The Web 2.0 concepts are responsible for the development of web based communities including, but not limited to social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), wikis, blogs, video sharing, subscriptions, partner link exchanges, and other interactive websites. The development of these applications has far reaching implications for search engine optimization; specifically in the areas of content and inbound partner link acquisition.
Search Engine Rank – Search engines determine rank based on numerous factors which can be broken down into two categories; content and inbound partner links
- Content – Includes non-visible titles and visible headings, body text, and footers. The amount of content must be carefully controlled so that there is enough to be effective for specific terms, but not so much as the search engine will asses a penalty. Every page in a website has the potential to appear in a search engine result.
- Inbound Partner Links – Every inbound partner link is a “vote” for the site. Not all votes have the same weight. The best links are from relevant, popular websites. Relevancy is based solely on the internal content of the site, and most specifically of the page where the link appears. Popularity is based solely on inbound partner links. Traffic is NEVER a consideration when determining rank. The measure of popularity is known as page rank and it is based on a simple formula that takes into account the page rank of all sites providing inbound partner links (as well as other factors such as the number of outbound links on the page).
Search Engine Optimization Implications of Web 2.0 – The relative effect of various Web 2.0 constructs is determined by examining their impact on internal content and most importantly inbound partner links.
- Internal Blogs – Blogs within a site not only make the site more attractive to web visitors (thus enhancing conversion and subscription rate), but also contribute to rank by adding additional relevant content to a site, and making the site more attractive for other webmasters in the community. The end result is more “votes” (inbound partner links) from relevant sites.
- External Blogs – These blogs are found on other websites. An individual blog has a limited number of topics and significant relevant content for each topic. These blogs appear to the search engines as “authorities” on the subject. The better the content is, the more other webmasters link to it, and the better the popularity of the site (rank). However, for external blogs to contribute to the page rank of your site there must be outbound links to specific pages in your site. Each outbound link contributes. The more links there are, the better, but the format of these links is a factor in determining the impact of the link.
- Wikis – Wikis are typically manually updated sites that include content provided by many contributors. However, there are also automated Wikis that typically create directories by fetching a search result and then parsing and reformatting the data. Typically with a link back to the site where the information was found. Whether manual or automated, Wikis are unique as they rely on existing rank, but also provide valuable inbound partner links (further enhancing rank). The better a site ranks for specific phrases, the more likely the automated Wiki will find it or an author will find it using a search engine. Just like blogs, Wikis contain highly relevant content and can have very good popularity (once again determined by inbound partner links).
- Video Sharing – Not all Web 2.0 constructs contribute as clearly to rank. Video sharing sites typically have very attractive content and thus have good popularity. Unfortunately, many have little of no relevant text content and the value of inbound links from these sites is diminished. Videos appearing on a site contribute very little to rank, but can certainly improve conversion rate. They become more valuable when other webmasters link to the pages they appear on (one more source of inbound partner links).
- Subscriptions – Subscriptions to blogs or newsletters are also difficult to quantify. If the newsletters appear as an archive on the website, they certainly add additional relevant content to the website. Emails have no effect on page rank, but can produce exceptional value if the recipient in turn publishes all or a portion of the newsletter on their site with a corresponding link back to your site. These newsletters often result in valuable link partnerships with additional relevant websites.
Summary – The concepts described in Web 2.0 can certainly enhance page rank and subsequently improve traffic, but without compelling relevant internal content, the additional traffic is wasted because of poor conversion rates.
SEO is critical for building sustained organic search engine ranks, but usability and clever design are required to create a reasonable ROI for your web presence.
SEO and Web 2.0 – Telehouse Boot Camp Video Presentation – May 2009
Disclaimer: Any statements specifically related to Google and its workings are the personal opinion of the presenter based on various observations.