How Klout and Social Signals are Affecting Search Results

In late 2010, Danny Sullivan interviewed representatives from Google and Bing about how they use social data from Twitter and Facebook. And while this article does seem a bit dated, it sets the stage for how social signals affect search results.

One of the questions that Danny asked had to do with how Twitter links are weighted:

Google responded with, “Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article.”

Bing responded with, “We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results.”

The article goes on to describe how Google and Bing weight links based on social signals.

What Do These Social Signals Mean to You?

In short, this means social media is not only a way for you to interact with others and be entertained, but is also a way for you to get real results such as increased search engine rankings. Also, since Google and Bing are taking into account the social authority of a user, which includes social signals such as the number of follows someone has, you should begin to pay attention to your Klout.

What is Klout, you ask? Well, it is a measurement of your social influence across the web. And while there is more than one way to measure social influence, such as Followerwonk, Klout is by far the most popular.

As a matter of fact, Klout is so important that its new program called “Klout Experts” will begin showing up as the lead items in Bing search results. You can see an example of how Klout Experts shows up in search results below (image from a Klout blog post):

Klout Experts Social Signals

How to Raise Your Klout Score

By now, you are likely wondering how you can increase your Klout score, which is just one social signal that can affect your search results.

According to an article by Klout, Klout scores are currently based on more than 400 signals from eight different networks. And while the process that Klout uses to determine your social authority score is proprietary, Klout has released this list of actions that they track on your social networks.

  • Facebook – Likes, comments, wall posts, and friends.
  • Twitter – Followers, retweets, mentions, and list memberships.
  • Instagram – Followers, likes, comments, and photographs submitted.
  • Google+ – Comments, +1s, and reshares.
  • LinkedIn – Connections, recommendations, and comments.
  • Foursquare – Tips saved by other, tips liked by others, friends, check-ins, likes, mayorships.
  • Wikipedia – Inlinks, ratio of inlinks to outlinks, PageRank.
  • Klout – +K received from others and questions answered.

To increase your Klout score, I would recommend that you connect all of your social networks to Klout and focus on increasing any actions on the list above.

What Do You  Think?

What social signals do you monitor for your personal accounts? Are you currently using any tools such as Klout or Followerwonk to gauge your social authority as well the authority of those you interact with?

Please leave a comment below. I’m interested to hear your unique take on how you manage social networking.

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Written by Eric Binnion

Eric Binnion is a computer science student at Midwestern State University. When Eric is not online, he is usually volunteering in his community or enjoying time with his family. You can find Eric on Twitter.



  • Barbara says:

    I think it’s exhausting; it’s no longer social media but a huge burden of responsibility to keep up with all of them. What used to be fun is now necessary; I sort of hate that.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      You’re right Barbara, it is quite exhausting at times. There are some tools that can help automate, such as IFTT, but social media is very hands-on.

  • Val says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the article.

    The most intriguing part is within the last portion of the post, “How to raise your Klout score”.

    While interesting – It does call into question the relevance of participating on social networking sites (With the exception of Wikipedia) and really illuminates Google’s desperation to become a social search utility.

    Side note: Rather than focus on social search, Google really should direct focus on providing more relevant indexing of search results (Do we really need to see links from 2004 appearing on the first page rather than more current links?). Google searches are a data dump (Literally) comprised of out dated links and largely irrelevant results. Ridiculous.

    As a business owner (Tech company), I have been resistant about creating more time just to spend it interacting on ‘The latest flavor of the month’ social network site. I participate on 1 social network.

    The idea of being required to participate on social networking sites seems like a defeat of it’s purpose. Generally social networking is supposed to fun, not inherent to one’s business.

    Now with Google’s acknowledged ‘algorithmic’ involvement, the concept has just become more complicated and inconvenient.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hi Val,

      Thank you for the insights. It does seem like social networking and social signals have become quite a pain, but I do think that they serve some purpose.

      Due to social signals such as the number of followers a person has or how many times an article has been shared, search engines now have much more data to weed out relevant articles from their spammy counterparts.

      And although I think the social graph has a lot of potential to search engines, I’m curious to find out just how much weight search engines are placing on social signals.

  • Rajesh Magar says:

    Very true, And now Google is started giving more weightage to +1’s and promotional activity happening on Google+. Second I found “peerindex” is quite more powerful to gauge social influence. Their People centric social analytics is much more potential to scale social signals.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Thanks for the peerindex recommendation Rajesh, I’ll be sure to check it out!

  • Arbaz K says:

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for sharing this post.
    I never thought the Klout can affect the search results. Social signals are an important part in search results, I knew that but it is the first time I am seeing Klout in search engine results.
    Thanks for this post mate :)