ARE THE SOCIAL NETWORKS CRITICAL TO WEBSITES? – Gone are the days were you can simply create an article using other content around the web due to the rise and continuing updates of Google’s search algorithms.
Nearly all websites around the globe rely heavily on the visitors that Google is able to deliver and this is only possible if full compliance is achieved to Google’s content guidelines.
In essence what Google wants is that each and every page it indexes to carry unique and useful content that visitors will find useful and its usefulness is often determined by how many of the visitors share the content throughout the social networks.
When you look carefully at the major social networks they are little more that ‘snippet’ content farms with zero originality of content and when it comes to Google’s algorithms they break almost every rule in the book. However the major social networks, such as Tumblr, have no real concern about being penalized in the search rankings by Google. Their traffic source is purely obtained from their registered users to visit time and time again and who share their existence with friends.
If you look closely at Facebook it uses its users to propagate its own growth; that is through word of mouth via friends online. Facebook never relied on Google for traffic because so much of what is added to Facebook is simply content scraped, farmed and duplicated from other websites.
Many web owners today worry about content theft; that is we produce an article and then another website comes along and copies that information for their own use. It happened to me the other day but unlike social networks where people have a tendency to copy just a snippet that lures visitors; this particular website copied the entire article for its own commercial gain.
With Google on the war path of duplicate content and the fact that I felt violated; I email the website and asked them to remove it. The website in question had a PageRank 4 so I assumed they had a reasonably good standing but to my surprise the email addresses this website provided all bounced back as ‘undeliverable’. The only route now was to initiate an official complaint using the Chillingeffect.org DMCA notice.
Considering Google’s algorithms it will harm the rankings of the offending website and yet it doesn’t have to be that way. If you do find an interesting article that you want to feature on your own website then copy a ‘snippet’, provide a link to the original source and then give your own views on the content you are writing about. Yes it takes time and effort but also creates original content that Google likes.
Going back to my original question; are social networks critical to websites? The answer is an obvious one as managed correctly the social networks are indeed capable of delivering a vast number of visitors. The key to getting these visitors comes right back down to what Google wants; that being unique and useful content.
The social networks, unlike Google, do not require web owners to jump through hoops, nor do they require you to ‘engineer’ your content for optimization for a particular ranking position. Anyone running a website will know that content not appearing on Page 1 of the Google search results for the desired keywords might as well not be indexed by Google in the first place.
With the social networks the game is almost a complete reverse. Almost no restrictions on what you can post and what you do post generally features at the top of the list for a little while. Of course with the amount of traffic and content being delivered by the minute this content doesn’t appear at the top for very long and so therefore the key to success is to make what you do create as compelling as possible in order to maximize traffic.
Google on the other hand has longevity in the exposure that your content receives. Produce an article that people share across the social networks and Google will drive that content up the rankings. Once content hits Google’s Page 1 for the desired keywords the content is capable of generating vast amounts of traffic over a very long period of time.
The issue that many web owners now have is that Google appears to be making it almost impossible to get content ranked high enough. With other issues, such as Google being found guilty of manipulating its own algorithms in order to promote its own services such as Google News and YouTube, many feel that the time and effort it takes to get a page ranked in Google is no longer worth it. As one friend put it; ‘how can I compete with Google, they make all the rules and then break them for their own commercial gain?’
If you want my advice then I would strongly suggest you give up worrying about Google. Simply concentrate your efforts on creating great content that you know your visitors want. Produce a simple XML sitemap, submit this to Google and leave it at that.
Concentrate your efforts on the Social Networks as getting content listed it easy, fast and with few restrictions highly effective.
How much time do you spend each month working on SEO in order to garner better rankings in Google? Do you think the social networks are more effective in driving traffic to a website? Have your say… leave your comments below.