As the regular readers here know very well, I’m quite the techy and invest a lot of time in the social web and the web 2.0 landscape. Doing that, I realize we sometimes take things for granted, so to speak. We feel like YouTube or Facebook have been around for an eternity, but neither of them are more than 5 years old (or open to the public for that amount of time).
The web changes, fast and so does the world around us (which this video reminds us of). Many bloggers and web fanatics, see search engine optimization (SEO) as something holy. If you just figure out the right keywords, manipulate your site’s content in such a way so that the search spiders will crawl your site and give you high traffic rankings, then you’ll be successful.
One of the most important ways in which Google gives page rankings, is links! If your content is linked to often, then it’s worth more than content that is not talked about a lot. To Google, the only content more valuable than that is the content whose publishers will pay for to promote it. Basically, Google assumes that your content is worth talking about, based on the links. The problem that arises now however, is that Google’s becoming less and less able to track the links coming from the most valuable conversations: those on social networks.
Earlier I mentioned Facebook. If you click a link on Facebook, it sends you to the page with a nice and shiny Facebook bar above it. On Facebook a link to this post would look something like this:
Popular social bookmarking service Digg also does something similar. Actually, they’re worse, because Digg is actually hijacking traffic.
Probably the most common SEO killer is the Short URL. Services like TinyURL, Bit.ly, is.gd and tr.im make URLs shorter so they fit into the 140 characters that Twitter offers, or just so that long and ugly URLs look more elegant or are easier to paste somewhere (sometimes email clients tend to mess up really long URLs).
Where will this lead?
- Google’s PageRank algorhithm depends on determining what’s worth talking about.
- Google tracks this by the number of incoming links and their weight.
- Short URLs are becoming increasingly popular, making it increasingly difficult for Google to track what’s worth talking about.
- As Google starts having trouble determining what’s worth talking about, people will start using other ways to search for relevant content.
Half the time I’m looking for something, I use Twitter’s search engine. Why? Well, it’s time relevant, personal, let’s you interact with those that share the content and it can reveal trends. Twitter’s engine is still a bit basic and I expect to see some marvellous services that will start rivalling Google in the coming years. OneRiot could be such an engine. Maybe it will be Friendfeed if they reach critical mass so that Friendfeed will not be just for techies anymore.
What do you think? Will social networks mean the death of SEO as we know it? What is SEO anno 2009 and what will it be five years from now? What role will social media play in this?
Share this story on Twitter or Facebook! Here’s the short URL: http://bit.ly/QJ4u0