Is it time to pay more attention to Facebook?

A new White Paper called Google Ranking Factors UK 2012 from Searchmetrics analyses a massive amount of search data available to the company to provide some fascinating insights into what’s making Google tick at the moment. For almost all of us, Google is the single largest source of visitors to our websites, and therefore our most important marketing tool – possibly even our most important salesman. So it’s worth understanding what makes it work.

The most extraordinary finding is the effect of social media links into pages, particularly from Facebook. While it’s important to get all the normal on-page SEO right, that sort of stuff is rapidly being superseded in importance by Facebook “shares” and “likes”. Only traditional external links to your site seem to have equivalent impact at the moment. If you want to see your pages rank better in the Google results, one quick win may therefore be to encourage as much linking activity from Facebook as possible. Twitter and Google+ links work too, although these might be harder to get results from, it would appear.

It’s so easy to shrug your shoulders at this point and say “I don’t do Facebook” and hope this will all go away. It won’t. Treat social media links like the valuable items they are. Think about it: what if 100 Facebook “shares” and “likes” could get a page of yours well up the Google rankings? That might easily send you hundreds of website visitors in the course of the next few months alone. If that got you just £1,000 worth of business (and let’s face it, that may be rather conservative), you can put a value on those social media links of £10 or more – possibly much more – each. But you’re going to need to get creative. I believe that being active on Facebook and Twitter should be a prerequisite for every marketing manager today, on both a personal basis (to understand what makes the whole thing tick) and – obviously – on a corporate one.

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