Link Building In The 21st Century

by Elmer Boutin on March 14, 2011

One of the considerations search engines use to determine relevancy of a particular web site is links which lead to that web site. Think about links as “votes” to determine which web sites are better than others for given key word phrases. Because of this, it often pays for someone to work on building links to your web site from other, non-spammy, authoritative web sites.

Getting links from other sites is hard work, too. Some people are tempted to take shortcuts and buy links on content farms or spam sites. Recent updates in Google’s algorithm have severely reduced the efficacy of links from these spammy sources. In the end, the slow but steady method still works best.

Enter Social Media
A while back, I asked the question, “Still Think Socmed Is A Fad?” In that context, I was addressing the assumptions by some that getting involved in social media for any type of marketing purpose was a waste of time because there was no real value in it. Perhaps getting involved in “the conversation” isn’t for everyone, nor for every brand. But, is it worth while to get involved to boost your position in search results?

Search engines are using social media as signals to determine relevancy in their search results. Bing is getting data directly from Facebook while Google is getting near real time data from Twitter. This correlation of data was confirmed at last year’s Search Engine Strategies in San Francisco. In his presentation during the Advanced SEO session at the recent PubCon South, Rob Garner from iCrossing shared this quote which was given by either Dylan Casey from Google, Paul Yiu from Bing or Tobias Peggs from One Riot:

“Yes, tweets with links are treated differently in the algorithms, and effectively count as links.”

(It wasn’t clear who actually said this, but it was apparently confirmed by Dylan and Paul. If someone has the exact information, please feel free to correct/update in the comments).

From my own, anecdotal, experience I know Google is indexing tweets very quickly. I have often seen my own tweets show up in Google Alerts for my name within just a few hours after sending.

The fact that links from authoritative users passed along via Twitter and Facebook are counted as links from other authoritative sources means that link-building may have gotten a little bit easier.

Note, I didn’t write “a lot easier,” but every little bit helps.

This about this: If you have good content and some whom Google and Bing consider authorities send links to that content via Twitter and/or Facebook, you are going to benefit from those “votes” just as if that same person had put a link on their website. This could save a lot of time by getting some link building done via crowdsourcing.

So, do you still think Socmed’s a fad? Considering the PR benefits from public customer service and as a part of your link building strategy, I hope you might be starting to change your mind.

Update – March 17, 2011:
I posted this piece on Monday, March 14, 2011. Today, Jennifer Lopez at SEOmoz confirms this with her own anecdotal observations and proposes an experiment to see if how she can rank on Google for her name. This will be an interesting experiment considering her much more famous competition. Check it out, and help the experiment by following the instructions at the end of her post.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google
  • Technorati
  • RSS Feed

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy Weadock March 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

This is s great post. Deep down, I always knew social media would have it’s place within search. You did give me a reminder to set some additional criteria for my Google Analytics account. Thank you!


Elmer Boutin March 26, 2011 at 7:17 am

Thanks, Tammy. As search engine look for clues as to what people want to see when they type their search terms in the box, it makes sense that social conversations would eventually be included in the mix. Now that they are getting data feeds directly from the social sites themselves, the speed at which those signals are incorporated is increasing dramatically.

This makes me think about reputation management and how a firestorm of criticism like with GAP’s logo incident or the Nestle sourcing thing might someday be able to seriously affect the “official” site’s standings in SERPs. It may increase the need to monitor social spaces for conversations around the brands we manage so we can respond to criticism faster.


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