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Social Media for SEO: Social News Sites and the Long Tail (Part I)

Social media has a lot of applications for branding, customer service, PR, and retention. And while all of these supportt the bottom line, it can be hard to draw a direct correlation between your social media efforts in these areas and your profitability.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that social media (SM) should come as an afterthought in any online marketing strategy. After all, American spend 906 million hours a month using social networks.

But that doesn’t make it any easier for the ROI-conscious companies to justify investing in social media. Well, if you’re able to justify investing in SEO, then you can most certainly justify investing in a certain kind of social media marketing: social news promotion.

The Problem with Social Media Links

One of the fundamental tenets of SEO is that you need to build links back to your site and product pages. And the more links you get with targeted anchor text (i.e. the keywords you’re trying to rank for), the better.

Now, social media links have a few problems in this respect. First, you can’t control the anchor text. Second, they are often “nofollow” links – meaning that they don’t pass any link juice. Finally, when they aren’t “nofollow” links, they are often redirects – meaning that they point to some place else on the social network which redirects to the landing page.

So this all makes social media sound pretty useless for SEO, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. The right kind of social strategy can still pass a lot of link juice your way.

Google and Social Media

So here’s the thing with Google: they want to show their users the most relevant search results possible. And Google understands that social media users are real people.

So while SEO’s who build a lot of targeted backlinks to their site are kind of “gaming the system,” real human users who are sharing links through their social media profiles provide Google another way of gauging the relevancy of a page.

Of course, since these links (1) are coming from individual profiles that don’t have a lot of juice to pass to begin with, (2) don’t have targeted anchor text, (3) might be nofollowed, and (4) might be redirected, each one isn’t worth very much. But if you manage to get hundreds of them at a time, Google is going to clue in that your site is, indeed, relevant to actual human beings.

So the question remains: how do you get hundreds of these links?

Next up … Part II – Social News Promotion & SEO

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