How Google+, Twitter, and Facebook Change the Game
The years 2011-2012 saw a huge rise in social sharing and its effects on search. Google, in particular, began to incorporate a huge number of social signals into its search results. This involves serving personalized results to logged-in users that include content shared by the searcher’s social circle (Facebook, Twitter and others). These results might not always appear in the top ten, but are undoubtedly promoted due to this social influence.
The potential power of this shift towards social for search marketers is huge. Someone with a large social circle, who shares a lot of material, is more likely to see that material (and her face) promoted in search results. For publishers, it’s beneficial to have your content shared by these highly influential folks with large social followings. For Google searches, this is especially true of content shared on Google+.
Are Social Shares the Same as Links?
In a word: no. Although there is evidence that social shares such as Tweets, Likes, and Plusses affect rankings, at this time links are considered a far superior and more lasting way to promote the popularity of your content than any other method.