Well, here we are again. Another day, another social channel killed off.
In this case, it’s Google+. In what some people find ironic, Google has decided to shutter their “social” platform after many years of extremely limited success in pushing it out to the world. It seems there was a data breach a while back, and Google never announced it or reported it. Which seems to be a bizarre issue all by itself. Yet where it’s more bizarre is that Google’s decision makers came up with the “solution” to just shut it down entirely. Wow.
To us, Google+ is just another in a long series of wild geese and lost opportunity for many. Well, not necessarily MANY. Some business owners, managers and marketers put in a lot of time and energy to it.
And yes, some of those people found value in participating in Google+.
Dr. Pete pointed out on Twitter how Google+ was helpful to some people, as long as they were realistic about that value potential. And he went on to say that the same can be applied to Facebook and just about any other channel.
Which brings us to the point that matters most. Understanding Value Limitations.
Social Media and SEO
Since we specialize in forensic SEO and our primary business is performing site audits with that in mind, we need to point out that social media, regardless of the platform, is, at best, secondary to overall SEO needs for most sites. You won’t get any direct ranking benefit from content you post to social channels. Instead, you can get INDIRECT benefits from them. People who find you or your content on social channels, can decide, if motivated, to click through to your site. Which is also true for inbound links from other web sites.
Except links from other web sites do, sometimes, provide direct SEO value. Links that are not given a “nofollow” attribute are, when trusted, able to pass PageRank to your site, which is one of hundreds of ranking factors. This is not true for links from social channels. No direct PageRank is generated that way.
Social Channels vs. Your Domain
One concept when looking at social media, from an SEO perspective, as well as an overall brand visibility and brand legacy perspective, has to do with the fact that while you can potentially reach a greater audience through social channels, you need to understand the limitations to that effort.
You don’t control social channels. Not the marketing efforts used to broadcast those channels overall, nor the way they work, function or behave. You don’t control overall editorial parameters on them. Or the type / presentation of granular analytics for activity within them specific to your presence. And of course, you don’t control the fate of social channels.
You do control ALL of those things on your own web site (if you have it set up properly). And longevity is a big one in that list.
So while there can be value in posting to social media, it’s extremely limited in regard to what you can and cannot do, or how long all the content you post over the years will even remain in place.
Social Media vs. Blog Consideration
Social media channels are an extreme short-term form of blogging. Here today gone in 10 seconds. So even when social channels stay alive for many years, ALL of the content you post to social channels has a VERY limited shelf life for readability.
While it’s true that people who are curious can go through your individual page to read older content, it’s RARE that people will do that unless they’re looking to dig up dirt on you or your business, or they’re doing some esoteric academic or journalistic research.
So while social media can be great for short-term boosting of visibility, it is, for the most part, short-term in the extreme.
Blog content, on the other hand, exists as long as you choose to keep it live on your own domain.
Blog content can include just about any type of multi-media you want to include in it, within only the limits of your hosting or technology environment.
Blog content is more likely to lead to site visitors spending more time on YOUR site, exploring OLDER blog posts when you provide intuitive, category separated linking into that older content.
Blog content DIRECTLY benefits SEO in ways social media can’t. So as long as your blog content is high quality, topically relevant to your business, and truly helpful to readers, it will gain its own visibility in organic search. And that alone will boost your site’s SEO value.
Then, blog content will, when set up properly, provide INTERNAL PageRank value through internal link flow.
Evergreen vs. Blog Content
The biggest opportunity, from a long-term value perspective comes from creating EVERGREEN content. Where blog content has more lasting value, and you have more control of it than social media posted content, even blog content becomes stale over time.
What starts out on the first page of your blog category listing pages, will, over time, end up on page 58. So the number of links internally, into older blog posts, increases. Which decreases the internal signal value for those posts.
Evergreen pages, on the other hand, start out with one specific URL and click path within site navigation, and remain there as long as you retain your site’s URL structure and organization. No changing. NO decrease in internal link value. We discuss the concept of evergreen vs. blog content more on our “Evergreen Content to Answer Important Questions” page.
Social Media’s Supporting Value
We are not advocating that you ONLY create content for your site. What we ARE advocating for is that you focus on your site for the most long-term value potential that brings. And when you can — where content is timeless, make it EVERGREEN content instead of blog content.
Then, whether you create evergreen content or blog content on YOUR site, use social channels to ELEVATE that. Promote it. Bring more visibility to it.
Just don’t ABUSE social media channels though. Don’t ONLY use it to push your site’s content, or your brand or your product / service business. Doing so is fundamentally COUNTER to the “social” aspect of social media.
So be helpful. Participate in dialogue. Engage others. Contribute without having to always get something tangible from that. Then, when appropriate, sure. Share links back to your own content on your site.
Primary Lesson — Understand Channel Value & Limits
The bottom line lesson in all of this — understand what the value and limits are for every channel you want or think you need to participate in. Determine where your own resource limitations can best be put to use to MAXIMIZE each channel’s individual value, and where they can support each other. Sometimes it will make sense to participate in channels that might disappear eventually, and sometimes it’s better to do so only in support of efforts on your own properties, where you have more control.