These days, two frequently asked question of my agency are, "How does all of this social media content and sharing impact my search engine rankings?" and "Do my social network status updates in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help these rankings?"
The short answer is, yes, your social activity does have an impact on search results—and, more to the point, so does your company's activity. That's true both for personalized search (when you're logged into Google, for example) and for universal search, which covers everyone who is not logged in.
While most users are now accustomed to seeing blog entries in search engine results, you might be less clear on what other social content makes the cut:
Just because search engines index this content, however, doesn't mean that you're going to easily find what kind of results are turning up in other people's searches.
You have to keep a few important search engine criteria in mind:
That last point is important because the search engines now incorporate relationships as a measure of relevancy.
The integration of social content into search signals the future of traditional search engine optimization. You have to move beyond the message on your website alone (such as a local bakery's "We sell fresh cookies" message) and now broadcast it to the world—using social tools, interactions and conversations. ("Hey Facebook friends: You gotta taste the heavenly new rocky road butter brickle cookie recipe we just invented and tell us what you think!")
Bing does a nice job explaining how its social integration works with its social search.
So for those of you running businesses and just tweeting and Facebooking random content, remember this: More and more of what you post on your social networks is going to be spidered by search engines. And being more deliberate about what you're sharing can improve your visibility.
So pass another cookie, please.