I recently came across an SEOMoz study that looked to see what impact, if any social media has on search engine rank. The results surprised me. The number of Facebook comments/likes/shares you get seem to directly impact your Google rank.
The study looked at results from 10,000 Google searches and compared the top 30 results to see what they had in common vs. the low ranking sites. The common denominator? Over 60 percent of the high ranking sites had Facebook comments/likes/shares!
We wanted to see whether there was any evidence of this effect within our own client base. So we looked across 2000 clients and pulled out those who had a similar number of listings and client reviews. We then compared the search engine ranking for those who used Facebook vs. those who didn't.
We found great evidence to corroborate the SEOMoz study. Let me show you a prime example:
Here are snippets of wall posts from the Facebook page of our client Lori Fleming. You notice our application automatically shares into Facebook a status update about every new listing – announced when it first hits the market, then also when the price changes. She also shares updates immediately when she gets a new review from a client.
But notice how she socializes the news (see the picture below). The agent ‘liked’ her own listing update. This ‘like’ broadcast the news to her 145 Facebook fans. It gave them a quick ‘heads up’ that there was a recent price change.
Notice then that Zak, one of her fans, commented on the same post. When Zak does this, it broadcasts his comment, along with the agent’s original post to all of the agent’s fans AND Zak’s Facebook friends. Zak just sent a broadcast about this agent to his 130 friends. The two likes on the past client reviews (from the earlier picture above) just promoted Lori's service history to a few hundred more people.
What seems to be happening is that these ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ are really links saying “hey, I like this information and think it’s important. Go check it out.” This is a social indicator that's now factoring into Google's algorithm.
What kind of content gets likes/shares/comments?
To get social interactivity you want to promote things that are heartfelt, touching and warm - or are about timely, bargain-hunter information. Listings and past client reviews are perfect content sources. You just need to be diligent about sharing your content properly.
For example, if you are making status updates about a listing be sure to put up individual property pages inside Facebook. When you create your wall posts you want to give fans the ability to see what you've posted about without clicking out of Facebook. People in Facebook don't want to click out. The goal is comments, likes & shares - we don't want to lose them.
So what has this activity done for our customer's search engine ranking? See below:
Search phrase Google Rank Position
top sunset utah real estate agent #1, #2, #4, #9
top sunset utah realtor #1, #2, #5, #6
sunset utah real estate reviews #1, #6
sunset utah realtor reviews #9, #10
lori fleming realtor reviews #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7, #8
recommend sunset utah realtor #3, #4, #8
recommend sunset utah real estate agent #1, #2, #7, #10
utah real estate agent reviews #6, #7
The agents who didn't use Facebook had just a few appearances in Google, mostly just for their own personal name.
If you've struggled with search engine optimization or worry about the lack of leads from the Web, get going with Facebook immediately. It's really not that difficult to stimulate likes/comments/shares. Just do it right!