google-sandboxGoogle opened up its latest search engine update to the world yesterday. Though most of the changes are under theĀ  hood and the basic user interface is the same, some subtle changes are occuring. One of which appears to be the the weight that social media profiles and pages rank in the SERPS.

Patricio Robles over at Econsultancy writes:

As you can see, there aren’t many noticeable changes to the UI. In fact, you probably won’t notice much difference at all. According to Google’s Matt Cutts, “this update is primarily under the hood” and has involved “rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure“.

And yes, that means that there will be some changes in site rankings. From my limited initial tests, the impact on rankings seems subtle — most of the time.

One exception appears to be social web results. For instance, certain high-profile Facebook Pages appear to be receiving a major boost in the rankings with Caffeine. One commenter on the Google Webmaster Central blog also noted “I’ve noticed more Twitter pages in the results with this version of Google“.

I decided to test this for myself. Using the sandbox I did a search for my name. Sure enough at the #2 spot was my twitter page. When I searched for my company’s name (Goldstein Meda) I noticed another change. The map results were farther down the page. And though a few random results popped in my Twitter account for my business still showed up in the results.

Though there are some subtle differences, I have yet to see anything jaw dropping. The higher ranking positions of social media profiles and pages does give more weight to having a presence on some of the more influential social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedinĀ  and YouTube.

In my opinion this is only the beginning social media’s impact on online business and SEO.

I’d love to hear what you think of these developments. Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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Seth Goldstein is the Principal Creative Director at Goldstein Media LLC. He has been in the Web design and Internet marketing business for more than 10 years. A self-proclaimed technologist, Seth is addicted to all types of technology. He loves to help businesses of all sizes figure out the best way to use the Internet to grow their business.