Matt Cutts address if there is influence on SEO from Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Specifically, the question was, “Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm? How much do they matter?”
While many people would assume that things like the number of likes or retweets a particular page or post gets, the bigger the impact is going to be for SEO, that is apparently incorrect. Cutts said, “Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our index.” He went on to say, however, that “As far as doing special or specific work to sort of say you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook, to the best of my knowledge, we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithm.”
He went on to explain why these types of signals are not directly used for determining where pages will be ranked. The first problem he discussed was the fact that in the past some social media sites have prevented Google from crawling and indexing their data for a period of time. Google can’t factor in things that they can’t crawl, and they can’t be at the mercy of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for any significant part of their ranking.
In addition, since things are changing so quickly on these types of sites, they don’t want to risk publishing data to groups that it should not be published too. The example Cutts gave involved crawling Facebook at one moment when a husband and wife are still ‘married’ for their status. This status could change due to abuse, but Google may not update their identity records until they crawl again, so some incorrect information would be made available to people who should not get it.
He also touched on the fact that while there are often sites that have lots of likes, and rank well in Google, that is coloration, not causation. In many cases a great site will get a lot of links, plus a lot of likes, so it may seem like one is causing the other, but in reality it is the high quality page that is generating both the links (and ranking), and the likes or retweets.