Improving Search Traffic … Using Social Media

by Jeff Quipp January 23rd, 2008 

Just a very quick post today, about a quick and simple technique to increase quality traffic to a site, while appeasing everyone in the social media space … the content creator, the social media themselves, and search engines.

This technique will:
a) generate more traffic for social media sites
b) make search results more user friendly
c) drive more 'quality' traffic to content creator sites … ie producers of quality content!

What you say … how can this be possible? Win-Win-Win scenarios are never possible, especially where social media and content creators are concerned … ask Marty?. Its almost a truism that social media converts extremely poorly. Surely you gest?

Win Win Partnership Cartoon
Image courtesy: Lapiana.org

The Problem:
Have you ever had a great post submitted to various social media, only to see the pages from the various social media rank in the search results above your own? Eg. here is of post of ours today, and we're actually appearing in position 6 below the fold. I'll refer to this as "grouped results".

Duplicate Appearances in Search Results

Kinda seems like overkill … doesn't it? Sure, someone finding the site in the search results will see your story … but sometimes 4 or 5 instances of exactly the same title tag (the grouped results). Not very friendly really. Yup … definitely overkill.

The Opportunity:
So, what if everyone was encouraged to change the title slightly for each social media its submitted to? For example, what if:

    a) the Digg submission was: Are Social Media Users Really Blinded by Group Think? Then, the piece on Digg may rank for 'social media users', 'social media group', 'social media think', etc.
    b) the Reddit submission was: Social Media – Are We All Just Followers Guided By Blind Faith?
    Then, the piece on Reddit may rank for 'social media followers', 'social media blind faith', etc.While the original piece ranks for 'social media sheep'.

The Benefits:
There would be many benefits … to all involved. I would argue its a win-win-win scenario. In particular;

    • a) the content piece would generate more traffic, and certainly more quality traffic, since the content now ranks for more 'long tail terms' … different titles on different sites enable that. I am not encouraging the submission of sub-standard content however!b) the additional search traffic is likely to create more business, since its highly qualified traffic … it is from search after all!

      c) so long as the content originator site also displays the "vote" buttons for the various social media, appearing in the search results for more terms increases the likelihood of receiving even more social media votes … increasing the likelihood of the piece going hot, and further increasing traffic levels.

      d) individually, the content piece is likely to generate slightly more traffic for the likes of Digg, Reddit, etc., as those site will now be the most direct link to the content in the search results (since the actual site will not appear for all the same terms). Done en mass, the piece is likely to generate much more traffic for Digg, Reddit, etc. … a win for the social media sites.
      e) by varying the titles, we are far less likely to see 'grouped results' for any keywords, which makes the search results appear more relevant and trustworthy.Again, changing the title and description per social media submission, is a win for search engines too. Though, maybe Matt Cutts would be kind enough to let us know in person?
  • 1) To the Site Owner:All in all, a tremendous win for content providers.

    2) To the Social Media Site:

    3) To the Search Engines Themselves:

So, my question question for all of you is this; how can we best encourage this behaviour as it is in the best interest of all involved?

Is it too presumptuous to provide alternative titles and descriptions at the bottom of each post?

What are your thoughts and ideas?

Just in case …
Alternative Titles :)
Title: Increasing Quality Traffic from Digg, Reddit, etc.

Title: Using Social Media … for Better Search Results

Title: Can Digg Help Me Get More Search Traffic?

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19 Responses to “Improving Search Traffic … Using Social Media”

  1. Andy Beard says:

    They are all fresh pages, and most will drop out of the results, and when link attribution kicks in, you will be at the top of the search.

    Sure it might be good to vary the title slightly, but if someone has crafted a specific title for their blog, they might have also intended that title to be used in social media for best effect.

    It is a tough call, I suppose down to the individual taste of the submitter to vary the title for the audience.

    It wouldn't be hard to automate things such that if someone uses a button on your blog, different titles are used for each site, or to arrange it with whoever is doing your submissions, but it is a lot of extra work.

    I do frequently change titles for Sphinn submissions

  2. Shana Albert says:

    Hmmmm…. very interesting, Jeff. I am curious as to what others think about this.

    By the way, I stumbled this post… with one of your pre-chosen alternative titles. ;-)

    Shana

  3. Jeff Quipp says:

    @ Andy … agreed most social media pages will drop out over time, but I'm guessing there are more benefits in the short term to doing so.

    I generally recraft titles too, especially on Sphinn. Problem is … on Digg, Stumble, etc often we're in such a hurry to be first, the titles we choose aren't ideal. I've been beaten to the punch too many times. If they were provided and ready made … better chance of success for the post.

  4. Jeff Quipp says:

    @ Shana … thanks! I'm really interested too to hear the thoughts and opinions of others. Seems reasonable to me, but …

  5. Matt Ridout says:

    Love the post Jeff, I too have noticed this.

    I am going to slightly disagree with Andy (ahh what am I doing!)Having different descriptions would offer a wider visibility to the post. I have also seen social bookmarks from Sphinn last well over a month in SE in strong positions – so I would say its worth doing.

  6. The "problem" of too many listings pointing to my page is one I enjoy having. But you bring up a good point about varying titles. What can it hurt? If you include a few more key concepts, it should have a positive impact on results.

  7. First of all, the issues raised here by Jeff are at the very heart of how we now need to bridge the gap between social media and SEO to get the very best out of our 'blogs.

    "So, my question question for all of you is this; how can we best encourage this behaviour as it is in the best interest of all involved?"

    Secondly, the answer to that question really does go back to Jennifer's points in the article that Jeff is highlighting — who is going to be the thought leader that others look to?

    A fantastic subject, Jeff!

