Study Shows Social SERP Rankings for Personal Brands Driven by Social Activity
Ryan Buddenhagen, July 17, 2012
Since the launch of Google Search Plus Your World back in January, there have been continuous shifts and developments in the world of search and how social accounts, profiles, and posts appear in the SERPs of major search engines. Google indicated Google+ would be profiled more in the search results for logged-in users and Bing announced several months ago that social media, with a particular focus on Facebook, would be in integrated into their algorithm and show in their SERPs to offer a social dimension to web queries.
Another facet though is personal and corporate brand searches and how social media factors into it. An interested study covered by Search Engine Watch entitled “Social Search Result Rankings for Top 500 Tech Writers” in February that squarely addressed personal brand searches gathering statistics on exactly how often various social media accounts show in SERPS of personal brand searches.
A follow up study was just recently done that offers valuable insight and addressed changes in SERP visibility since February. They found that for personal brand searches…for which they searched 50 of the top Tech writers, the likelihood of Twitter results appearing on the first page of Google increased by 4% to 95% of the time. LinkedIn results increased from 67% to 76%, Facebook jumped by 10% to appearing on the first page 62% of the time, and Google+ increased only 3% to 36% of the time. As a follow on to those stats is the finding that Twitter results appear with the greatest frequency in the 1-3 positions of the SERPs at 62%.
The other side of the study looked at the activity of the writers on their social media accounts to see if there was a correlation between activity level and SERP visibility, and there definitely was. In short, high activity on Twitter experienced by 71% of the writers was widely seen(while 89% of the writers had little or zero activity on Google+) and Twitter is the social platform that was seen the most in the SERPs, and the most in the top 3 spots.
Takeaway for Businesses
Visibility appears to be largely based on activity (sorry to those thinking Google was arbitrarily placing Google+ above other results for such searches) and Twitter has simply dominated. Both personal and company brand should be posting with high frequency on their Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ accounts without sacrificing quality of post content. So for the company representatives and the SEO and social media agencies partnered with these companies, consistency is the key here to sustained relevance and authority…surprise.
The experience of searches for companies should be largely similar to that of personal brand searches. Thus, companies have another reason to prioritize their social media campaigns.
One large caveat is that all the searches that were performed were done while not as a “logged-in” Google user. While logged-in, Google+ results for personal brand searches could be more visible in the SERPs across the board. It is unclear how this will develop further in terms of which platforms will be profiled, if it will remain largely based on social activity, and how it will relate to company brands going forward. The SEO community will be tracking it and there are sure to be more quality studies like this conducted and put out for all to learn from.
For more information about this, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.