My latest article at Practical Ecommerce, read it in full here.

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Social “signals” increasingly influence search results in both Google and Bing. The search engines are coming to consider social signals as more indicative of how searchers value a page than traditional link signals, though links remain very important to search engine optimization. In addition, the engines consider social signals harder to falsely manipulate than the content and link signals that have traditionally driven SEO. I recently wrote about this growing trend in “Managing SEO and Social Media Together.” Ecommerce merchants can increase social interaction with a site simply by including the right social buttons or widgets on the right pages of the site.

Bing and Facebook have an agreement to include Facebook social data into Bing’s search results, both as actual results and as a way to influence rankings of other pages that Facebook users “Like” or link to. Google doesn’t have access to Facebook data as directly as Bing does, but signs point to Google’s ability to crawl public portions of Facebook to cull some social signals. In addition, Google has its own social network in Google+, enabling Google to harvest all sorts of juicy user data about which sites and pages users like and link to. Both search engines have the ability to crawl Twitter for social signals as well. Social signals are clearly important to search engine optimization, but many ecommerce sites struggle with how to encourage more customers to behave more socially with their brands.

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