12% Say Social Has No Influence On Google Rankings

Mar 26, 2013 • 8:25 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

social ranking pollA few months ago, we asked if social signals influence Google rankings?

We have almost 500 responses from the SEO community and since I am offline today, I figured it would be a good day to share that response.

In short, only 12% said social signals have absolutely no influence on Google rankings. 88% said there was some influence.

  • 46% said there was social influence on Google rankings.
  • 42% said there was only a little social influence on Google rankings.
  • 12% said there was no social influence on Google rankings.

Who is right? Probably the 12%. But it depends on how you think of the question. Core ranking? No personalization? Excluding the fact that social impacts links?

Anyway, there you have it.

Forum discussion continued at WebmasterWorld.

This story was scheduled to be posted today and was not written today.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: March 25, 2013



03/26/2013 01:07 pm

"Who is right? Probably the 12%." - Can you expand on that? Why do you think the 12% is right? Seems an odd position when 88% claim that there is an impact.

Barry Adams

03/26/2013 02:11 pm

Can we please, as an industry, stop confusing correlation for causation? Yes there's a positive correlation between social shares/likes/+1s/etc and organic rankings. No, those social signals are very likely not directly responsible for those organic rankings. It's much more multi-layered than that, but as usual most SEOs just prefer the simplest explanation that they can wrap their shortcut-seeking short-term-gain-focused brains around.

Clay Adams

03/26/2013 02:14 pm

Yep, I'm in that 12 for sure.

Chase Anderson

03/26/2013 02:23 pm

I agree - strip away personalization, people dropping twitter feed widgets and the other outlyers, social just doesn't impact Google rankings yet. Why? Because google can't get a good handle on the data: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/google-ceo-larry-page-charlie-rose_n_1535683.html


03/26/2013 02:25 pm

Pure speculations. No doubt nobody did a real tests, since it would be very complicated and very time consuming to run such tests. Furthermore, it's very dependable from niche, demographic, geography, etc etc etc. Useless poll provided useless results.

Chase Anderson

03/26/2013 03:08 pm

I couldn't have said it better. Barry Adams - you're my hero!

Nick Ker

03/26/2013 03:18 pm

Amen. Remember Monty Python's Life of Brian? "Follow the shoe!" "No! Follow the gourd!" This all or nothing, either/or, simplistic mentality would be funny if all of the people who think that way weren't writing "authoritative" blogs about what they heard was the next simple solution to everything.


03/26/2013 04:57 pm

Damm straight! Conclusion jumping is a major flaw in the SEO industry.


03/26/2013 06:42 pm

Just observing how brands are being more and more shaped by UGC, closely related to SMO, make me consider they could be a signal in some form or another. Google says " Linking your Google+ page and your site like this not only helps you build relationships with friends and followers, but also gives Google information we can use to determine the relevancy of your site to a user query in Google Web Search." One cool test would be to remove #Amazon citations and links from Twitter, would particular pages drop in rankings?

Lord of SEO

03/26/2013 07:25 pm

12 here too, are social links from dofollow sites counted? Facebook likes do fuck all i have data to prove it.

Tim Smith

03/26/2013 11:22 pm

Unlikely anyone can say for sure, but if content is readily shared via social channels, isn't that a potential indication of quality? Would make sense for Google to factor this in. However like many areas of SEO, it's hard to prove and may change from one day to the next.


03/27/2013 12:25 am

The percent of people sharing what they read/view is like 1% or 0.5%, it would stupid if search engines use this low figure to influence on rankings. Social helps to get a little bit more of traffic (if you have something viral), that's it.


03/27/2013 08:16 am

Also in the 12% pool.There is no real data/evidence out there to prove it just yet.But I do speculate however that yes if you have a lot of citations/mentions on the web that Google will see you as an authority and maybe take that into account when ranking you for a particular term.As they say "watch this space" :)


03/27/2013 08:27 am

So, it seems that almost 60% of the SEOs (http://tinyurl.com/c3bxs7q) claim that social signals are just rubbish. I thought so for a while now. Links are all that matter and this won't change soon, IMO.


04/17/2013 05:27 pm

I have yet to see any significant data or any conclusive studies showing how social metrics have broadly impacted search results. I did once read a great blog study that included numerous analyses of the top ranking URLs for several search phrases. In that study, among many search phrases, there actually was one single search phrase (among several) which did seem to show some influence from better social metrics. I wish I could remember what that blog was - possibly on Moz. But I have read so many search ranking analyses over the past few years, and that was the only instance for which I have seen any likely concrete influence of social metrics on search rank. So I fall into the "virtually none" category for this survey. To all of you 46% who say "Yes," that social does influence social rankings, please provide evidence. I see a lot of vague claims, statements of belief, expressions of gut feelings, and repetition of the mantra about social's growing signal. These claims often come from social media coordinators, strategists, or specialists. Anecdotal tales should not convince us of anything as they're not credible evidence. Please show us a broad study. Matt Cutts claimed, in December 2010, that social signals were being used "lightly" in web search: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofhwPC-5Ub4&feature=player_embedded. Any hard evidence out there showing how or when?

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