The Social Arena

Coup de Grace: facebook-like-iconvs. red-google-plus-button


As social signals continue carrying more weight in SERPs, optimization strategists must reconsider which social channels are most valuable. Basically, how do we want to divide our time investment? – focus on the tweets, the likes, the stumbling, the pins, or the plus?

Searchmetrics just released their 2013 SEO Ranking Factors correlation report, providing invaluable information about rank correlation. The primary factors consisted of majorly social signals. Seven out of the top ten ranking factors were social. Here they are, ordered by most important:

  1. Google +1
  2. Facebook Shares
  3. Number of Backlinks
  4. Facebook Total
  5. Facebook Comments
  6. Facebook Likes
  7. Pinterest
  8. Tweets
  9. % Backlinks rel=nofollow
  10. SEO visibility of backlinking URL

As you can see,  red-google-plus-button has found itself on top; however, Facebook makes up nearly half of the social signals on the list. That being said, the factor “Facebook total” is an aggregate of all Facebook factors, indicating comments+likes+shares is still less than G-plus.

According to Searchmetrics, “Google+ will overtake Facebook at the beginning of 2016”. While this is definitely a sweeping statement, they had some grounding to enforce it. Google Plus has seen continual annual growth, a socially staggering difference when compared to Facebook.

Percentage growth: Jan 2011 – March 2013

Google Plus:  788%  (2.03 billion)

Facebook: 202% (29.66 billion)

Likes vs. Pluses:  Searchmetrics projections for Feb 2016

Google:  1.1 trillion

Facebook:  850 billion

War or Peace?

The social arena is a hot and fast-paced place to be. Are we going to see a dramatic shift to Google Plus over the next few years? I think not; however, with Google authorship integrations and the plus gaining more weight, it’s surely going to become a primary goal for any SEO strategy.

Social sustainability is another factor to consider. Facebook has undeniably become tainted with ads – granted, they’re most times useful and smart. While it’s hard to imagine a world without Facebook, it does seem realistic to imagine them “capping” out their maximum user-potential in the near future, or even deterring a portion of its user-base. On the other hand, Google+ doesn’t need the ad-fuel to accelerate. In fact, their lack of ads may be exactly what bored Facebook users lean towards.

A couple weeks ago, Malcom Simmonds over at Heymalc posted his thoughts on the matter – definitely worth checking out!


As a whole, the social current is strong. Focusing on shareable content is key to pulling in social capital. Similar to the morals of many internet marketing articles, creating excellent, honest, interesting, and real content will always trump shortcuts and sneaky practices.

Each social channel has its own norms and best practices. With that in mind, gaining social capital is clutch to any optimization strategy. Learning the norms and taking time to become “experienced” in each social arena will keep optimization campaigns sustainable.

Here are some benchmark goals for your strategies:

Social Benchmark Goals

For all future content creators, here are some totals to benchmark, keeping you up to speed with top rankers.

facebook-like-iconTotal: Aim for 1000 – 3000 to be on par with top 5 Google positions.

red-google-plus-button Total: Aim for 40 – 200 to be on par with top 5 Google positions.

twitter_newbird_blue Total: Aim for an average of 80 – 350 to be on par with top 5 Google positions.

pinterest_icon Total: Aim for an average of 20 – 90 to be on par with top 5 Google positions.



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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

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