A recent study finds Facebook Likes are rarely indexed, and Google doesn't pay that much attention to social media shared on the site.

For most brands, Facebook is an obvious front runner for social media marketing. With over 1 billion members worldwide, the social network has massive reach across audiences and can help companies generate new leads. However, a study from Stone Temple Consulting suggests Facebook does not offer so much in terms of SEO benefits. Google+, on the other hand, may help companies get their brand content indexed faster and more frequently. 

The study determined that Likes do not impact search rankings, that Google doesn’t crawl or index pages the more they’re shared and that text or link-based posts are indexed more than visual content. Ultimately, report author Eric Enge concluded that Google does not go through Facebook content to discover freshly published information, although a comparable study suggested crawlers do check Google+. 

Being well-‘Liked’ doesn’t help your ranking

To determine how Likes impact search rankings, the study drove endorsements to various pages. Although each received about 50 Likes, Google failed to take notice. Stone Temple Consulting reported the Likes were not indexed. 

A study finds pages that receive more LIkes don't necessarily perform better in search.

When brands share content on Google+, the pages are crawled within six seconds and then again every time users share the posts.

Part of the problem with Facebook Likes is that Google can’t use these signals to attribute authority, Enge wrote. It can count the number of endorsements, but cannot determine whether these are coming from highly reputable sources or low-ranking pages that sell Likes.

More sharing does not mean more SEO results

Social shares are one of the top indicators that a marketing strategy is working. It means viewers are paying attention and find the content so entertaining, helpful, valuable, etc. that they want to bring it to their followers’ attention, too.

However, it appears Google isn’t taking these endorsements into consideration when ranking digital content. Even when those shares were coming from the profiles of internet authorities, the study did not see evidence of Google accounting for these signals. 

Subject-matter authorities will recognize and connect with people putting out the best content, and that should be considered an indicator for valuable information.

This is, again, very different from Google+, where influence plays a role in SEO success. It’s well-known within the search marketing community that authors earn better SERP positions when they’re in more circles, and especially the circles of people considered highly influential. The assumption is that subject-matter authorities will recognize and connect with people putting out the best content, and that should be considered an indicator for valuable information.

 Social media isn’t one-size-fits-all 

These finding show that Facebook may not be as effective as Google+ for building strong search presence, but the social network still adds value by engaging customers and building brand awareness. To succeed online, marketers must carefully consider their individual goals and determine which networks map to specific aims.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.