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Social Media: the natural choice for inorganic traffic

Friday, 16 November 2007 — by

As a ‘blogger, the flow of traffic I receive is either ‘natural’ (web directories, search engines, other ‘blogs), or it’s from Social Media venues (StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit et cetera). But given how Social Media is maturing as a legitimate marketing method, why is the traffic it generates deemed unnatural?

Much has been said recently about the natural link growth of a ‘blog or website, and how the unnatural spiky surges in traffic to a ‘blog and the links they generate are less favourable than more gradual back-links:

“Dave Naylor hinted that he believed that Google is looking at how natural a site’s link growth profile looks like, and discounting many of the rapid growth spikes if they are not followed up by an increased baseline link growth rate.”

Assuming this is the case, I find this thinking highly hypocritical.

If so-called ‘linkbait’ is the tool of choice for seasoned marketeers, whipping up a frenzy around a service or a product to generate buzz, is that bad? Would it be preferable for these guys to buy banner adverts to drive web traffic instead?

Surely, if I piled a load of money into a Google AdWords campaign and generated the same amount of buzz, would I then be penalized by Google?

I very much doubt.

Natural linking selection

So if it is a question of generating quality back-links to your on-line marketing campaign — be it paid-for or driven by Social Media — let’s take this a step further, shall we?

If your ‘blog or website gets nothing more than a load of really low quality back-links, why would the likes of Google feel the need to hand-edit the article in question and knock it out of their index, or remove a PageRank point or two?

After all, links being the web currency of choice, poor quality back-links do not equate to a high ranking with any search engine, so the penalty is entirely self-regulating, surely?

And what if your on-line marketing campaign is a success? Chances are, you’ll start to generate incidental traffic to your content, probably driven by people sending emails to friends, family and colleagues, or from the main-stream media.

When this happens, the indicators are clear; the content behind your campaign is so strong it’s alive! Does that warrant being penalized? No, that would be very, very wrong.

The problem is, Social Media marketing does get penalized.

Patterns in Social Media

OK, so you have yourself an article, you think it’s great and you have a bunch of friends waiting in the wings, ready to submit and then vote on your content.

You choose your time, then flick the switch and wait. After the initial surge in traffic (probably friends of friends) the traffic dies off, pretty much across the board.

Why? Chances are the article you thought was great was barely average for everyone else. And the same rules apply to the marketeers, too.

This is Social Media democracy in action, baby! And you got the big thumbs down. As have I in the past, and more than once, too.

So how unnatural is natural selection? This is a brave new world, one of UGC (User-Generated Content) and democratized content.

I’ll say it again, just in case you didn’t hear me the first time: either Google doesn’t get Social Media, or Google is afraid of Social Media, and that can’t be a good thing…

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David Bradley → Friday, 16 November 2007 @ 19:14 BDT

It’s almost beyond doubt that Google is running scared from social media, we’re all spending far more time Powncing, Twittering, and Facing up to stuff than doing random searches. Of course, I say we, the numbers of web 2.0 enthusiasts are still relatively small compared to the great mass of people who have not only never heard of web 2.0 but haven’t heard of google either.

db

Wayne Smallman → Friday, 16 November 2007 @ 19:47 BDT

You’d expect Google to be the ones to untangle such issues so that they make sense, but they’re actually making matters worse with their double standards.

I’m worried about Google, because up until the last 3 months, I really did root for them. But now, I see Google telling people to do one thing while they do something else, which is at best confusing while at worst duplicitous…

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