Bad news for spammers and link farmers.
Bruce Clay, renowned search engine optimization pundit, recently asserted at the 2010 PubCon conference, “Likes are the new links.” Just what does this mean, and more importantly, how does it affect your business’s search engine ranking?
Internet search engines began with good intentions and methodology. The more links you have, indicating that your website’s content was effective, the better your rankings in organic results. Over time, people have gradually been abusing this algorithm, striving for quantity of links and letting quality suffer. There became many roads and doorways to websites that simply did not deserve the attention of users.
Links bias search results, and the trust score of links are dropping. Link farmers and brokers will gladly sell you links, but they can even hurt your ranking because they are not trusted or meaningful.
Well the tides are turning as netizens catch on to these spammy tactics. Social media has fostered the growth and importance of site “likes”, recommendations and referrals. This form of sharing is far more valuable than unknown sources linking to you, and the community is likely to trust these likes over any other link.
Social sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been in cahoots with search engines Bing, Google and Yahoo in order to improve the search experience for web-goers. In the early stage, the “like” information and tweets would be integrated into search engine algorithms, making results more significant and valuable. In the near future, SEO will not be about who can buy most links, but rather who can earn them. You will need quality content on your website, because on-page SEO will soon make a comeback.
Bruce Clay thinks that in 6 months to a year from now, social referrals will be a major part of search algorithms, and we will notice a general shift toward improving quality of sites, not the size of sites.
And that, my friends, is what nature intended.
Might I just note: I wrote a strikingly similar blog post for Purple, Rock, Scissors. Just double-posting.