Do Facebook Shares Help with Google Ranking?  A Case Study.

There are loads of junk fiverr gigs out there offering gazillions of facebook shares.  Now we all know that facebook can bring traffic, but the question here is nothing to do with the traffic you get directly from facebook, what I am bothered about is whether or not getting a load of shares onto facebook actually changes your position in the google serps.

There are a couple of considerations here, or at least things to think through.

One is - what do I mean for "changes your position"?

Shares or Likes effect ranking.

Well typically, we would target a keyphrase, but with a facebook share, where would this phrase come from? The facebook open graph (OG) tags, the page title, the text the sharing user enters? Whatever - in other words how would google pass anchor relevance from a social share on FB in a similar way that a href link uses the anchor text?  What can we monitor to check influence?

The next thing to think about, is having established that we have absolutely zero idea (and I doubt any of the guru idiots out there do either) what the answer to the above is, what are our goals?

Well after thinking about this for quite some time, I can only conclude that what I am looking to prove either way, is whether or not my serp position improves or not for its existing target phrases following shares.  This would be seen by me as some kind of a ranking increase based on additional trust or authority attained from the shares and would generally apply across the website as a whole for its various relevant phrases OR it may just apply on the page which is actually shared.

The truth is that I haven't ever met anyone who knows the answer to these thoughts and questions, and I have never seen a case study for this either.

I am also going to pick a bit here aswell.  Half the garbage I read doesn't even seem to appreciate the difference between a like and a share - so what I will be looking at is as follows..........

A FACEBOOK SHARE BUTTON ON THIS WEBPAGE WHICH INVOKES A SHARE DIALOG, READS THE FB OG TAGS, PUTS THE DATA INTO THE DIALOG FOR THE USER DOING THE SHARING AND THEN POSTS THE DATA TO THE FACEBOOK USERS TIMELINE.

I am NOT looking into shares which are performed internally to FB from peoples news feeds or timelines - and these may or may not occur in the background within FB following the initial hitting on the test domains button on the domains webpage.  It is enough to know that the button has been clicked when not on the social media platform.

Heres the good bit - THIS VERY PAGE will be used for this case study - and below is the button - so if you are reading this and want to contribute to the answer, click the facebook share button and check out the results.

This is not some gimmicky stupid way of trying to get shares (because to be quite honest I already don't believe they help at all - I just want to prove that sharing doesn't work!!!) - as a reader you will want an answer you can trust.  Thats the whole point of IMJourney.com

 

23/Oct/2015

Ok - this is the launch date for this project.  You may notice if you are in on this early that there is no share button above.  The reason for this is that I am in the process of establishing what I call the Settled Entry Point in google.  This is the location within the serp for a given phrase (a phrase which I will choose (and indeed can ONLY choose) to monitor once this page is indexed) where the newly indexed page will be placed after its initial crawl and then a time delay whilst it settles. 

I will implement the share code once this page has achieved a settled place.  If I placed the share code before the page had settled and people shared it - I would NEVER EVER KNOW if the shares helped it get there or not.   So, the settling in stage is a multi-phase process.

a) Wait for page to be indexed.
b) Once cache is 100% complete for this page - insert share code.
c) Wait for movement for 1 week after this page with the share code shows in cache.
d) Record position
e) The case study begins.......

02/Nov/2015

The page is indexed now and seems fine at position of 5 for a term.  Today I have added the share code.  The serp is 260,000 and the term is 10 words long - remember - it is simply movement we are after.  Restricting the experiments to competetive terms may not yeild a true result - as the factor (sharing) may not be strong enough to cause movement on competetive phrases within this test - but should be more than strong enough to cause movement where there is no competition.

 

Waiting for the share button to be cached - also added a link to the root of this site - so need to get that out of the way and indexed.

21/Nov/2015

The page has now had 20 shares - most of which came in a flurry around 10 days ago.  The site has now fallen from its starting position of 5, to position 7. 

Notice above that I mentioned "shares onto facebook" - this is important - because this is potentially the action we are trying to measure.  Conceptually and physically - what I mean - is that I am posting shares directly from a website into a users timeline using a browser.  This is important because as far as I am aware google can see this action and associate it directly with the domain.  With a share within facebook - the user is sharing the post - NOT JUST THE WEB PAGE - even though the page is a part of the post.  This is technically a different act, and any programming going on to establish the need for an increase in a serp position may or may not consider a Facebook internal share of a post as relevant or strong a signal as a direct website share. 

For example, the person doing the inital share from the domain may have put some very interesting text on the post which is not present on the originating website - such as a comment or an indicator of interest.  Subsequent shares within FB may only be occuring as a result of the comment rather than the actual site content - and are separate from the website's content - thus not directly attributable to the site and in my view - the sites google serp ranking.  Of course, this is speculative, but on the whole - for this experiment - we need as many shares externally as possible.  This is just thinking outloud really.
 

Final word on this case study.

Anyone telling you that Facebook shares, as described above, will help with your google rankings must be treated with caution unless they can absolutely strictly prove otherwise with a case study or multiple examples whereby the only influencing factor was sharing.

Our page FELL during the share process - only slightly - and probably unrelated to the shares - but it has fallen - the evidence is present and it certainly did not rise.

There are arguments that shares DO help with rankings, and conversions (a high share count also adds confidence and trust in the eyes of users who don't know any better) - but these tend towards being traffic related (IE google likes to see traffic from another source).  However shares themselves with no or very little site interaction from the user have not appeared to help at all.

Do not waste your time trying to get shares unless those viewing your page are going to surf around your site - and come back later aswell.

CASE CLOSED.

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If you're looking to find out how tough internet marketing REALLY is - follow me on my IMJourney with actual case studies.

My name is Martin Swift, I have around 18 years of IM and SEO experience full time, am a computer programmer with around 25 years  programming experience in languages such as C, PHP, VB, HTML etc.

I've used or developed HUNDREDS of websites from ecommerce carts, to doorways in the old days, to squeeze pages and run of the mill day to day information sites and blogs.

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