According to several sources, Bing, Google, and a number of other smaller, less well known search engines have been incorporating data from social media sites into their results since 2011. This is a potentially game-changing move for SEO as we have known it in the past. Although Google did come out with a "Google Social Search" tool a couple of years ago, the level of integration social data now shares in the main organic search query is unprecedented. This is not an unexpected move on the whole, given the fact that social media sites have been gaining prominence with rolling snowball speed for some time now, however it does raise some interesting questions as to the nature of user-generated content with relation to SEO.
Social Networks create a massive amount of data-all of it user generated. According to Facebook, people are actively sharing an average 30 billion pieces of content- per month. Twitter states that there are over 5 billion tweets, in the same amount of time. One of the reasons all this data is now able to be gathered so accurately is that pretty much every current website in existence is now sporting "like," "follow," etc. buttons as opposed posting and receiveing links or waiting to be crawled by a bot.
Bing has recently announced that they will be using "collective IQ," which basically means that things that are popular on Facebook are given higher rank. Google has responded with their own "#1" button, which affects your Google search feed when you are logged in. The question arises, "is all of this query personalization necessarily a good thing?"
It's all well and good that this helps viewers who are searching find what were looking for with greater accuracy, but it is possible that all of this social media influence will create a sort of online bubble around us. If you are only ever exposed to anything that reflects your own location and interests, it stands to reason that you might not develop any new tastes, and have a poor sense of diversity. The growing reach of social media data is not a bad thing, but there are certainly two sides of this coin.
Well, it can now be said that having an active social media presence is an asset to your organization's SEO efforts. The integration between the two is growing to the point where they may soon be the same thing entirely, so developing a social media strategy would now seem like a smart move for anyone looking to improve their SEO rankings.