For several years now one of the prime focuses for SEO marketers, SEO article writers and website entrepreneurs has been the art of link building. Creating external links to your website has clearly been one of the single most important aspects of search engine optimisation. But then social media came along.
For quite some time most SEO marketers have seen social media as simply another way to create more links. But to see social media in this way is to miss the point. The search engines haven’t missed the point, and so by viewing social media in a very two dimensional way many online marketers are destined for a much shorter online life expectancy than they hoped for.
In order to understand how the search engines are starting to view social media, and to understand therefore how online business owners and SEO specialists should be starting to look at social media, there’s a very simply experiment that you can try.
It requires nothing more than a vaguely decent imagination, because in order to understand how social media is now comparing to plain old link building, I simply want you to imagine a little high street with just two main buildings in it.
It doesn’t really matter whether they’re amusement arcades, museums, pound shops or left handed clockwork cheesegrater specialists, the point is, you need to imagine two separate shops of some kind. Now, the one on the left has a dozen doors lined up along the front. One after another, some smaller than others, some quite large double doors, some revolving doors, and some automatic sliding doors beckoning anyone who passes within a few feet of the entrance to step inside and explore some delightful wares.
Seems as though this is a good tactic. Why have just one door when a dozen or more can be built, encouraging more people to see the shop, and step inside? The easier something is to get in, the more people will do just that, surely?
You can probably see where I’m going with this. Link building has very much been along these sorts of lines, providing real live people as well as search engine spiders the chance to reach the website and step inside through a vast number of possible ‘doors’ or links. But what of the other shop?
This is our contrasting example to demonstrate in a simplified way how search engines are starting to take advantage of this phenomenon. You see the second shop, the one on the right, only has one door. But standing in front of that door is a long queue of people. They don’t seem bored or fed up, but anxious to join the queue, eager to get inside.
The first shop looks a little dead in comparison. Lots of doors, but no real enthusiasm. One door, and a veritable queue of people who clearly know something you don’t about what’s going on inside. If you’re British you’ll already have mentally joined the queue, because that’s what we British people do. We love queues.
But almost anyone with any sense of curiosity or desire to join in a good thing will at least move closer to find out more. Social media provides search engines with this virtual queue. By analysing the way people interact with website content, the way they behave with links and they way they respond to websites, search engines can learn which sites are really popular and relevant, as opposed to which site owners have simply invested more time and money building back links as though they were bricks in a wall.
Building links in the same way people build walls is not the way to create doors. By appealing to real people in a way that gets them to respond positively, sharing the discovery through social media, with the result that more people behave in a positive way towards the websites is a much better and more accurate picture of a website’s true value.