A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… Ahem.
It was a time of great upheaval… no, wait, hold on.
Not so long ago,the search giants battled for marketshare. When you wanted to find something, you’d go to your favourite search provider. Your options included Google, Yahoo, MSN, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, and many others.
Google won the search engines wars because they delivered the best results. They could do this because they identified the best signals to measure the quality of a site.
Let’s say I have a web site that I haven’t updated in 8 months, and that has got just 1 link to it from another web site. And let’s say you have a web site that you update daily and that 462 links from other web site to it.
The Site With Most Links Wins
Google thought “Okay, if someone has 462 links to their web site and their competitor has just 1, then the site with 462 links to it is probably a better site.” It makes sense.
If you found a site that gave great info, was entertaining, controversial, whatever – you’d link to it from your web site to tell your readers about it.
So that site is way more likely to be better than the site with just 1 link. So Google ranked it higher in the results.
Then Google looked at other indicators of a better site.
These other factors might include:
- how often the site is update
- number of pages
- the searched words in the title tag and on the page
- what words link to your site
(There are tons of factors Google has considered over the years – check this list out for more.)
So from refining these indicators of a “better” site, Google’s rankings got better and better.
Round About Now It Gets Really Interesting
But round about now it gets really interesting.
And it gets really interesting because links aren’t really a great indicator of a site’s quality anymore.
For starters, every man and his dog focuses their web site marketing on getting tons of links to their site. Thus diluting the significance of links to a site as a reliable indicator of site quality.
Then there’s Facebook.
Facebook is starting to screw with Google’s head big time.
No-One Really Links Anymore
It’s because no-one really links to other sites as much as they used to do back in the old days (“Old days” = Pre Facebook domination).
Instead, we now “Like” an article on Facebook.
We might share it with our Facebook friends. We sure don’t take the time to write a web site blog
So now the best indicators on what’s hot and what’s popular isn’t measured by links. It’s measured by social activity.
That’s activity on Facebook and Twitter.
So social activity should influence search engine (talking Google mostly) rankings.
It should because it’s a good indicator of quality (better thank links anyhow).
There’s research that correlates Facebook ‘shares’ with higher search engine rankings.
But correlation does not imply causation – it would be a fair guess that content that is more likely to get shared on Facebook is also more likely to get links.
Generating content that gets Facebook shares is great but “(probably) will not directly boost your Google rankings (though it may have positive effects that indirectly promote links, tweets and other signals Google may use).” Source is here.
The Point Of All This
This point is that Google has got to change to keep presenting the most relevant results – and that’s because they no longer have access to what are arguably the best signals on quality (people talking about and sharing info about web content).
Facebook Influences Grows In This Way
Facebook is becoming a more important part of online marketing every day.
I see this with some travel/holiday destination clients we have.
Facebook sharing is influencing bookings – after all, if you saw your friends photos and description of an awesome holiday on Facebook, you’re way more likely to consider that same place for your next holiday.
Google is great at “Already known” stuff.
That is, if you know about a product or a service or a holiday destination or whatever, Google is great at giving you loads of info about it when you search for it.
Facebook is great at creating awareness of that product or a service or a holiday destination or whatever in the first place.
That’s the advantage of Facebook.
Get started on Facebook for your business.