UPDATE January 2016:
It seems like a lifetime ago when I wrote this and a lot of metaphorical water has flown under the digital bridge since then.
Sometimes it’s useful to revisit posts like these, especially ones written in the heat of the moment, to see what, if anything, has changed. And it is clear everything has changed yet nothing has changed.
Google has indeed moved away from the traditional link counting to more sophisticated methods of ranking websites and sure, sharing is one of those things that now make a difference. Interestingly though, the prediction I made about social media becoming a sea of spam pretty much came to pass and both Facebook and Twitter have gone to great lengths to ensure that link bait posts like the ones I describe below, are few and far between.
My original outburst though about content becoming irrelevant is of course completely wrong. A series of algorithm updates, including a particularly vicious Panda update, have made sure that better content does get rewarded. Just how vicious that update was has only become apparent over time. Today, if you want to rank you can still spam your way to the top using ‘black hat’ link building techniques but it won’t last for long. As it was in days gone by, content is once again king.
So with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight please go easy on me. For the sake of the fluffy puppy and kitten if for nothing else….
Article first written July 2013
Share this article! Please! Go on, share it across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Diigo, Disqus, Delicious and every other network you can think of. You see the simple act of you clicking a button and sharing the picture of fluffy cuteness seemingly now counts for more in Google than any amount of content we can write about Digital marketing or Search Engine Optimisation.
The new paradigm stems from a subtle change Google has made in its advice to Webmasters where it used to say
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
This has now changed and here’s what they say today:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
So, links are no longer the currency of the internet, it’s sharing.
Can you hear that sound? It’s the sound of the floodgates opening and this could well sound the death knell for sites like Facebook.
Facebook is a useful tool for interacting socially with friends but the minute that it becomes the currency by which Google measures the value of your content then expect the abuse to start.
Already your timeline is no doubt littered with examples of rubbish content or false content designed to trick you into liking a page. This will just get worse and whole teams will be set up in low wage environments to sit there all day liking and sharing content, irrespective of its merits. The spam that currently litters the internet is about to arrive in enormous quantities on social channels and if we’re not careful it could drown out anything valuable.
So whilst we still have time, share our picture of something fluffy and like the heck out of this article. More than anything we’ve written in the past two years this is bound to get traffic to our site and in the process prove beyond doubt that SEO is all about cute kittens and playful puppies….