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How Facebook Likes Affect SEO

Oliver Ewbank

by Oliver Ewbank on 22nd June 2011

Facebook Likes will be considered in search engine algorithms, but rankings are still dominated by link bias.

A question which often pops up in our industry is ‘Do Facebook Likes affect SEO?’ The short answer is yes. However, the more appropriate question should be ‘How much of an influence do Facebook Likes have on SEO?’ This post will help explain the influence of Facebook Likes and how to include this approach in your search marketing strategy.

So are ‘Likes’ really the new ‘Links’? No, but they certainly have a part to play in influencing the SERPS. Both Google and Bing have admitted that they use ‘social signals’ to help rank search results. Google also has a Beta test version of social search under its Labs tools that signals which social media outlet it has pulled results from.

With internet users using the Facebook ‘Like’ feature to share and discuss new favourite websites and posts it would be foolish for a search engine to ignore the popularity signals given off by this source. In some cases we have seen a Facebook page outrank an official web page. This in itself shows the authority Google is giving to a Facebook page with a large amount of ‘Likes’.

Facebook Page Ranking Higher Than Official Site

 

So should you be more proactive with your Facebook page to help your search results? No, you should be more proactive with your Facebook page to promote your website. It’s important you have a strategy in place to push your content and make it more shareable. A blog which populates your Facebook page is an excellent way to grow ‘Likes’.

It is also worth being proactive in your industry. For example, if you sell football shirts try ‘Liking’ appropriate pages from within the industry. Proactive ‘non spammy’ comments will help you navigate new Facebook fans. Linking your Twitter and YouTube pages will also make sure you have a constant loop of activity to keep current fans sharing your new content.

The knock on effect will be a list of fans which you can regularly communicate with. You will also have the added benefit of giving off popularity signals (and citations) should Google draw on this information as a ranking factor.

Facebook Likes may be creeping into the Google algorithm but all this reinforces is the need to have a blended approach to search marketing.  This doesn’t mean you should down tools and focus all your efforts on your Facebook page.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – good unique content and a strong link profile are still the foundations for a profitable ranking. Your social media marketing should work almost parallel to traditional SEO practices.

Oliver Ewbank

Oliver Ewbank

Working in new media for over 8 years, Oliver Ewbank has worked for a range of brands including eBay and SportBusiness.com on SEO, PPC and Social Media Management. He has won awards for his SEO work and been featured in a number of publications, including Virgin online.

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6 Comments

  • sebastian rice 7th February 2012

    After reading this article it wetted my appetite for more, I was looking for real proof that likes, tweets, +1s etc help seo rankings, i came across a very indepth case study of the process, you can find it here: http://websitetrafficreport.net/do-facebook-likes-tweets-affect-seo-rankings.php

    great post, will be back for more

    Reply to this comment

  • NSkonzole 16th July 2012

    Great article man!

    Reply to this comment

  • Joshua Lachkovic 16th October 2012

    The value of a social signal is something I’ve discussed a lot in certain circles recently, but there’s something that I’ve discovered recently that I think is going to be very negative for Facebook in social signal terms.

    Following a little experiment I did (http://interactive.hotwirepr.com/blog_global/industry/beware-the-seo-value-of-a-facebook-like.html) I found that you can very easily artifically inflate the number of Facebook Likes you have, as long as you don’t mind a little bit of spamming, which we all know many blackhats won’t mind doing at all.

    Because you can gain a Like by sending a DM on Facebook with a link, it completely undermines the currency of the metric and frankly, I think is another sting in the battle between Facebook and Google.

    Enjoy the blog in general, so always looking forward to hearing your opinions on this.

    Reply to this comment

  • Oliver Ewbank

    Oliver Ewbank 16th October 2012

    Hi Joshua,

    Thank you for your comment.

    You can inflate the number of Facebook Likes you have but to give off true social signals you will need to push good content which is shared through the users.

    There is no short cut to creating good useful content so I think Facebook can still be a contributing ranking factor.

    Reply to this comment

    • Joshua Lachkovic 16th October 2012

      Entirely agreed.

      I suppose I just meant that it’s unlike Google to leave open a legitimate signal that can also be very easily defrauded.

      Reply to this comment

  • Oliver Ewbank

    Oliver Ewbank 16th October 2012

    Lets hope so buying likes would be worse than buying links!

    Reply to this comment

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