Google’s Matt Cutts: We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages

matt-cutts-social-signalsGoogle’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, released a video today answering the question, “are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm?” The short answer was no.

Matt said that Google does not give any special treatment to Facebook or Twitter pages. They are in fact, currently, treated like any other page, according to Matt Cutts.

Matt then answered if Google does special crawling or indexing for these sites, such as indexing the number of likes or tweets a specific page has. Matt said Google does not do that right now. Why?

They have at one point and they were blocked. I believe Matt was referring to Google’s real time search deal expiring with Twitter. Matt explained that they put a lot of engineering time into it and then they were blocked and that work and effort was no longer useful. So for Google to put more engineering time into this and then be blocked again, it just doesn’t pay.

Another reason, Google is worried about crawling identity information at one point and then that information changes but Google doesn’t see the update until much later. Having outdated information can be harmful to some people.

However, Matt does add that he does see Google crawling, indexing and understanding more about identities on the web in the long term. He used our Danny Sullivan as an example, when Danny writes a story here, the site is authoritative, so it ranks well. But if Danny posts a comment on a forum or on Twitter, it would be useful for Google to know that an authority posted on a specific site and thus it should have more ranking weight in Google.

While Google doesn’t do this now, we know they are indeed working on a solution for this.

Here is the video:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • RyanMJones

    Hey, I know the guy that asked that question!

    I’m glad Matt finally came out and made this more clear. There was a lot of confusion about this in the space. I’m also glad he tackled the correlation example.

  • Colin Guidi

    Agreed. The correlation vs causation piece was nice, especially after Dr. Petes post on Moz touching on the same subject.

  • http://www.tom-elliott.net/ Tom Elliott

    So Google treat Twitter, Facebook pages etc just like other web pages (providing they can be crawled). Great! So I guess that means that some social signals still have an effect. e.g. a link tweeted by person A with 10,000 followers will have more impact than person B with 10 followers as person A’s twitter page will have more inbound links, authority etc… right? :)

  • http://www.tom-elliott.net/ Tom Elliott

    So Google treat Twitter, Facebook pages etc just like other web pages (providing they can be crawled). Great! So I guess that means that some social signals still have an effect. e.g. a link tweeted by person A with 10,000 followers will have more impact than person B with 10 followers as person A’s twitter page will have more inbound links, authority etc… right? :)

  • http://www.appbattleground.com/ Shane K.

    This almost sounds like a subtle way to push the importance of Google+ over the other social networks. I haven’t had a chance to watch the video yet, but it doesn’t sound like he mentioned G+.

    From things I have seen, there does appear to be a ranking lift associated with G+ shares.

    Has anyone seen any case studies around the impact of FB/Twitter shares on sites/pages with very few inbound links?

  • Thomas

    FB? there is more to the internetz than FB lol. followers are on twitter… friends are on FB. And recent studies show FB will loose 80% of their user base by 2017. What are you going to do then. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/22/facebook-princeton-researchers-infectious-disease

  • Guest

    I’m not on Facebook and don’t care about it.
    Shane K. asked to share some info, I did.

  • Gareth Mailer

    There was one on Moz ages ago, however it was orientated around RTs. Eric Enge also recently tested the direct impact of G+ on SE rankings. He came to a similar conclusion.

    The whole “does social impact on organic visibility” thing drags on and on, however more than anything I would focus my time and efforts on building a reputation through social channels and leveraging that reputation to, indirectly, influence organic search.

  • John Wang

    what about Google Plus pages?

  • http://www.michaelmerritt.org/ Michael Merritt

    Great. Now we can stop hearing from some SEOs about how Facebook will improve SEO. Or not…

  • http://www.michaelmerritt.org/ Michael Merritt

    I know about the hypothesized inclusion of visitors stats in Google’s algo. Even I’ve recently begun to highly suspect that this is the case.

    I just mean that there are a bunch of SEOs who tout Facebook as a tactic to use to improve SEO, when it’s been long known it doesn’t.

  • http://blog.francoismathieu.ca/ Francois Mathieu

    “For example a wife had blocked an abusive husband or something like that.”

    Weirdest web crawling example.

