Historically Google has used links as a proxy to determine the most relevant and authoritative websites to return to a user’s search query. Late 2010 Google and Bing confirmed that they do indeed now use social signals as a ranking factor, but only now are those in the SEO community starting to identify case studies where social signals are having a clear influence on search results.
A new case study can be added, Money Supermarket. Between 10th January and 16th of January Money Supermarket held a free prize draw. Users had to retweet a message (see below) containing a link to the car insurance product page, to provide them with a chance of winning a years free car insurance.
I believe this generated around ~2,500 RTs over the 7 days. The impact it had on Money Supermarket’s ranking for the search query ‘car insurance’ is most interesting.
Between September 21st and 11th January Money Supermarket had an average of 6th for the search query ‘car insurance’. During this time, their best position was 4th, held for just a couple of days while their lowest rank was 9th. Just two days after the competition ended, Money Supermarket started ranking 1st.
This 1st place ranking was held until 14th March, when Money Supermarket dropped back down to 3rd. How does Money Supermarket react to this drop? Another Twitter competition! Running from the 14th to 20th March. Money Supermarket are now ranking 2nd, and I’ll update this post after the competition has ended.
As always correlation doesn’t not necessarily imply causation. There may have been other signals having an influential role but certainly this case study adds further evidence to the importance of social signals.