Social Media ... Where's the ROI?
3. Court Search Engines
One of the advantages of building your own social media solution—versus just participating in outside networks such as Facebook—is improved search results. “The catch with social media marketing is that a lot of these sites put a ‘no follow’ attribute on links, and when the [search] engines see that, they don’t follow the link and they don’t pass any link value or SEO value through the link,” Sherk points out.
He says that while a presence on a network like Facebook, or numerous hits on a social bookmarking site like Delicious.com, will generate traffic in secondary links to your site, it will not increase your links with SEO value.
The thinking behind the no-follow attribute is that it will protect a network’s content from users who would manipulate it purely to boost their search results. As social media becomes more ingrained in all aspects of Web use, Sherk believes the engines and social networks might adjust their thinking. “More and more online activity and interaction is happening on social media sites. So if you completely divorce that from your ranking algorithms, you’re missing an important signal as to what people value on the Web today. So I do think that over time, you’ll see it factored in more and more,” Sherk says.
Building solutions like McGraw-Hill’s Business Exchange and Hearst’s Answerology is advantageous because their content, including links, can be optimized for search engines. “We built from scratch, and we built in an era when everyone acknowledges that search is the end-all and be-all way to locate information,” Byrne states.
He says that while there are only 1,500 topics on Business Exchange, more than 2 million of its pages are indexed by Google. “Google is even indexing individual actions by members of the Business Exchange community, so if you commented on a piece, a story or a blog post within the product, it’s going to get indexed, and, of course, your profile’s going to get indexed as well,” says Byrne, whose Business Exchange profile is ranked higher in search results than his Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.