We previously tested the effects of Facebook links in rankings. Our previous test has showed that a link from a Facebook post on its own has no effect on rank.
However, the post used in the test had no likes, comments, shares, or any engagement. So the results begged the question – what happens when we add engagement to the post?
For this test, 5 pages were set up with 400 words and 2% keyword density. We created 5 identical pages for each test so we could test 5 different variables.
We linked the various posts to the pages without likes/shares, and then over the following days, acquired the likes and shares.
Before the Facebook posts had been liked/shared, all test pages were indexing. After various Facebook posts were like/shared the results really changed. The interesting thing was that, they did not change in the same way on each of the test.
There were three consistent findings across both tests.
- Like/shares on the posts reduced the amount of pages being indexed by Google.
- Out of the pages that remained indexed, pages with likes/shares outranked the pages without.
- In both cases, posts with at least some shares ranked the highest, but not necessarily with some likes.
We are 100% confident to conclude that pages with links from Facebook posts with shares and likes (but especially shares), will outrank identical pages without.
Two big takeaways from this test are:
- You can increase the value of a Facebook link via social engagement.
- You need shares.
These results are exciting as we were not anticipating any ranking movements based on engagement. You see correlational studies where a high number of links and shares seem to be associated with higher rankings.
Then you hear pros tell you that Google can’t ready likes and shares, and that you are just wasting your time and effort.
What is also interesting from this test are the results from the first test showing that a link on its own has no value.
Many SEO programs will suggest that you set-up auto-posting from your blog to your social media accounts.
We know that, by itself, it is a waste of time. Other programs will talk about getting engagement on your posts but they are not very specific about what you really need.
In our testing, it‘s looking like we can turn a no value Facebook link into a good link through social engagement. So long as there is at least one share on the post, you’re good.
Clint’s Ideas On This Test
In this video, Clint talks about this test and his insights on social media links.
This is Test Number 22. Does a Page with a Link from a Facebook Post with Likes & Shares Outrank a Page Without?
Does social media shares, likes, or bookmarks, and links affect the PageRank? And then there’s a lot of talk about whether social media actually has an effect or not.
Back when this test was done in 2016, it was the big social media posts don’t work… you don’t need to do those… don’t do social media, it’s just creating spam… don’t build links with social media, you’re making spam.
And there was some truth to that. A lot of people on Facebook actually found me because I was sharing my web pages on Facebook pages quite a lot. Like 50 to 60 pages from Facebook would link to each and every one of my posts for quite some time.
I was having really good success with that. Tested with groups, but didn’t have so much success.
But a lot of the group stuff is where all this…Facebook is not helping… you don’t need social media… social media is not helping your SEO. People were posing in groups and then not getting any results from it.
You have to understand what is crawled and what’s not in Facebook by Google.
As a general rule, Facebook pages are indexed and Facebook profiles are indexed and crawled by Google.
However, Facebook groups are not. They may be crawled. We don’t know. We don’t have the crawled logs but they’re not indexed.
They’re not used as a source of links for ranking as far as I can tell. And that’s just based on sharing articles into 200-300 groups at a time. And absolutely saw nothing in regards to results.
That could be changed now because of the crawling versus indexing. And what is passing juice versus what not. We know that deindex links still pass ranking power.
But we don’t know if Google’s even crawling Facebook groups. My inclination is to say that they’re not just because there’s so much stuff in there. Why would they bother?
Versus a Facebook page, which is typically the front face of a company. It makes sense for them to crawl that. They want to talk about what the company is talking about, etc and build associations. And it also makes sense that a Facebook profile is the same way associating with people etc.
The result is that Facebook shares actually do help to beat a page without it.
Are they very powerful? Probably not. You’re not going to rank a whole lot with Facebook shares.
There might be some things that we need to retest it here.
One is do the shares still work? I’m inclined to think that they do.
And two, can we actually use the shares to build as tiers?
Let’s say that you make a money page and you share your money page on your profile. So now that is one link. When other people share, it doesn’t go like this.
You’re not sharing the post directly. It’ll show the post in there. So if I have some text and then my link. I then click on it and it’ll go to this inside of Facebook. However, for link purposes, it’s actually going to this money page. So my my article is getting linked to you with that snippet preview.
And let’s say that two people do that. I’ve created two backlinks.
Ideally, this would be tier one, and this would be tier two. But what it really is these are now both tier one links.
This Facebook page and profile is linking to this. And this Facebook page profile is linking to this.
We want to test is can I use these to linked to with other sources and pass juice through Facebook to boost this up? What would that do for us?
Well, one, we have Facebook pages and posts that are on a nice high quality domain that are increasing our ranking. Provided that these people are sharing and they actually have a following. And you might actually be getting traffic from those.
I know that when I post occasionally on Facebook, I get some traffic. And if you compile that and find 10 people that want to work with you, you share the posting, you’ll get some traffic.
Facebook is getting all these backlinks and that juice is passing through the links. In theory, the juice will pass through these links and go to your money page.
Obviously, they’ll get reduced a little bit, but you get the idea. These tier two links will boost the tier one links making them more valuable, which increases the page rank.
We want to see if that works.
If it does, theoretically, you can get 10 friends that have a decent following that are in the same market. And they don’t mind sharing your stuff. And you could share each other’s stuff and then build links to all 10 of those shares.
Or you could actually share to 10 different Facebook pages and build links and win.
That’s something that would be really interesting to test in relation to shares.
Likes, however, I think a little bit different. And you see that we didn’t actually get any benefit whatsoever from likes. And likes are essentially just someone voting and saying yes, this page is good or not.
Those likes don’t increase the value of the page inside of Facebook. They don’t increase the value of the page inside of Google. There’s no links built to them. They’re just saying that they like it.
Which is why I don’t think it had any effect as regards the test.
It is not building more links, which is what sharing is doing is actually building more links.
It’s a great test. A very interesting test that will be born out of this one.
I think they’re still relevant today. There’s also other sites we can test. We could try this out some more with Twitter, Reddit and Stumble Upon, if it is still around. That used to be a good one.
I would check it out, find some good high quality social sites that your market is already on and start building some tiers and see what happens.
Surprised with this test? Well, we have more surprises in store for you. Check out our test articles.