The Impact of Social Signals on B2B Search Engine Optimization

This week Search Engine Land published an article highlighting Danny Sullivan’s interviews with Bing and Google on how they use social data from Twitter and Facebook.

Among the most important takeaways, links shared through Twitter and Facebook can have a positive impact in search engine optimization. The authority of a Twitter profile can be calculated and factored into this process and links can be weighted differently as a result. Both Bing and Google will also factor public Facebook data (links shared) in their ranking algorithms.

Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz provides additional analysis and a summary of his opinions on the impact of Author/Social Authority in SEO.

From Fishkin:
Over time, hopefully we’ll discover more about the impact of social sharing on web rankings and how we can best combine SEO + social media marketing.

For B2B marketers, this represents further support to the recommendation that an investment in social media visibility – particularly through Twitter and potentially with Facebook – needs to be developed.

What are the first steps in the process? Here are some suggestions:

  • Establish social media quality indicators and share functionality on all of your key website assets. We use the Tweetmeme button, Facebook “Like” plugins, and will look to increase the visibility of social sharing options on blog posts and news items.
  • If you have not already, put a plan in place for increasing the quality of your company or key individual profiles on Twitter. This includes identifying the authority profiles in your industry or network, establishing a mechanism for discovering and sharing valuable links, and building a communication strategy designed to improve your authority by becoming an invaluable source of information.
  • Even if Facebook does not seem to be a viable place to market the B2B organization, maintain assets there, such as a Facebook Fan Page or Group, and provide ways for others to easily share and “Like” information your company provides.
  • Longer-Term: Investing in the development of ongoing content strategies will become paramount. Social sharing feeds off of newly discovered and created content. In Sullivan’s interview, Google indicates social sharing can specifically be a signal for news rankings. We’ve been recommending news feeds as a viable strategy for increasing SEO visibility for several years now.

B2B marketers lagging in adopting Twitter and Facebook now have new reasons to take them into consideration. Link building is always a challenge for the B2B organization. The development of an authoritative Twitter profile or Facebook presence may help alleviate this challenge.

Will results be immediately measurable? Unlikely. Does traffic from organic search tend to be of a higher quality than other channels for B2B organizations? Most likely.

If your organization emphasizes search engine optimization as a primary internet marketing strategy, you may have just gained another set of tools for building out your SEO strategy.

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