Matt Cutts Explains How Important Social Media Signals Really Are

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Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, answers a question about social media signals in his latest Webmaster Help video where a user writes in to ask:

Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm? How much do they matter?

Facebook and Twitter pages are treated just like any other indexed pages, Matt explains. If Google is able to crawl it on Facebook and Twitter, it will be included in the search results.

Google Doesn’t Crawl Social Media Sites Like Other Pages

To the best of Matt’s knowledge, there are currently no signals in the ranking algorithms that put any weight on how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers a specific page has.

The reason for this, Matt says, is that there was one instance where Google was blocked from crawling these pages for over a month. As a result, Google engineers are weary of doing any kind of special engineering work to extract data from pages when they might get blocked from being able to crawl them in the future.

Another reason why they don’t crawl social media sites too extensively is due to the personal and time sensitive nature of the content. If Google crawled social media pages the way they crawl other sites, the snippets could end up containing information the user didn’t intend to have showing up in search results.

Social Signals Seem To Have No Affect On Rankings

Matt says not to assume that because there is a signal on Facebook or Twitter pointing to your site that Google is able to access it. This is due to various reasons such as the social media profile being blocked from public viewing, or the link is no-followed, or other things like that.

As a result of not being able to access social signals, Matt gives the impression that they don’t directly influence rankings. Matt goes back to the familiar argument of correlation does not equal causation. An awesome piece of content doesn’t rank well because it has a lot of Facebook likes, it ranks well because it’s awesome, and in turn it gets shared on Facebook a lot because it’s awesome.

Influence To Be A Factor in the Future

Matt ends the video by saying that in the future he expects Google to be able to better identify who is writing content where and place more importance on it based on the influence of the individual. But for the time being, Google has to crawl the web as it is.

To hear Matt’s full explanation, please see the video below:

Matt Southern
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in... Read Full Bio
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  • I have seen posts with more then 70 tweets on the first pages of the search result pages. Although my guess may not be true but I personally think Google do count the tweets and other social signals in ranking. However they don’t want us to know because once the rule of games are known they can easily be manipulated.

    • Parthavi

      Correct!! I agree with you. I have also noticed this before when Matt said about PR submission. But they were indeed major factor for rankings.

  • There is a much stronger connection between Google+ and Rankings than Twitter of Facebook. Here is a correlation analysis built on this topic:

    • I agree with you… Matt clearly says that they are skeptic because they never know when FB & Twitter again blocks Google to read their feeds… but Google Plus being their own product they are least concern about that… and even they are aware about the working mechanism.

      So I strongly believe that Google Plus (+1) has impact over search engine rankings.

  • I don’t think they should count social media popularity as a ranking factor. But Matt again confirmed that Author Rank is coming

  • If Google can’t count the Facebook likes or Twitter ‘tweets’ it just shows how important it is to have a good presence on Google+ – they can ‘t deny taking that in to account..

  • how much likes and tweets are Useful in one day according Google policy

  • Awesome post and take outs. Really great case study.

  • This year it was raining like cats and dogs, and most of the people bought yellow rain coats. That doesn’t mean – most of the people bought yellow rain coats; that’s why it was raining like cats and dogs.

    In the same line – An awesome content which ranks well get plenty of Facebook likes. That doesn’t mean – Due to plenty of likes the content ranks well.

  • Its seems like Google+ profiles with a lot of connections pull first.. When you search “internet marketing” in a specific area, there’s a profile that always comes up at the top.

  • As per my research, Social Signals does play a role. Because after the launch of Google+ there is lot of importance given in Socio-Search i.e. Social Platforms & SEO. There are lot of articles talking about the presence of the Social Buttons on the pages which will help them increase the popularity of the websites.

  • Sorry guys, but for me, at least for now as far as social media signals is concerned, what Matt Southern said sums it all up:

    “An awesome piece of content doesn’t rank well because it has a lot of Facebook likes, it ranks well because it’s awesome, and in turn it gets shared on Facebook a lot because it’s awesome”

  • I was focusing to increase my facebook likes and twitter followers, i think now i should change my strategy promote my website.

  • Been there done that, went up with a bang but dropped a few notches subsequently. Doesn’t really hold but should have the signals in place, it is just as important.

  • It’s definitely true that great content gets shares, I’m still surprised how many SMBs aren’t using Facebook or G+ accounts to help promote their site. Even if the sharing aspect doesn’t yet contribute greatly to SERP results it still helps you get your brand and services into the hands of the right audiences.

    • I don’t quite exactly agree. Because, first of all. Businesses use Social media for a short-term burst. Subsequently, you still need to use traditional ways to help build a strong branding. Through social media is not enough. Nonetheless, it does help in create some awareness.

  • Thanks for sharing Matt video but even I think that there is a relation between social media and ranking factors. And yes Google really gives more importance to Google+ page for sure.

  • Once again a excellent writeup to guide us in terms of SEO.Social media is really playing a important role to increase website visibility on search engine .Thanks

  • Social network are often closed to crawling and this is very important to remark. For a IR perspective, I think that social signal are considered too labile and/or volatile to be considered as a part of a ranking algorithm: so just this, they can help increasing unique on our websites but no influence at all for the rest.

  • yeah !! there really much to learn from here .