Social Media and SEO

Go to any search conference today and there will be at least one discussion on Social Media. It is starting to become much clearer how the two connect with announcements from booth Bing and Google that they use social signals for rankings, as well as announcements they will start to use social results much more so when returning personalized results. What I’d like to do here is break down each of the following major social media platforms from an SEO perspective:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linked-in
  • Blogs
  • YouTube

Facebook

Facebook for the most part is a walled garden. Some of that wall has been coming down. Fan pages is one of them. You can use fan pages as a way to run link building campaigns. Posting entries on a page with links back to your pages are indexable by the spiders today. Some links have no-follow, but for the most part these links are spiderable. Further Facebook pages can also show up in the search results so this is one more page you can help to rank.

While on the topic of SEO, Facebook currently utilizes Bing to serve up search results for sites that are outside of the Facebook community. These are the same results that are shown on Bing. Currently the thought is these links are seldom clicked on. With Facebook’s purchase of Chai Labs there is the chance Facebook is preparing to ramp up its search engine and branch out into its own search vehicle. This is all a space to keep an eye on here.

Lastly optimizing your posts to show up on peoples walls is not a simple matter of posting to the site. Facebook uses a formula it refers to as EdgeRank, the formula looks like this:

Facebook looks at 3 elements; the first is interaction or affinity. If you post or interact with someone else frequently then you will have a higher affinity.

Weight of the action, Creating a comment probably carries more weight than a response, while both of those carry more weight than liking or tagging someone.

Lastly how long ago did all this happen, over time the importance will decay with a half life, becoming less and less important compared to newer EdgeRanks.

Twitter

Twitter actually carries very little SEO link building opportunity. Twitter allows for sharing of links very easily, but links are all wrapped in no-follows. Google has stated that while it won’t flow PageRank through a no-follow it will traverse the link regardless. This may help some pages get discovered but it’s not a strategy to rely on to get pages indexed.

The power of Twitter comes from the ability to share information quickly with others. Power users of twitter, can share links to a page. If they share with some bloggers, the blogger may write about the page and include a link to it. The SEO effort through twitter is very high however, and unless you know power users has very little SEO value.

The recommendation with Twitter is to focus on how to get your tweets to rank in twitter, using hash tags on keywords to allow people to search your tweets and find what you are talking about, and to get as many people to re-tweet your links as possible.

Lastly where Twitter does excel is in what is referred to as “real time search” where the search engines show tweets in real time around searches on hot topics, or items that are trending highly in the twitter community. Relevant hash tags and followers will determine if your tweets show up in the search results in Google and Bing

Linked-in

Like Facebook another walled garden. Linked-in has recently enabled company profile pages, but sticks mostly to personal profiles. Linked-in is an opportunity to build your own personal brand, and develop and connect with folks.

Linked-in also has enabled the ability to share recently actions on other social media platforms with others, but this all offers little to no SEO. The hope with linked-in is that you can share information with others who may be able to promote your content through means they have access to such as other websites or blogs.

Blogs

Blogger outreach programs have proven to be very successful SEO activities. In the world of SEO the saying of “there’s no such thing as bad press” is true, though there is such a thing as a bad link. In the case of legitimate blogs, any link to a page on our site is valuable. The search engines don’t care if a blog post is positive or negative only that the page talks about a topic related to linked to pages related topic. Links from pages on a similar topic are the most valuable links. If the blog is a very popular blog then that link is even more valuable.

Blogs also offer the ability to post comments, some blogs have no-follow links others do not. Regardless well crafted posts, and built up relationships with bloggers can give opportunity to suggest future topics. With a blog it’s important to work with the blogger, to see them as a person and not a tool. Establish relationships with bloggers, and lead to fruitful relationships of good solid link building.

Lastly with blogs for the creative types out there, you can develop plug-ins for some of the more popular platforms. If you can create tools or templates that are useful, you can sometimes get a link back through you’re tool or template. Most well designed plug-ins allow for that link to be turned on or off, to make them more user friendly.

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. It accounts for 25-28% of searches on Google Sites. A lot of people don’t even think of YouTube as a search engine. Further it’s a content distribution network. To get video indexed and quickly findable on the internet YouTube is probably the easiest way to do this.

Ensure videos that are uploaded are properly tagged with relevant keywords, a proper description and a good summary. One additional feature YouTube has recently introduced is a link back to the most popular site showing the video. This link contains a no-follow but there is a slow awareness of accrediting video hosted on YouTube back to a website as well.

The downside to hosting video on YouTube is that any searches for your video will drive traffic to YouTube and not back to the site hosting it. If driving traffic to your site through video searches is your goal, then you will need to pursue a local hosting and indexing strategy instead.

In Conclusion

Summing up Social Media and search as a whole, the 3 key take aways should be:

  1. Search and SEO is not just about indexing our site, but also the social platforms we engage on. As well as optimizing content on those platforms for their specified native search engines.
  2. Social sites enable the sharing and exchange of links, but not all links are created equal. Understand which sites generate page rank, and which don’t with no-follows
  3. Social Media is not about link building first; it’s about relationship building with people. The links will come naturally with solid relationships.
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