My previous column, Key Problems With Current Social Link Graph Signals hit a nerve with a few people who felt I was too harsh in my critique of social signals as content quality indicators. See this post from bigmouthmedia for one of the more in-depth responses.
It’s not that I don’t feel social signals have merit. They do. I used a wart removal/Yanni example as a way of making a point and elicit a laugh or two.
I’ll stand by my assessment of social signals impacting search results, which is that they are not ready for prime time, but there’s a more pressing matter I think all of us link builders might want to address. Explaining and giving examples of a wide variety of social signals and then setting expectations for clients on a client by client basis.
If a client is convinced he can social engineer his search rank to page one, then you either know and explain why this is or isn’t possible, and you share that with the client.
Telling them to tweet more often and follow the right people is not a social link ranking strategy. Yet I hear that exact tactic asked about in call after call.
I have told many clients that their best Twitter strategy is to tweet less, follow fewer people, stay within a tight vertical, and change the content they are tweeting about so it isn’t always just a URL self tweet.
I’ve recommended to several clients that they should kill their Twitter accounts altogether and start over, and to others, I’ve told them to launch multiple Twitter accounts for different purposes.
All of these strategies are viable depending on the situation and client. To clarify my point about followers, if you have 15,000 followers but are only following 76 people, and you see your tweets re-tweeted, this is a much different and more powerful signal set than if you have 15,000 followers, are following 17,000, and are tweeting all day long about anything. Do you understand why?
Your greatest asset to your clients is being able to help them see the best use for Twitter, and help them get from where they are to where they need to be.
It’s the same with Facebook. How discriminate are you with your likes, etc? Do you understand each of the possible interactions you can have within the Facebook environment and in the wild? It seems like there’s a new way to do something on Facebook every day. Are you confident you know what each of these actions accomplish for your client?
Google +1 is actually one of the least confusing social signals and most useful. To use an old school metaphor, I see the social graph working best if it works like an old graphic equalizer, with sliders set differently for each social signal and each searcher/surfer.
A little Twitter for me, a lot for you, but none for my mom. Lots of Facebook for some, less for others, etc. Imagine each slider representing a potential social signal. There are maybe 10 or so today worth analyzing, but that will increase.
In my opinion, the key is that there cannot be a universal social algo. This is where the challenge begins. If there is no universal social algo, there is no universal social strategy.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.