As more and more searchers use social media to look for information online, major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are using social data to evaluate websites. Bing in particular is monitoring the number of Facebook, LinkedIn, Klout and Google+ hits that each page gets to help determine whether a website has the authority to rank high on their search engine results page (SERP).
According to Duane Forrester, senior Product Manager at Bing, social media data is being increasingly integrated into the algorithms of web search engines. For Bing, the number of social media hits is used as just one indicator of a site’s trustworthiness, rather than the number of hits from the search engine alone.
Forrester was speaking at March’s SMX West 2014 conference in the session entitled Social Meets Search: Where Are We Now; Where Are We Going? He reiterated that Bing constantly strives to improve its search engine algorithm so that they can return credible SERP rankings that include only reputable websites and that accurately reflect the users’ search criteria.
According to Forrester, following in Google’s giant footsteps, Bing indexes social signals from 2 billion Facebook updates and up to ½ a billion Tweets each day, as well as looks at Google+, LinkedIn and Klout data. Based on the number of hits, Bing may choose to rank a site higher and then monitors the new placing to see how positively users respond.
Whether or not they include social hits in specific search algorithms is up to Bing – as yet there is no automatic tool to include social media data for all sites. But when one site is shared, liked or linked by a large number of users, this gets Bing’s notice and suggests that the domain is authoritative and trustworthy.
Bing Continues to Test its Algorithm
Bing continues to test and update its methodology on a fast-changing, ongoing basis. This means that the formula can be tweaked over a matter of hours, rather than months, as it becomes apparent whether their revised search criteria works effectively or not.
We saw this recently when Bing changed the appearance of their search results screen. Bing used to include on-screen arrows below the title bar that pointed to the faces of searchers’ Facebook contacts and their trending topics. Now, these elements have been moved to one side which leaves more space for search results and Bing has found that the move has not lessened the amount of engagement by users.
Mobile Twitter Searches Rapidly Increase in Numbers
More than three quarters of Twitter users tweet from their mobiles, according to Twitter VP of Engineering, Ruslan Belkin. Belkin said that in 2013 the number of Twitter searches increased by 120%, with the majority of new users searching from their mobile devices. That is a lot of searches when you consider that Twitter claims to have as many as 241 million active users each month.
Belkin also mentioned that Twitter is striving to make its searches more personal so that they accurately target the interests of their users. Their “realgraph” search algorithm takes into account who you interact with, who you follow, and even where you actually are at the time of making the search in order to return SERP rankings that are based on your real time geographical location – which has the additional benefit of boosting the visibility and SERP ranking of nearby small local businesses.
Their @Discover and @MagicRecs applications look to further personalize the Twitter experience by providing information about tweets and followers that are targeted towards subjects that seem likely to interest users but that do not yet feature in their timelines. Astute marketers may be well advised to monitor these two trends – of integrating social media data into search engine algorithms, and of increasing numbers of online searches being conducted via social media sites – in order to maximize the potential of their client’s internet presence. If you’re curious about how your social media profiles and posts can help your online marketing strategies send us a message or give us a quick call at 1-877-947-3351 to talk to one of our specialists.