SEOmoz published their annual report called ‘2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors’. The report demonstrates the correlation between better search engine ranking and Facebook shares. The correlation hasn’t been put up flatly though. The way the entire matter has been dealt by SEOmoz, there raised the philosophical segregation between correlation and causation.
If it’s only a coincidence that more Facebook share means better placement in Google’s search result, then marketers don’t have much to add. But, if there’s a causal relation, it would be completely different. Google however, made it clear that they don’t consider Facebook shares at all. SEOmoz also, at the end, failed to construe that there’s a definitive relation between these two. They just pointed at the correlation by quoting some facts and figures.
Of all the social media based factors to judge the ranking of a website, Facebook shares scored highest. Whatever influence those social media related factors may have had on search engine ranking, it must have been taking place for a considerable period of time, which doesn’t hold in case of mere correlations, or to be better, coincidences. So, the correlation has to have a solid base. A plausible explanation could be that Google values quality contents and Facebook shares are mostly qualitatively rich contents. But even if it’s so, what about the technicalities? Quality of content doesn’t assure its technically fertile for better search engine ranking.
In my opinion, this question is difficult to answer. One thing is certain though. If content flows through social networks, particularly through Facebook, it’s expected to be qualitatively sound. From a marketer’s point of view, it’s essential to study those contents find out what’s mostly appealing about them or in other words, what concrete factors contribute to quality, since quality itself is an abstract idea. If any such thing is found, the next step would be to systematically apply that to contents so that they get better search engine ranking.
Having said all these, I must add that these are all speculations and we just have surface knowledge at present. But hopefully, a closer study will coin more insightful and more conclusive findings in future.