Google and Bing come clean on Social Media (SM)
It has long been thought that with the addition of social media features and search options from both Googleand Bing that social activity, Tweets and FB posts and commenting were being used, to some extent, in both of their search algoriths. But, until now that was all it was.
However, from a series of questions asked by Danny Sullivan of SEL (Search Engine Land), both have come clean and admitted they are using them in different ways to varying degrees.
Just how does Twitter & Facebook effect search?
Both search engines provide social search results but he asked both about how these factors influence regular organic web search results.
The questions below were sent to both search engines with the responses compiled from email received from Google and a telephone conversation with Bing.
Questions & Answers
1) If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-nofollowed links that may naturally result from it?
We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top when best match relevancy is used.
Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article.
2) Do you try to calculate the authority of someone who tweets that might be assigned to their Twitter page. Do you try to “know,” if you will, who they are?
Yes. We do calculate the authority of someone who tweets. For known public figures or publishers, we do associate them with who they are. (For example, query for Danny Sullivan)
Yes we do compute and use author quality. We don’t know who anyone is in real life 🙂
3) Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who tweets it?
Yes we do use this as a signal, especially in the “Top links” section [of Google Realtime Search]. Author authority is independent of PageRank, but it is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search.
4) Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?
Yes. We look at links shared that are marked as “Everyone,” and links shared from Facebook fan pages.
We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.
5) Do you try to calculate the authority of someone on Facebook, either say via their personal wall or their fan page.
We don’t do this on Facebook. On Facebook, we only get what’s public, only updates and things you’ve posted to everyone as viewable. We don’t get things only shared with friends, so we don’t know how authoritative you are on Facebook. There isn’t the whole convenient retweet mechanism we see on Twitter.
We do see valuable content shared by Facebook users, even though we only get what’s public. For example when Gary Coleman died we saw a video from Different Strokes, saying his favorite line “what ya talk’in ’bout Willis” gain popularity. It happened to be what a lot of people are sharing on the day he passed away.
Again, the treatment is the same as for Twitter. And we have no personal wall data from Facebook.
6) Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who shared it on Facebook?
We can tell if something is of quality on Facbook by leveraging Twitter. If the same link is shared in both places, it’s more likely to be legitimate.
Same as question 5.
7) And just to be really clear, the new Facebook data is not yet being used in ordinary web search, right? (asked only of Bing, because it was only relevant to them)
So, it is important who you follow, who follows you, who your friends are and the extent and quality of the posts, comments, tweets and retweets made by you and others within your social circle.
Like most things, regardless of the overall range of output, it is the relevance of your activity, your perceived social authority and the authority of those that participate in your social media world which carries most weight for your SEO activities.
Update (Thursday 13 January 2011):
There is growing evidence that Social Media (SM) signals are playing a bigger role in search of all types including organic.
This link at Search Engine Land (SEL) What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count? helps confirm and supports it.