Over the years, many webmasters have been wondering if the Google search ranking algorithms that dictate the rankings of their sites factors in Twitter and Facebook popularity. Finally, Google has answered that question through Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, who discussed the topic in his latest webmaster help video.
Facebook and Twitter signals not taken into account
In his video, Cutts says Facebook and Twitter signals are not being taken into account by Google search ranking algorithms. Google, according to Cutts, treats Facebook and Twitter like any of the pages it has indexed. When it crawls anything that happens on either social media network, Google just returns it in its search results just like any other site.
Interestingly, Cutts also presents reasons why they’re not taking Facebook and Twitter signals into account. Google regularly crawls both Facebook and Twitter, but Cutts says it had experienced being blocked from crawling for about a month and a half. Because of this, Google’s engineers aren’t too excited about doing some special engineering work in the future to try to extract data from Facebook and Twitter pages only to be blocked like that.
Cutts also points out the fact that social profiles change a little too frequently. Considering that Google only samples the web at specific points in time, this presents a major problem for the search engine giant. Cutts cites examples such as a social media user changing a relationship status or blocking an abusive husband, and Google crawling that page while the two profiles are still linked. When Google returns those pages, they will in effect be showing incorrect information, and that is something Google is concerned about.
Facebook and Twitter remain valuable tools
However, despite Facebook and Twitter signals not being taken into consideration by Google search ranking algorithms, Cutts still maintains that they remain valuable tools. Cutts himself is an avid Twitter user, and acknowledges that both are great ways to build a personal brand. Google just isn’t accessing Facebook and Twitter signals for now, for reasons already stated above.
Cutts also aired words of caution to those who assume that their page will rank well in Google if their Facebook page has tons of Likes. The head of Google’s webspam team says it ranks probably because it has awesome content, not because it has many likes. As long as the page has great content, people are going to like it on Facebook, and many other people are going to link to it. The actual Likes have nothing to do with it getting good rankings.
Looking to the future
Still, Cutts remains open to the idea of that changing in the future. He’s optimistic that in the next ten years or so, Google will finally be able to understand identity and the social connections between people. For now, however, the world’s biggest search engine has to deal with the web the way it is now, and that means Google search ranking algorithms aren’t going to factor in Facebook and Twitter signals for the time being.
Now webmasters really don’t have to be sad about Cutts’ pronouncements that Twitter and Facebook popularity does not really matter when it comes to ranking. After all, Facebook and Twitter still have a lot of benefits to offer, with or without any direct relation between them and ranking high in Google’s results pages.