Both Bing and Google have confirmed that links shared on Twitter and Facebook have an impact on search engine rankings. This was confirmed in Danny Sullivan’s interview http://searchengineland.com/what-social-signals-do-google-bing-really-count-55389.
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?
Bing: 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.
Google: 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?
Bing: 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)
Google: 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?
Google: 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.
So how can we put this into use?
- Sharing – Using an RSS feed to publish to Twitter/Facebook
- Sources – Retweets and links to page
- Content – What text surrounds the link?
- Engagement – How many people actually click the link
In order for a link to have impact, the user announcing the link must also have authority:
- Quantity of friends or followers
- Importance of friends or followers
- Friend or Follower ratio
- Association with domains/websites
This is just another step towards integration across all organic marketing – search, social, content, blogs, links etc.