There’s been a lot of debate about whether people’s postings on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and other social networks play a role in the way Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) ranks companies and websites. One Internet research firm said their study late last year suggested that they don’t factor into search rankings, but now we have the official word straight from the horse’s mouth. According to Search Engine Watch, Google web spam chief Matt Cutts said they don’t use social network postings to rank websites, and the reason why is simple.

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Google can’t crawl social networks effectively

Cutts focused on this issue in one of his recent webmaster help videos. He basically said that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) are treated just like any other webpages. This means that if something happens on those sites and Google is able to crawl it, then it factors into the search engine rankings.

However, many of the things which appear on those pages aren’t able to be crawled, which means that most of the time, they don’t factor into the search rankings.

Google’s stance appears to have changed

A few years ago, Cutts indicated that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was using social signals as part of their ranking for websites, but as Search Engine Watch notes, the company has launched its own social network, Google+, since then. The agreement Google previously had with Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) ended at that point as well.

Cutts apparently said that they had “at least one experience” where they were blocked from being able to crawl websites for about a month and a half. He was apparently referring to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). He said their engineers “would be a little bit leery” about trying to extract data from websites when they might be blocked from being able to crawl them.

Google notes other problems with crawling profiles

Another big problem Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) notes in terms of crawling social networking profiles is the fact that they change frequently, and the search engine only crawls the web at certain times. So since the information on social networking profiles is always changing, the information is nearly always out of date soon after Google crawls them.

And then there’s the issue that someone on a social network could change their relationship status or block someone else. In the case of a serious issue like abuse, if Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) crawls the profiles at the moment when they were still linked, they could be returning information which creates a problem for the person who blocked someone.