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Finally Proof that Social Sharing Either Helps Rankings or Doesn’t

There has been lots of interesting data shared in the last year about whether or not Google+ shares or Facebook shares help you rank higher.  Conventional SEO wisdom has been that, yes, they do indeed help.  Two studies have driven this opinion:

  • SearchMetrics in 2012 found that “The volume of Facebook and Twitter shares a web page generates is closely correlated with how high it ranks in Google searches.” [Click To Tweet] In fact, with a correlation of .37, Facebook shares had a stronger association with a top ranking than any other factor studied. (source)
  • social-flowers-375Moz found in its 2013 Correlation Study of websites that rank high, that Google +1s had a .30 correlation and Facebook shares a .27 correlation . [Tweet This] (source)

But… don’t get too excited… those studies above are about “correlation” not causation. The question still remains: Do Google+ shares or facebook shares cause you to rank higher?

  • Eric Enge did  a study in December 2013 on the impact of Facebook Likes and Shares on SEO and could find no evidence that Google is using Facebook to discover, index or rank any content on the web at this time. [Tweet This] (source)
  • Eric Enge also did the study  in September 2013 on Google+ shares and found that they did not drive any material rankings changes that could be detected! [Tweet This] (source)

These two studies by Eric Enge appear to be thoughtful and statistically relevant.  However… there are other studies (or case studies as the case may be.) that contradict and point to the power of social shares and how they help rankings

    • Tweets cause content to jump to high rankings… but the rankings fade over time. [Tweet This] (source)
    • A page on Moz.com experiences large, but short-lived jumps in search engine traffic when a popular twitter account tweets a link to one of their pages (source)
    • twitterjeffalytics.com found that Google+ shares caused jumps in rankings that lasted over time. [TweetThis] (source)
    • Shrushti documents pages jumping from 400th spot to 1st page (in Google.co.uk) after receiving social signals from Twitter, Google+ and Facebook [Tweet This] (source)
    • Neil Patel of Quicksprout helped me find the case studies above (and made the fancy infographic below. He also shared an experiment: (source)
  • A site received 100 Google+ followers on their Google+ business page and their ranking went up 14.63% [Tweet This]
  • A site received 300 Google +1 votes and their ranking went up by 9.44% [Tweet This]
  • A site received 79 Facebook shares and 50 Facebook likes and their ranking went up by 6.9%
  • A site received 50 tweets and their ranking went up by 2.88%

Yikes!  What should you believe?  That is a rhetorical question, I can’t answer it.

There is one area of clarity though, online reviews do make you money!  There is ample evidence that good reviews and rating really drive customers to businesses that receive them  Here are two from the hotel industry, for example:

  • Good Reviews: regression analysis finds that a 1-percent increase in a hotel’s online reputation score leads up to a 0.89-percent increase in price as measured by the hotel’s average daily rate (ADR).
    • Similarly this 1-percent increase in reputation also leads to an occupancy increase of up to 0.54 percent. [Tweet This]
    • Finally, this 1-percent reputation improvement leads up to a 1.42-percent increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR). (source)
  • Tripadvisor Properties ranked #1 in their marketing see 11% more directly booked room nights per month versus those ranked #2  [Tweet This] (source)

 

How Social Signals Impact Search Engine Rankings
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout | Images courtesy of kdonovangaddy , mhmarketing and ivanpw

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