If news organizations or journalists are still looking for a reason to devote resources to social media, Microsoft’s deal with Twitter shows how an investment in social media could return better search engine results.
Let’s take U2’s streamed concert at the Rose Bowl for an example. Using Bing’s twitter search to look for Rose Bowl brings up four recent tweets and a list of “Top links shared in Tweets about Rose Bowl.” I won’t go into the Bing search algorithm, its results, or the fact that they are very different from results for the same query on TweetMeme, Twazzup or OneRiot.
The point is that a major search engine is now using information from Twitter to rank its listings. Sure, its sectioned off on the site right now, but if that section proves to return good results, why wouldn’t Microsoft consider integrating “Twitter juice” (the value that Twitter gives to a site) into their main search results?
We all know that search engines drive traffic to “newspaper” sites and blogs. If those engines start integrating data from social networks into their main search results, it behooves every news organization and blogger to be active in social media if they hope to increase their rankings in search engines. Invest the time and get better search rankings in return.
Oh yeah, in case you missed it, Google is next.
Before the two-year-old echo chamber of Jeff Jarvis’ mantra “do what you do best and link to the rest,” and beside the concept of curation and aggregation as journalism, web experts outside of the news industry learned a long time ago that sending people away from your improves your search engine rankings and drives traffic back to your site.
Here are some tips from outside the news biz:
Hotel marketer and the link handshake: Linking to other sites is the first strategy that Lodging Interactive, a marketing agency for the hotel industry, names in its list of link building strategies for hoteliers: “If you want other people to link to you, extend your hand out first and link to theirs.”
Web designer and pre-reciprocation: In the About.com Guide to Web Design, Jennifer Kyrnin asks if you link to other web sites: “After all, most people are going to be much more inclined to link to you if you’ve already returned the favor.”
SEO trainer and blog attention: Linking to other blogs is one of SEO Book’s 101 ways to build link popularity: “Many bloggers also track who is linking to them or where their traffic comes from, so linking to them is an easy way to get noticed by some of them.”
Entrepreneur and newsletter branding: In Entrepreneur.com’s 10 cheap ways to build your brand, John Williams suggests starting a newsletter to keep you brand in front of customers: “Include your own articles and link to other pieces related to your industry.”
Blogger in the running: Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger — one the most powerful blogs in the world — probably says it best when he explains why linking to other blogs is critical: “If you’re blogging and not linking due to fear of competition, you may be surprised to find that you’re not even in the running.”
Photo from Stephen Mitchell via Flickr
Ben Parr created a nice guide to linking, entitled “Top 20 Ways to Share a Great Blog Post.” It is intended to help share any great blog post, but I fear that journalists, bloggers and marketers might misuse his advice to share their own blog posts. Don’t! Here is why:
Social media: Yes, share your posts on social platforms, but only as part of what you do on those sites. Blatant self-promotion is just as unappealing online as it is in real life. As Chris Brogan says, “I’m reaching out to shake your hand and you’re trying to put your tongue in my mouth.”
Via blog: Using a blog post to link to itself would just cause an infinite loop. You can create link-building campaigns, but leave that to the pros, or else you might inadvertently create a splog and wind up banned on some search engines.
Useful tools: Just because technology lets you share links across multiple platforms, doesn’t mean you should. Your professional connections on LinkedIn won’t benefit from knowing that you just listened to “Ice Ice Baby” on Last.fm. Share the right information with the appropriate group of friends.
Other ways to share: Don’t begin using the tools that Parr lists only so you can market your content. Your agenda will be obvious and your efforts will be blocked and/or moved to the spam folder.
While Peter Osnos’ argues that Google should pay newspapers, and Mark Potts calls that idea sheer idiocy, I’ve decided to tap my Delicious network of experts to help journalists leverage the power of search engines.
Why should you care? The Web Life of an Article graphically explains how a “well-written and well-optimized piece of content” reaches its audience.
How does one optimize content? Monica Wright offers 10 simple tips to help newsrooms “conquer” search engine optimization.
What does Google say? The web search leader debunks some myths and confirms some facts about how Google News works.
What about video? David Rich shows how to make a video “Google-friendly.” It’s the fourth bullet in his post about making online videos that work.
Who’s searching who? Mark Jackson explains some more advanced link research techniques that the help improve off-site SEO, links from other sites pointing to yours.
Do you employ other SEO techniques to help your content’s rank on Google. What other blog posts or articles have helped you understand SEO in the world of journalism. Please leave any helpful tips and links in the comments below.