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by Oliver Ewbank on 22nd June 2011
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’.
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.
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.