How To Avoid The Link Vacuum Effect

I recently came across a post explaining why Twitter isn’t great for SEO. This quote in particular really got to me:

“In addition to being a nofollow vacuum, Twitter has the danger of becoming a linking vacuum. In the ideal scenario, people will find a link on Twitter and then link the post in their own blog – page rank gold.  But Twitter is becoming a kind of fishbowl where people merely link to a site from their Twitter account, not from their personal site.  It’s just easier and users can still feel as if they’re part of a viral meme.”

That whole bit about it being “easier” to just tweet than to go to the trouble of adding a link from a person’s site is kind of scary, because I have no doubt that it’s true. I’ve done it myself. As the article points out, there is an ideal scenario, but what in this industry actually functions in an ideal manner, all according to plan?

If you are using social media of any sort in your link building efforts, you should think carefully about all the ways that it could fail, whether that failure is as mild as not getting any increased traffic or as harsh as a reputation management nightmare. The reality is that as something like Twitter becomes an everyday part of the lives of people who don’t have a clue about how social media should work, we’re going to see that we do need a variety of alternative plans and realistic expectations.

For example, if you are using Twitter to actively build more inbound links to a URL (and by that I mean that you, for whatever reason, are tweeting a link and hoping that your followers will love the link so much that they put it on their own sites), you may indeed increase your traffic, but you may garner no new inbound links from sites other than Twitter. While tweets can be indexed by Google, the links are still nofollow. This may or may not be fine, as everyone has their own ideas about how to measure success. If you just want increased traffic, social media links are fantastic, if done well, but if you’re looking for an increase in inbound links, it may not happen the way you’re hoping.

What about Facebook? I’d think that the same scenario could apply. Facebook users post links, and their Facebook friends repost the links from their own profiles. That’s at best, too, as you’ve probably realized that you don’t get thrilling results every time you post a link in any social media setting. I seriously doubt that the 100 family members I have in my Facebook circle pay attention to my posted links, so there’s no way they’re reposting them.

If you do happen to be focused on using social media for more than just traffic, what can you do? Here comes that same old solution: make sure you have good content. Make sure you have exceptional content, just to be on the safe side. If your content is good enough, it’s going to have a better chance of garnering an inbound link and not just a few retweets. (The community aspect of social media can help here, too, of course, as if you’ve built up a quality network, you can always just ask people to link to your content.)

And don’t lose hope…there’s always Digg! There are other platforms as well, but the key point here is that if you do plan to heavily rely on social media for links, you need to do some cross-channel promotion. Tweet your Digg URL and not just the main URL, for example. Just make sure that you cover all your bases and know what to expect.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column | Social Media Marketing

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About The Author: owns the link development firm Link Fish Media and is one of the founding members of the SEO Chicks blog.

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