Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!

Aug 19, 2011 | 2,002 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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The SES San Francisco, on its third day, saw another session on the social aspects in search. The presentation titled- Social Media Signals In Search-had on the panel-


  • Richard Zwicky, Independent Consultant,


  • Eric Enge, President, Stone Temple Consulting
  • Duane Forrester, Senior Program Manager, Bing

The first one to hold the mic was Eric Enge. He spoke on the mechanics of search and a case study of the same. He started off by rolling out some informative statistics on 'How ranking used to work'-


  • 24% Trust/Authority
  • 22% Link Popularity of Page
  • 20% InBound Anchor Text
  • 15% Key Word Usage
  • 7% Traffic / Click Through Data
  • 6% Social Graph Metrics
  • 5% registration / Hosting


  • 20% Trust / Authority of Domain
  • 18% Trust / Authority of Page
  • 16% Inbound Anchor Text
  • 12% Engagement Signals
  • 11% Key word usage
  • 10% Content
  • 9% Social
  • 4% Registration

He then went on to explain how Bing changes the ranking based on social signals like things that your friends have liked. Also in the case of location focused searches – Bing will leverage the Facebook feed. The reason behind this working is the concept that Bing will show how many people in your network like what content. For example, Search "New York Post" and it will show you how many of your friends have "Liked" articles on that site.

He then went on to say how Google searches are becoming influenced by Facebook likes and Google plus ones. Google leverages G-mail connections.

Hot Tip- Anything that demonstrates interest in your site or content will be used in your ranking.

He elaborated as to how your Twitter Authority is measured and influences your ranking:

  • Number of relevant followers
  • Click Through Rates of links you share by relevant followers
  • Ration of followers to followed
  • Re-Tweeting by relevant followers
  • Age of your Twitter account

He recommended for measuring your influence. He then went on to a case study of a blog that was semi-dormant. Then he wrote a post in May 2011. And made sure that it was Re-Tweeted by an influential user. It now ranks 4th for any key search term- and that too without any promotions.

So, based on this he underlined these requirements for success in social in search. The takeaways:

Good Content
Social Connection
Leverage Important Influencers

The podium then went to the second speaker- Duane Forrester. He spoke on the concept of socializing search. He pointed out the main reason that search moving in the direction of social is Emotion. Emotion is missing in search as it can be very technical. Search has not taken much emotion into consideration before. But times are changing-newer trends are emerging. The key is the trust people have in listening to something from someone they know.

He gave some statistics on people's behavioral patterns:

  • 90% of people seek advice from family and friends before making a decision
  • 80% of people delay making a purchase online before talking to someone

This can be interpreted as –

Hot Tip- Opinion Matters!

Then he went on with his presentation- The Case for Social. Why does your article/blog ranks so higher if it has no back links? It is because search engine trusts your site and social signals.

He pointed out the huge amount of content that was being created. 

image1 Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!

He said that if the number of Tweets in the year 2010 was 25 billion. It is easily imaginable the magnitude of social. He then went on to list the way social and search now merge. It begins with
people sharing. The content they have posted is processed, the information that is in the category of public information, reaches Bing in real time. Bing then processes the content, indexes and then comes ranking annotation -user experience.

image2 Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!

Reputation = More than Followers:

This means that your followers must be more than just that. Users' Attributes are- Friends, Followers, Follows. Where as users' actions, that you must initiate are:
Retweets, Replies, Likes, and Sharing

Facebook user activities Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!

He makes a special note that reciprocal friending is no more beneficial than reciprocal linking. So, the key- genuine followers.

Social Spam Behavior:

Social Spam Behavior Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!

There are communities on these networks that are engaged in spamming. They are easily detectable and you must stay away from them. The parameters of your Quality on social networks is determined by your links. Tweets and Posts = Quality Links

The takeaways from Duane's session- When optimizing your site for search, you invest in these major areas:

  • Quality
  • Trust
  • Popularity
  • Timeliness

He concluded by saying that the three major components of search are- Content-Social and Links. You must give a great amount of thought to how to build better websites. Also keeping these things in mind, you will also make your site safe in the future.

The Q and A session got some further tips from the expert speakers- they said that the best way to work on Facebook and make it easy for people to get what they want is to focus on what is being asked. What do people want to know- your aim should be to provide the same to your visitors. The fact that search engines focus on the speed to the answer, is another reason, why you must be prompt and efficient in handling Facebook fans and their queries.

Hot tip- in social, the idea is to become personally involved. There are huge numbers involved in social, but you should not let simple numbers or size of followers guide you. There is more to it, than just having a million 'LIKES', when the fans never bother to return to your page. The trend is of quality over quantity. You don't need many followers, who aren't even your true audience. You need to build your trust base. And with high quality links, strive to become an authority of sorts.

We have more sessions from SES San Francisco, Day 3 coming up. Keep watching this space.

Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!
4.thumbnail Social Media Signals in Search: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!