Matt Cutts, a Google software gngineer, confirmed Twitter and Facebook data is used to a certain degree to calculate ranking for pages in search engine results, most commonly, Realtime Searches.
The information is used to analyze information such as author and creator reputations, authority, and overall status.
In a statement provided by Cutts, on the Google Webmaster Central Channel, as of December 2010, "We do use Twitter and Facebook links in ranking as we always have in our web search rankings, but in addition we're also trying to figure out a little bit about the reputation of an author or creator on Twitter or Facebook."
Depending on how useful the data is, Google is factoring in this type of information within its current research and studies.
"The Web search quality team has a lot of different groups in a lot of different offices, so people including the original Blog Search team, people who worked on Realtime Search, have been working on using these sorts of things as a signal," says Cutts.
For example, generating a large number of links and a large number of followers are not the only elements that matter in order to rank well. The quality of the information provided also factor into relevant ranking structures. In addition, quality is calculated by the number of followers that access quality content. Quality is also calculated by the number of real people viewing the content versus bots and web crawlers.
When asked by Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land. “If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-nofollowed links that may naturally result from it?”
In a statement provided to Sullivan, Google said, “Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article…”
Sullivan followed up with: “Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?”
Google responded via a statement that said, “We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.”
In summary, there seems to be a new and additional methodology to building backlinks and page ranking for websites via authoritative social media connection. Activities like tweeting, retweeting, and status ranking like Twitter Rank, Social Rank, or Author Rank are all contributors to calculating a page’s quality and rank among search engines like Google and Bing. In light of this information, the process of page ranking does not mean Twitter and Facebook is suddenly the answer to getting the best ranking. However, because this information is calculated and used to some degree according to relevance, social media is certainly an area of focus and concentration in the development of marketing strategy.