Social Signals Not Used in SEO?

Back in December 2010 Matt Cutts stated “we do use Twitter and Facebook links in ranking as we always have in our web search rankings” he follows on by explaining that they take into account the authority of the people generating the signals.

However, in a video released 22nd January 2014, Matt Cutts states that social signals are not included in Google’s search algorithm.

The ranking algorithm doesn’t always take into account how many Likes or Retweets you have. Given the mass use of social media and the amount of time spent and opinion shared on social media, this is surprising.

Cutts states 3 reasons for its lack of inclusion:

  1. Google cannot access and index all social signals. They are blocked from crawling social media sites from time to time, making data from them unreliable.
  2. Facebook does have a privacy option “Do you want other search engines to link to your Timeline?” Not having this option set to yes means that a lot of Facebook data wouldn’t be available.
  3. Basically due to the nature of social media website, the content of a page could change hundreds of times shortly after Google has indexed that page, meaning that the data and results very quickly go out of date; which could be harmful to some people.

I imagine that this statement doesn’t extend to Google’s own social network G+ as they clearly have no issues indexing or crawling these sites. This once again reinforces that more importance is given to G+ than other networks.

Does this mean I should forget about using social media for SEO?

No, far from it. Content shared on social media can generate a lot of interest and also qualified traffic – traffic is something that Google definitely takes into account. It can also lead to the discovery of your content and further sharing in blogs, forums and on other websites.

Cutts states that going forward Google will be looking to index social websites better and more accurately. He also hinted that social signals would be used to better identify individuals, for example a well-known blogger posting on a small blog or forum is something that he would want to know about, regardless of where they are posting.