Mark Traphagen Hates Your Tweets

Stone Temple pilots us into social media’s impact on SEO

Ok, Mark Traphagen doesn’t really hate your tweets. (Unless you’re still tweeting about planking, in which case we’d all like to have a chat with you. Get in touch with your inner Elsa and let it go, friend.) But he does have a bit of insight into how your tweets — and everyone else’s — may be connected to those sweet, sweet SERPs.

Senior Director of Brand Evangelism for Stone Temple, Mark spoke at State of Search on social, SEO and the effect of one on the other. Does social matter to ranking? Well, it depends.

What Google says

Matt Cutts, go-to guy for Google answers on spam and such, confirmed in 2010 that Google did use Twitter and Facebook as part of ranking pages. But in 2014, the scoop was different. By then, Matt said social signals weren’t a ranking factor.

That latter answer seemingly contradicts a Moz study from 2015 that found social sharing signals correlate with search rank. Or does it?

Say it louder for the folks in the back: Correlation does not imply causation. For example, drowning deaths are correlated with ice cream sales. Does that mean ice cream is deadly? Was your ancient auntie correct when she insisted you should wait an hour after eating before swimming? Should we ban ice cream to save the poor swimmers?

No. People eat more ice cream and swim more in the summer. More swimming tends to mean more opportunities to drown. And sites that get a lot of search traffic tend to be brands that generate or are mentioned in a lot of social posts.

So what’s the answer?

Stone Temple research indicates social posts are treated like any other page in terms of search. But there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Authority: You want that pretty blue check mark, y’all. The higher the authority of the poster, regardless of platform, the more traction.
  • Capacity: All that is indexable is not indexed. Even Google has finite resources. Facebook is about 60% indexed, Twitter only about 3.4%.
  • Google+: Stone Temple found no evidence of your Google Plus being a plus for ranking. #RIPauthorship

Orson Welles’ words of wisdom

Back in the 1970s, Orson Welles found himself shilling for Paul Masson, insisting that some things just take time.

That’s a bit how Google seems to feel about social media. They will index no social before it’s time — and that time just doesn’t appear to be now. With a low confidence in the ability to verify identity of users and a disinclination to rely on third parties for large portions of their rankings, that makes sense.

So why be on social media at all? Mark says businesses should be using social for two things: building their brands and driving qualified traffic. If you’re doing social just to try and wriggle through an SEO loophole, you’re doing it wrong.


Stephanie_StuderStephanie Studer is a writer, editor, cook, and massive nerd who calls Dallas home. A social and content marketer, she’s deeply in love with all that language can do. She tweets at @Editrix_Steph and posts entirely too many pictures of dishes she’s made on Instagram. Don’t ask her about ukuleles or comic books unless you have nothing to do for the next several hours.