How do you move from the second to first page of Google search results? As far as I can tell, a competitor was able to do so simply via a massive increase in activity on Facebook. It seems as if this competitor moved to 6th from 14th on Google for a highly competitve term just by pumping up their interactions on Facebook.
The keyword term for which they made the big jump is "prom dresses", a highly competitive term with over 400,000 searches a month in North America. While there may well have been other activity by the competitor that played a role in the increase in the rankings, their increase in Facebook was the only thing that stands out. The competitor went from 40,000 Facebook fans in June to 123,000 this month (September) with an even bigger increase on a percentage basis in Facebook's "talking about" metric.
A review of this competitor's site, incoming links, and other social media actiivity did not indicate any other factors that seemingly could account for the increase in ranking for the term "prom dresses". (This website can be sussed out based on details included in this post.)
It is certainly premature to jump to a conclusion that Facebook alone can lead to a big jump in the rankings given that: 1) this is the first example I have come across of a site moving up to the first page of a Google search engine result page; and 2) the competitive review may have missed other factors that played a role in the increase in rankings.
Is the Google algorithm really this sensitive to a big increase in activity on Facebook? I am not terribly confident in this conclusion, as it seems a bit simplistic. However, until additional evidence is uncovered to either support or disprove it, I'm going to assume it may be valid.
For reference, in regard to Facebook activity, the only metrics being tracked for this review were "fans" and "talking about". Thus, while 'status updates" and "shares" are likely the gold standard in regard to Facebook activity, this is a subject for future research.
The big increase in Facebook activity seems to have been based on two factors: 1) running sweepstakes that included making a "staus update" and "liking" the site on Facebook as an entry requirement; and 2) running ads on Facebook promoting the sweepstakes.
There is definitely an aspect of "gaming" the system in requiring sweepstakes entrants to tag the company in a Facebook status update.
Admittedly, my evidence is a bit thin, but it appears that a site was able to move up to the 1st page of Google search results for a competitive term simply based on Facebook activity. Until proven otherwise, it seems like increasing Facebook fans to 123,000 from 40,000 in three months, and forcing sweepstakes entrants to include the site in Facebook status updates, was the key to this strong result.