RankBrain is one of Google’s most misunderstood search algorithms and as a result, there has been a vast amount of rumor and speculation about what RankBrain can and cannot do. One of the repeated rumors about RankBrain is that social shares and/or social ads can impact how RankBrain ranks a site, and the more social “impact” a site has, the more RankBrain will boost those sites in the search results.
At Big Digital Adelaide today, during a fireside chat with Gary Illyes from Google and myself, RankBrain was one of the discussion topics. Illyes explained how RankBrain works in more detail, and I asked him specifically if social ads or social sharing impacts RankBrain at all.
Illyes was pretty emphatic with his “No.”
His answer isn’t surprising since Google has said before that social signals in the regular search algo are not used, since they can be unreliable and access to those signals could possibly be removed in the future (such as the Twitter firehose). And it makes sense that RankBrain would follow those same kinds of restrictions against social signals, either paid or unpaid.
Bottom line, don’t follow the rumors that say buying Facebook or Twitter ads will help your site influence RankBrain.
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