebook/Twitter links carry more weight in organic search? Share your thoughts here.

Related: Google & Bing Are Looking at Links on Twitter & Facebook for Organic Ranking

Google’s Matt Cutts Talks Facebook/Twitter Links’ Influence on Search Ranking
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  • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ james

    I think it is a really great move on their part to embrace some changes. I haven’t been following rel-nofollow that much lately, but perhaps they are reaching a point where they are advanced enough to do without it?

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    It’s always good to hear from Matt Cutts. One must keep their ear to the ground listening for changes to the algo in the PR. I hear all the time that PR is not as important as it used to be, well as long as Matt still uses the word in his communications I’d have to think otherwise ;)

    Happy Holiday’s Everyone!

  • http://www.blogginhealth.com BlogginHealth

    Should be good news if they follow on what they say. It’s time the search engines follow the trend and social sites are the most visited these days.


    As long as I have PR 0 pages ranked #1 for highly competitive search terms I’m going to give it the usual Matt Cutts/Google statement treatment. Strip out the bull and the noise and you’re left with. “Google is going to start assigning more value to Twitter links”.

  • http://www.sherwoodpainting.com Mike

    We will wait and see how this all plays out in 2011. Twitter is gaing huge in popularity and facebook has now reached 500 million members. It is good to know that twitter will have some PR pull with Google.

    • http://str82u.co/ Str82u

      I can see some website owners paying social users a buck or more to link to their websites. Truthfully, the “money” can only stretch so far or real world commerce would break down somehow but one thought is; how far can it go to support users with good reputations being bought as advertising or PR/SEO tools?

  • http://www.cognisant-hosting.com A Lloyd

    This is not good news. This will tilt the table further towards the big guys. Look at it this way, if you are a small business selling anything e.g. rooms in a small hotel you will find it difficult to generate as many twitter/facebook links as a large tour operator unless you employ someone all day long to generate stupid messages! The same applies to followers, unless you get into buying followers you are not going to find it easy to get large number of followers for your small operation, because lets face it you have a real business to run rather than mess about on a computer or i-phone all day. Google will be well advised to leave these links out in order to reduce the chances of cheat-merchants hijacking the SERP. Google had to review the impact of links to assess relevance due to all the nonsense link-swapping and link-buying charades. They will just swap one charade for another if they push ahead with this. Why on earth do you need to mess around with the concept as simple as Relevance? Just check the content, which is all that matters and all that any internet browser is ever interested in. The rest is just nonsense for a bunch of people trying to create jobs for themselves and Google is unwittingly obliging.

  • http://www.cyprusexploring.com CyprusExploring

    Time after time search engines needs to update they code.
    I think that old good SEO things will come back. Yes FB and TW plays lots now. Like a link ferms.
    You need to be clear what for contend You have on Your web site. if this is not natural web site with posted some basic information it will go down, if page is updated with good unique contend it will go up.
    Lets get back to white SEO!

  • http://www.thestonesculptor.com Jason Nelson

    I’m glad that google is putting more weight on links from facebook and twitter. Over the last year, I have been working to grow a large following on facebook, so, I’m glad that it is something that will be noticed by google.

  • http://www.daronet.com/campaign/campaign.asp daronet

    I think matt’s declaration is related somehow to the notorious Google-Facebook battle. It’s no secret that Google are upset for not being able to query Facebook gold-info. Hence they break out with this declaration (“let us query your profile for establishing quality good links”) in order to encourage the facebook-end-user to publicly display their contents so that Google will query it and give significant weight to their profile links when actually the major goal is to query their private info–to which they don’t have access nowadays.

    When thinking of it, it seems logical, doesn’t it?

  • http://edbutowsky73.wordpress.com Ed

    ITs really good to hear that google is actually looking outside the box. I have heard many new changes are coming in google’s arsenal. Especially as google tries to compete with the social medium that Facebook and Twitter have established so well. Would you use facebook as a search engine if it were to be come one?

    • http://1stgoonie.wordpress.com/ orone

      I don’t think that Google, Facebook, or twitter will never become like each other. They will always complement each other. The social infrastructure is very fickle, and people are even more so. Dont make them mad or they will not use your service.

  • http://jayoyakawa.wordpress.com Jay

    Someone commented on the thread that if people could search facebook would they? I think so. No one would ever leave facebook if they could do it all in one place. However, the real question is how does google become like a facebook? Either way its a tall mountain to climb to achieve that hurdle. If they weren’t so competative with each other we could find a way to allow people who find me at http://twitter.com/jayoyakawa to automatically see my bookmarks from google buzz and my latest status from facebook in one internace and like wise when they find me on google chat to see my info from facebook/twitter. What a concept, maybe that interface could be called google facetwit :)

  • Dan G

    I think facebook/twitter/etc.,,, is actually damaging search engine results by filling up the results with useless garbage that has nothing to do with with the search parameters or worse yet, produces useless search results.

