The More Followers You Have, the Higher You Rank in Google – True or False?

Yesterday I got a comment/question on one of my posts (I love it when that happens!).  The post was “Write to Sell – 14 Practical Copywriting Tips for SEO and Inbound Marketing Tips.” The question was on one of my favorite topics, the interplay between search and social, and specifically about how/if the number of followers you have influences your search engine rankings.

Comment:I read that social media is getting more and more important for SEO, and that the more fans and followers you have on accounts linked to your website, the higher you rank in google. Is that true?

My Response: ” There is a lot of debate around the topic of social signals and SEO. I personally believe that there is a growing correlation between social signals and SEO. however, having a high number of followers/fans isn’t going to get you ranked higher in Google. 

Even without thinking about social, there are over 200 factors that are taken into consideration when it comes to how/if a site is displayed in search engine results page. 

From a social network standpoint, it’s more important to be genuine, engaged, and add good value.

I wanted to go into more detail, but it didn’t seem appropriate to write the equivalent of  a blog post as a response to a comment, not to mention the fact that it’s a great topic and it would have been a shame to overlook the opportunity to create and publish some new content.

The short answer to the question: The More Followers You Have, the Higher You Rank in Google – True or False? is False.

Having said that, I’m not trying to say that the size of your social network is irrelevant, however it’s important to understand that there is no single factor or magic ingredient that will ensure you will rank higher in Google.

The dance between social and search - it's time to TangoThere is no proof that social signals such as the number of followers has a direct impact on search engine rankings; however there are many folks, myself included, believe that there is a correlation between having a strong social presence and increased visibility in search results. This is particularly true when we’re talking about the Google+ platform. I like to think of it as the “dace between search and social.”

Google’s job is to deliver the most relevant results possible. Which means much more than finding the content that contains all the right keywords and was published by someone with a whole bunch of followers. Search results are no longer based on keywords alone. Google tracks, analyzes, and incorporates search behavior and other factors to deliver the most relevant results based on the context of a search.

The context of the search could also be described as the reason for the search. Variables like time of day, how we interact the search results, our past search behavior, and who we have in our social network provide many data points to Google and are used to deliver results that best match our “moment of intent.”

This means that if we want to be “found” in search, we can’t chase one single factor and hope that it will work because it won’t. More than ever before, the importance of being authentic, sharing valuable information, and engaging with others is key to success in the online world.

If you have 10,000 followers, but don’t publish content that really helps people and adds value, focus on self promotion, and minimize the importance of relationships you will not succeed. On the other hand if you have 10,000 followers and you’re engaged and genuine you’re on your way to being a rock star – or at least you have a better chance of being found.

The quality of your followers and the people you engage with is also important, it’s no better to buy “followers” than it is to buy links. It’s spammy, unnatural, and it’s only a matter of time before it will backfire.

My belief is that if you focus on doing the right things for the right reasons, which to me means focus on how you can add value to the people in your network or would like to have in your network, and not on how to outsmart Google you will be rewarded.

What are your thoughts on whether or not having a lot of followers helps you rank in Google?