Social Media Myths Debunked

As an owner of SocialAdr, a social media marketing web service, I get the opportunity to hear what people think about different SEO techniques on a daily basis.  Occasionally I learn a thing or two.  But most of the time it’s just plain wrong.

Social media involves many people from around the world “talking” about a webpage from many different social sites.   The search engines know that the more “social” activity they can pick up about a specific URL, the more effect this should have on that URL’s rankings.  And in the past couple years nearly every major Google algorithm change has further embraced social media.

I realize that I’m fortunate I decided to create a social media service in 2009, rather than an article marketing service, or a directory submission service, or any other type of SEO service that is becoming less and less effective.

Here’s a few myths that I hear quite often:

There’s no benefit in having multiple backlinks from the same domain

This is one of my favorite.  People get brainwashed on forums like the Warrior Forum, that backlinks are only beneficial if they’re doFollow and from different class-C IP addresses.  Maybe that used to be true, I don’t know.  What I do know is that the core concept behind “social media”, is having multiple accounts on the same site promoting your URLs.  When something goes “viral”, does it receive a single Tweet and a single Google +1 click and a single Facebook Like?  Hell no.  It receives thousands of similar social signals, from all over the place.

Furthermore, certain social media sites, such as social bookmarking sites, use “votes” to help promote URLs to the “top votes” pages or even the homepages.  And these pages are often high traffic and high PR.

So by getting multiple social media backlinks from the same domains, your URL is not only saying to search engines “Hey, look how popular I am!  It’s almost as if I’m viral!”, but it is also appearing on high traffic / high PR pages.  How is that not absolutely ideal for SEO purposes?

NoFollow links are useless

This myth isn’t specific to social media, but to SEO as a whole.  Recent research has shown that a healthy mix of doFollow / noFollow links is better for search engine rankings than having only doFollow links.

Wait a sec…what?  So even though Google (Matt Cutts) proposed the idea of the nofollow hyperlink attribute, an idea that has been widely adopted all over the web, they don’t even abide by it themselves?

That’s just ludicrous!

Or is it?

Here’s my take on it.  Originally the nofollow attribute was intended to help reduce spam.  Webmasters could use the attribute so that would-be spammers would be less inclined to leave spammy comments, because the backlinks they received from those comments would have no SEO value.  But…as more and more sites starting using nofollow attributes, the percentage of “legit” available backlinks become lower and lower.  That means the % of links Google can use in their ranking algorithm is/was shrinking.  It’s only natural to believe that if your input variables become fewer, the quality and accuracy of your algorithm reduces.

If you think about a “natural” progression of backlinks to a specific webpage, what would this consist of?  By “natural” I mean you’re not promoting your own webpage and nobody else is doing any SEO work for you.  The internet world has discovered your webpage and, because it’s so awesome, people feel obliged, without incentive, to promote it.  In this case, you might get a bunch of Tweets, Likes, social bookmarks, microblog mentions, social networking status mentions, Web 2.0 posts, blog posts, press releases, articles, etc. etc.  Now what type of links would these be?  Would they be ALL doFollow?  Hell now.  They’d be a healthy mix of doFollow/noFollow.

So in Google’s eyes, sites that have a healthy mix of doFollow/noFollow backlinks haven’t tried to “game” their rankings.  It’s likely they obtained their publicity honestly and naturally, compared to sites with ONLY doFollow links that are obviously using grey hat SEO techniques.

I want to create my own social media accounts and only promote my own URLs

Although I don’t hear people making this exact statement, I get the feeling from reading forums and seeing the different social media software offerings, that this mindset is very popular.

I look at it exactly the opposite.

Let me use an example.  A recent piece of desktop software I saw on the Warrior Forum made me reflect on this philosophy.  Here’s what it does:

  1. Creates a Hotmail email address
  2. Creates social media accounts (you have to manually enter CAPTCHA unless you have one of the popular paid services setup)
  3. Posts a bookmark to the accounts it just setup

I’m not even going to talk about the fact that it’s risky to repeat these steps a large number of times from the same IP, as the software doesn’t utilize proxies.

What I want to talk about is how this process is the opposite of what you should be trying to accomplish with social media.  Rather than setting up accounts, for yourself, that will only ever contain your own URLs, what you should be striving for is having other people promote your URLs to their accounts.  Then, and only then, will your social media campaigns appear “natural”.

Now if you’re wondering how you can get other people to promote your links, here’s a couple different ways:

  • Design an attractive website and write quality content that engages visitors and encourages them to spread the word out of sheer love for what you’ve created.  (this is difficult for a lot of people to accomplish, but is ideal if you can make it happen)
  • Pay people to spread the word about your pages (SocialAdr is one service that does this very effectively)

Hopefully this post helps clear up a bit of the misinformation that’s out there related to SEO, link building, and social media in particular.

1 comment for “Social Media Myths Debunked

  1. February 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    This is an excellent article. I often wonder about the multiple bookmarks from the same site such as digg or delicious and how they are viewed by the big three search engines. They must count as you say, because I have noted several from the same social sites when I do a back link check on each of the three.

    I think we all want a majority of DoFollow links, but you have hit the nail on the head when you state, “sites that have a healthy mix of doFollow/noFollow backlinks haven’t tried to “game” their rankings. It’s likely they obtained their publicity honestly and naturally”. Google should give two otherwise equal sites a higher rank with a “good” mix of these in my opinion.

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