  • jhoodbiz

    The times they are a changin’. Video from 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofhwPC-5Ub4

  • Sumant

    well a great eye opener indeed. I always had a thought that Google indexes social shares first.. even experienced a while the same. what next guys …. tell the insight

  • http://www.fotballmoro.no Fotballmoro.no

    I did a simple test on this- I posted a receipe using a dish with low competition on the keywords. After a while a used a forum to help me get social-shares. In my experience it did have an effect. You can read about it and see the share-numbers SERP result etc here-its in Norwegian but I think google translate should make it understandable:
    http://manneblogg.no/sosiale-medier-pavirker-serp/

    G+ is included here, it would have beein interesting to try without G+….

  • http://www.swayamdas.com/ Swayam Das

    Hmm.. Interesting! So what works? Google Plus? ;-) :-)

  • vseo

    Always, Google plus is Google Toy, right? ;)

  • http://www.swayamdas.com/ Swayam Das

    :-)

  • http://www.examtime.com/ Philip

    I know the question didn’t ask it, but Matt could have mentioned Google+ no? Social Media and all that…

  • Chris Gedge

    At last the crap that flies about all the SEO blogs about social helping organic can finally be debunked. Been saying this for years.

  • http://www.nathanielbailey.co.uk/ Nathaniel Bailey

    Is it just me or does there seem to be a lot of ‘we don’t use this, we don’t use that’ from google lately!?

    Its like saying we don’t use water to wash, we don’t use an internet connection to surf the web, we don’t use google to search…

    Really, what’s next?! Is google going to tell use that they manually pick every site that ranks on the first page and the algo stop using all signals years ago lol

  • markwoodcock

    I’m inclined to agree Shane; indexing being blocked isn’t
    exactly an issue with Google+

  • http://www.CheesyCorporateLingo.com/ Patrick Reinhart

    Very interesting and I think its great that Mr Cutts clarified this for everybody. So basically while tweets and likes and shares don’t necessarily attribute to higher rankings, they are good indicators that the content is going to be linked to and therefore authoritative. Say that five times fast.

  • http://www.CheesyCorporateLingo.com/ Patrick Reinhart

    Very interesting and I think its great that Mr Cutts clarified this for everybody. So basically while tweets and likes and shares don’t necessarily attribute to higher rankings, they are good indicators that the content is going to be linked to and therefore authoritative. Say that five times fast.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    So maybe Google doesn’t count how many Likes/tweets a piece of content gets, but those social shares can definitely drive a ton of traffic to your site and generate a few natural links in time, which can impact how well that content does in the SERPs. I have to imagine that Google can’t afford to ignore Facebook and Twitter sharing for long when evaluating the worth of a piece of content since more and more people consume and share information on social media.

  • DigitalDionne

    I actually presumed that was his way of trying to reinforce that they’re reaaally concerned with privacy.

  • DigitalDionne

    Not just you. I literally just tweeted that he’s soon going to tell us there IS no Internet…

  • Guest

    Sorry if this double posts – but no, it’s not just you. I just tweeted that he’s going to tell us next week that there IS no Internet…

  • http://www.nathanielbailey.co.uk/ Nathaniel Bailey

    It’s likely to be another poor attempt of google trying to get more people to use G+ over FB and Twitter, which will not happen IMO.

    Don’t get me wrong, G+ has its place and I use it quit a bit to follow work related information, but FB and twitter are the top social networks for the general public and some people live on them, so google saying they aren’t used as signals is rubbish and plenty of people have done tests etc to show that these social networks can help and are a great marketing tactic when used correctly.

  • http://www.rankinstyle.com/ Jacques Bouchard

    Google Plus is great for SEO, but good luck bringing in traffic through what you share there.

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Belinda Summers

    You’re totally right. This will leverage the usage of Google plus and for me it isn’t a bad idea at all. G+ has been my side kick when it comes to social media marketing and SEO.

  • http://www.sovainfotech.com/ Sova Infotech

    Relieved that Google cares little about the tweets or Facebook likes to rank pages. So the likes or tweets only have a role to play in encouraging interaction. Even if Google does not consider the social media platforms for ranking websites, these platforms seem to play a role in enhancement of user interaction that in turn leads to better sell.

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