Google Analytics Social Data Hub – What Does This Mean for SEO?
Yet another announcement from Google has got my head ticking overtime. Yesterday Google published their “Invitation to social sites to integrate with Google Analytics”. Basically they plan to launch a social data hub within Analytics next year, which is going to show sharing, commenting and voting stats from various social networks. In theory this should allow marketers to measure their social engagement much better as it’s all going to be about seeing social activity on other networks, not just the activity that happens on a website itself.
What intrigues me is the reason for Google doing this when Google Analytics has to date been all about onsite activity. I suppose the first reason is because they need to provide good social stats for Google + anyway, and they’ve realised that the only way one set of stats is useful is if you can get the whole picture – a bit like the way Google Analytics shows all traffic sources so you can benchmark Google against Bing for example. I guess it makes sense for them to integrate other social networks into Analytics when looking at it this way. Which leads me onto the next point which I think will be the main talking point of this announcement – the social networks that are already working with Google.
Or should I say the social networks that aren’t already working with Google… Facebook and Twitter. Why aren’t they included in this? Is it because Google haven’t ‘invited’ them until now, or is it because Facebook and Twitter don’t want to be included? Surely Google will include the two biggest networks if they know what’s good for them. It’s a bit like saying that they’ll show traffic from AOL and Alta Vista, but not Bing and Yahoo!
I have to admit that although I do take interest in the happenings and developments of social networks other than Facebook and Twitter, I don’t spend too much time on other sites such as Digg and Reddit, I leave that to the social media folks or content writers, with the knowledge that sharing helps but .
From my point of view, most SEO’s would rather spend more time on link building than on social networks as they feel it adds more direct value to SEO than sharing signals. However this is something else that’s got me thinking about Google’s reasoning behind this development – does this indicate something for SEO? We know that social signals are becoming more important in ranking factors and Google should take all activity into account, not just Google +, and not just social activity within a site itself. It also makes sense for Google to rank sites that create sharable content, not just sites with content that links back to their site from a page with high PR, which seems to be part of their plan to get rid of bad content.
If this means that we’ll be more able to track the social signals that’ll have an impact on rankings then I’m looking forward to seeing the stats.
What are your thoughts? How many questions marks have I used in this blog post? (!)