  • http://usgiftgiant.com/ US GIFT GIANT

    useful articles

  • http://www.geekyfaust.info Faust

    does this mean that google’s pagerank update will be based on facebook and twitter‘s stream?

  • http://www.addmine.com Kendo

    These idiots have already polluted and poisoned search results, and now they want to make more of a mess?

    We give them 28 billion dollars per year and all they can do is pollute the internet?

    • http://www.addmine.com Kendo

      And after spying on your traffic they’ll want to ruin your business also. I’ll bet that Amazon, who after more than a decade of floating a struggling venture is real impressed by the news that the monkey brains at Google want to try and steal their business with their usual “look at me I am so innovating and such a clever copy-cat” ethics.

      No doubt the headlines will read “Google revolutionizes eBook industry”… Google discovers that by penalizing search results for Amazon that they can steal interest in Amazon’s eBooks. Are they all as matt as a cutt snake?

      Isn’t it time that everyone woke up and turned their back on Google?

  • http://www.mlmconsultant.com/mlmlibrary_newbinary.htm Rod Cook Subscriber

    Using Social Media is actually damaging search engine results by filling up the results with useless trivia. This trivia has nothing to do with with the search parameters the end result is bad search results. I don’t need to look for flower seeds and find 100 seedy tweets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andyfullard andy

    im glad i registered my name years ago and got it before anyone else did, i understand both those sites have a first come first served principle on the permanent address so its a good time to get your name before anyone else does.

  • http://www.personalfn.com PersonalFN

    Its really good to see, that Google is noticing the efforts which has been put in Social Media, more importantly,i guess Google can easily identify who is trying to spam in FB or Twitter. Link farm techniques may not work on these platform, as moderators of these websites are also very active.

    FB and twitter are the most potential platforms for natural links, as i had noticed that if you really like a web page or content you will share it your friends, that increase the value of link, and you can earn more traffic and more branding for your product.

    Interesting to see Matt talking about PR, whereas PR has not been updated for last 6 months, not sure PR still holds any kind of importance.

    • http://addmine.com.au Kendo

      When I do tests on our keywords I always see ahead of us sites whose only relation to the search string is part of it in the page title, once in the body text and no PR at all.

      Google is pulling everyone’s leg!

  • http://findmeasolicitor.com Find Me A Solicitor

    Let’s face it, no matter how much we hate Google, everyone that has a website, loves them when their site starts getting traffic. Yes we want to leverage facebook/twitter popularity of our sites and as a site owner, every little helps… on the other hand as a web surfer… some things are getting a bit messy. I only saw it once but i saw what looked a twitter list of results in a box about a third down down the page with the natural search results and i thought: WTF…

  • http://www.financial-accounting.us Accounting

    I have already experienced this when searching on Google. Listing of status of twitter accounts related to our keyword phrases have been around for last few months….

  • http://www.coolfunnytshirts.net coolfunnytshirts.net

    Its an interesting way of involving social media networks factor

  • http://acneremedyclub.com Acne Remedy Club

    It’s great to know that those type of links are into consideration by Google. So no matter how expert a webmaster is, but he/she must be social enough :) It’s a nice strategy put forward by Google anyway.

  • http://www.yeznetmall.com Troy

    It used to be, in the good old days, if you were selling a product, you would do research and SEO for that product and the related pages on your website. If I want to sell a product or offer a service, I do not want to spend hours a day on social networking. I would rather work on my site and improve it naturally. I have enough work to do running a business already.

    Also, as a shopper online, I dont want to see twitter and facebook links when I am looking for a product. I want to see the product now and quickly without pages of junk.

    It is going to boil down to money. Whoever has the money to have a full time team of social networkers in house will win.

    Let’s stick to good standart SEO and make sure the websites offer good, real content to the customers.

  • http://www.monclerjackets.org Guest

    this is welcome , many seoers will enbrace Cutts. hehe….

  • http://www.rugfirm.com Rugfirm

    For those of us trying to promote our websites, this is really useful information, and I think search engines will be getting more data from social networks in the future as such networks gain more and more popularity.

  • http://www.makemoneyteam.com Ray

    It’s OK that they are looking at your reputation on social media sites, but they should only use this as a small factor because there are website owners that do not use social media and their sites should not suffer just because they are not a Twitter user or whatever.

  • http://www.amsale.co.il/ amsale

    i think its great thet google use Twitter and Facebook links in ranking becuse every web site have Twitter and Facebook and its can help him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgmpFcMBQA Elder Care Fullerton Ca

    It’s really a great and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you just shared this helpful tidbit with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

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