As social media becomes increasingly integrated in our lives and our communication, it is also becoming increasingly integrated into Google and Bing/Yahoo’s search algorithms and search results.
There are two factors at play when it comes to social media impacting search results.
1) Search engines are factoring in likes/shares/tweets/+1s into their ranking algorithms. This makes a lot of sense because when a person likes, shares, tweets or +1s a web page, it’s a good indication that they find it valuable. The more people who “like” a page, the more popular it is, and the higher it ought to rank in search results.
2) Personalized search results are becoming more pervasive. Personalized search results are when a search engine shows you different sites in the search results from someone else on the basis of your location, interests, demographics, etc.
Level 1 Impact: You
Social media has the greatest impact on search results when a search engine includes something you personally have “liked” or +1’d in the search results. For example, if you were to go to the OurChurch.Com homepage and like, share and +1 it and then in a day or two search Google or Bing for Church web design, OurChurch.Com will probably show up near the top of the search results.
Level 2 Impact: Your Friends
The impact of social media doesn’t stop there. Google and Bing know who you are connected to on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. So, if one of your friends has liked/shared/tweeted or +1’d a web page, that page will show up a little higher in the search results search engines show you as well.
Level 3: Impact: Everyone
Last, and well also least, social media affects everyone’s search results at least a little bit. All other things being equal a page that’s be liked/shared/tweeted/+1’d thousands of times is going to rank higher for relevant terms than a page that has not, even if you and your connections never touched the page.
So, what should you do about this? Here are 5 suggestions:
1) Put Facebook Like, +1 and Tweet buttons on every page of your website. Without those buttons it’s difficult for people who do like your web pages to endorse or share them.
2) Like, share, tweet and +1 the pages of your website. It will give your pages more prominence in your friends search results.
3) Encourage your friends, family, staff, clients, congregation, the mailman and everyone else who wants to see you succeed to click those social media buttons on your site.
4) Help your friends succeed by liking, sharing, tweeting and +1’ing their web pages.
5) If you like what we’re doing here to help Christian organizations achieve their mission online, we’d love for you to like, share, tweet and +1 pages in our Christian website services site.
Search engines analyze and rank each web page individually, so it’s beneficial to not just click the social media buttons on the homepage but all the pages on a site (though we recommend you do that over time rather than all pages in one setting)
What are you doing to encourage likes, shares, tweets and +1s of the web pages in your site?