    BTW, I know I'm being lazy, but I posted this comment on Sphinn, too…

  8. Paula Hawk says:

    First I have to say I'm relatively new to all of this, but I have been playing around with all of the social sites out there for awhile. Just looking at these names, I see I am playing with the big boys (and girls, sorry Shana!) here, but I want to offer perhaps a newbie (or perhaps one of the real sheep's!) viewpoint…

    Many times I have been to Digg and found a preview of a post/news story/photo/whatever that I am really interested in checking into further only to find that when I click the link, I get the dreaded 404 or even that the site has crashed from the traffic generated. Some stories are interesting enough, that I have searched by using the title given in Digg, since I know that the Digg button will automatically assign the same name as the post to it's title. Of course, when I do this, I am also looking for the same originating site that is shown on Digg… Sometimes I search from the originating site itself, but when the main words in the title produces no results, I head over to Google.

    When the Digg title does not = the original post title, this becomes a major pain, and can even be frustrating if it is something you are really wanting to see.

    Now, I'm sure you are wondering how badly must I want to see this? Well, sometimes it is enough that I will temporarily bookmark a search, or leave a note on my desktop to remind myself to look later.

    I do understand the viewpoint of feeling as though others are stealing your thunder, especially seeing that the Sheep post ended up so far down on the list of search results. I think that other bloggers should take the time to rename their posts (this is something that I have not practiced in the past, but after reading this will certainly practice in the future!), but if it is just the common everyday person you are wanting to reach who may not necessarily already read your blog, I suggest leaving the titles the same on the social sites.

    Once again, please realize I am new to being a contributor and this is just a viewpoint of someone out in the general public… please don't hurt me! :)

  9. SpostareDuro says:

    I think leaving a post title suggestion certainly can't hurt.
    I am sure most of us want to respect the ones we follow and are following (I hope) by working with their wishes to do so.
    It will be touch and go of course..
    Just because an SEO has an optimized title in mind, doesn't necessarily mean that the social submitter sees it as the best way to secure the attention of the persons they are targetting within their personal friend networks..
    Al that said..I love the idea and think I may use this idea as well Jeff.
    Thans for juicy tip!
    Btw..I'm also going to do the 'lazy Sphinn comment' thing..

  10. TheMobiBlog says:

    Jeff, This was a very interesting post and I agree with the overkill, it will actually drive a user to not click or worse to click on more than 1 to see duplicate content and not stay very long..

    I will continue to follow this as it develops..
    G~

  11. Joy says:

    Excellent post Jeff!..The point that you raise is really interesting and hope every member of all social sites will follow your idea co'z for sure a lot of people will benefit from it.

  12. [...] Improving Search Traffic … Using Social Media Have you ever had a great post submitted to various social media, only to see the pages from the various social media rank in the search results above your own? Eg. here is of post of ours today, and we’re actually appearing in position 6 below the fold (tags: community networking Search Social) [...]

  13. James says:

    I can't see any reason you wouldn't do this, presuming you had the time to craft variations of your titles. It seems so obvious in retrospect.

    Personally, I prefer to avoid duplication in the SERPs. I think this helps to avoid creating any perceptions that you're a social media spammer.

  14. Utah SEO says:

    Ya, I guess it would be good to diversify your titles/headlines for each social media site. Another reason is, each social media site has a different audience that all responds differently to different types of articles. Appealing to them with different titles is just a smart thing to do and a win-win all around.

  15. Jeff Quipp says:

    @ Matt – I'm inclined to agree Matt … the benefits in the short term would seem to outweigh the costs, though ultimately it boils down to the keywords being targeted.

    @ Darren – thanks! It is a relatively simple concept with some great potential!

    @ Wayne – thanks Wayne. Bridging the gap between social media and search definitely offers loads of potential. This technique certainly is but a very small step, but at least its a step. Ultimately, my personal belief is the search results of many will be reordered based of the WOM of friends, using sites like Stumble, Delicious (not Digg though).

    @ Paula – I think you raise a great point Paula … no worries either … no violence or condemnations here. From my personal perspective, I don't think the 404 errors would occur with enough frequency to merit leaving the titles the same … though again that my personal preference.

    @ Kimberly (SpostareDuro) – thanks Kimberly … I kind like the idea too, and will do so when I submit your stuff.

    @ G (theMobiBlog) – thanks for the comment. Yeah, it really is overkill to see it in the serps. Accordingly, should help all involved :)

    @ Joy – thanks Joy … I sure hope people follow it too, especially when submitting material from our site :)

    @ James – I agree completely James … when it struck me I thought; how did I not see this before.

    @ Jordan (Utah SEO) – Really good point Jordan … most social media sites do target a different demographic, and would benefit from appropriate lingo.

  16. [...] submit socially but please don't give them my ranking..thank you! Suggested alt title: Know Your Competitors Easy blurb to help ya out: [...]

  17. [...] submit socially but please don't give them my ranking..thank you! Suggested alt title: Are We fighting a Losing Battle? Easy blurb to help [...]

  18. SEO Rob says:

    I will have to disagree with this.

    If 5 out of the 10 results on the first page of Google are ultimately traffic gateways to your site, you would indirectly control most of the traffic for that search term. If everyone submitted different titles, you would be left with 1 out of 10 links for that search term pointing to your site. Leaving you with a far less chance of getting the click.

    Not only would you get more traffic for your search term from Google, but I would guess that you would also get more people visiting those social sites and voting your article up (if it's good enough), thus increasing your traffic even further through from the social sites as well.

    Lastly (and the most selfish), I have enough to do during the day than to have to write separate title suggestions for my posts. :P

  19. claire stokoe says:

    I torn with this one and a little late to the table i admit. But reading it again, i actually don't agree with the mixed titles across the networks. I'd be pretty peeved if i had to sift around 10 titles per post, just to get through the duplicates.

    Maybe i have misunderstood this?

    claire