Social Media – When Will Google Crack Down?

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    Guest Author: Srinivas Sarathy

    There is no doubt that social media can and is being used by webmasters and SEO’s to improve rankings and drive traffic. And we are talking about real revenue producing traffic. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit among others are being used to spread buzz virally and ultimately to send positive social signals for the purpose of improving search engine rankings and drive targeted traffic.. That is great for webmasters, right? Of course, and some might say it is too good to be true.

    One might wonder if Google is taking a deeper look at social media, and how it impacts rankings. It is their goal to deliver the best search results to users, by whatever means they see necessary. Social media mentions are very much the flavor of the day for website authority signalling and have become a bigger player in search results.

    Remember SEO in the old days?

    Do not lose sight of what Google does when things are going too well. Remember when you could just optimize meta keywords and see your traffic rise instantly. Many less than scrupulous SEOs would even abuse keywords to rank totally off topic pages for high payout keywords. Of course it seems silly to think anyone could get away with that now. Google, and the other search engines of the time, cleaned that up once they really started to understand what was going.

    Then there was meta descriptions, h-tags, and page titles. A good SEO could tweak the three and in a matter days the traffic would come running. This approach worked really well for a while. Again, many would say too well. Alas, Google eventually tweaked algorithms and removed quite a bit of the effect.

    Next in line was offsite links. SEOs spent many hours building links or even went out and procured links. Rankings and the resulting traffic flowed pretty well to sites that were well linked. And as usual, Google put in updates that quickly minimized the value of these vast link networks.

    Now Social Media?

    Social media has moved in to the SEO realm over the last year or so. As with the other SEO tactics, it started small, with many SEO’s doubting the effectiveness at the beginning. Now you can buy followers openly. Not only can you buy followers, but you can actually buy social media mentions. It does not take much imagination to think of how Google feels about this.

    When Will the Other Shoe Drop?

    Call me a pessimist, but I truly believe the other shoe will drop eventually. Once things start going too well, Google will drop another update on us, and will minimize the impact of social media mentions. I don’t think it will happen too soon. But I feel very confident it will. It meets all the criteria. A tactic drives traffic. More people adopt the tactic. The everyone jumps on board. Then it works too well. Then Google puts out an update. Then everyone complains.

    I’m sure I am being a doomsayer. But I believe this will happen.

    Overall, I believe the webmasters and SEO’s who integrate social media tactics naturally and organically through creating buzz-worthy content will win overall in terms of SEO, however those who abuse this tactic I firmly believe will have their rankings hurt in the long run.

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    For more resources, see our Library topics Marketing and Social Networking.

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    About the Author:

    Srinivas Sarathy is a blogger and freelance writer who works with Interlink courier services. He talks on social media and the web.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Marketing and Social Media