Social Networking Sites Rank in Real Time on Google

By HTMLGoodies Staff

As many developers and end users already know, especially search engine optimization (SEO) pros, Google search now features an option known as "real time search". Search results that use that option include updates from social networking sites including Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.

These real time search results usually show up in the top rankings for the keyword or phrase that is searched, making them prime rankings, and SEO specialists are digging deep to learn the secrets that get those results to the top of the listings.

The real gold is in the details, and those details are comprised of links. Not just any links, but links from sites or users that have a valued reputation, similar to Google's PageRank technology. Google describes PageRank, a term they have trademarked, as a search technology that "relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important'."

With social networking sites and real time search, Google uses that same concept, taken a bit more literally. It looks for a social networking member's friends, followers and fans. As established members follow (link to) other members, the value of that "link" is taken into account by Google's ranking engine, which leads to the linked site being listed higher in the search engine's results pages.

Google also measures, conversely, the number of hashtags that are used on social networking pages. According to the Twitter Fan Wiki, hashtags are a "community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They're like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag." Since hashtags tend to increase the popularity of a Twitter "trend", it can attract a lot of tweets, many of them "spam" or "junk" tweets. As such, Google has taken this into account when ranking sites by carefully looking at tweets that utilize hashtags.

The bottom line is still the same as it has always been. Judicious use of keywords in titles, keywords in links and keywords in content, keywords in usernames, especially in unique, fresh content, tend to rank higher than those without those quality keywords. Put that together with fast loading pages, linkbacks from other sites, and combine that into your social networking practices and your pages will likely tend to rank higher in Google's results.

Nuff said.

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