ADOTAS – Facebook activity does not directly affect SEO, says Dr. Horst Joepen, CEO search analytics specialist Searchmetrics. However, the indirect effects — e.g., encouraging a blogger to write about your product — can be invaluable, hence why the company has added a Facebook activity index into version 5.8 of its cloud-based software. In addition, the solution offers weekly SEO analysis of the top 100 domain winners and losers.
We talked with Joepen about the upgraded Searchmetrics software, as well as got his opinions on Google Instant and full-page search previews currently being tested by Google.
ADOTAS: What makes a domain a winner vs. a loser?
JOEPEN: A good domain has been designed to be search-engine-friendly — if you got this right you have a chance to be a winner. If not, it will remain a looser, no matter what content or backlinks it gets. True winners in addition have to offer great and unique content and strong links pointing to their domain for the critical keywords. In other words, you need to get on-page optimization right for the (more powerful and relevant) off-page optimization to become effective.
What can publishers and SEO people learn from such data coming in on a weekly basis?
You will learn about competitors’ moves and be able to react quickly — sometimes even anticipate their moves. You can identify weak spots, paid search budget increases or campaign seasonality – all great competitive intelligence that helps you to get ahead and remain ahead.
Why are Facebook responses — comments, likes and shares — so important for SEO? Can you give an example of how search marketers can best use such data?
It is a common misunderstanding that Facebook has a direct impact for SEO. It does not. A Facebook “comment” or “like” does not result in a higher ranking for one or more keywords. Google doesn’t even see this.
However, good viral Facebook or Twitter streams will motivate for example bloggers to write about you and link to your domain. This is what is really relevant for SEO and why you want to monitor Facebook activities.
Aside from that, social media streams will drive traffic directly to your site (and result in more conversions/online revenue). It’s critical that you understand Facebook & Co. as a new online marketing channel with its own rules, rather than just thinking of something that can help with SEO.
Besides the Facebook and domain data, what will SEO professionals find most useful in the upgraded Searchmetrics suite?
They will find a much better, more accurate and frequently updated backlink database than MajesticSEO (users reported approximately 40% links that no longer exist). Also the weekly large keyword database which allows you to spot new competitors in your keyword field instantly is unique.
What are your feelings on Google Instant? Obviously you don’t believe it’s killed off SEO, but it’s certainly having an effect — what is the short-term and long-term fallout?
Short-term, it will drive more traffic to the more popular and therefore higher PPC priced keywords Google is suggesting while you type. It also is consuming enourmous additional bandwidth for search on the Internet. Eventually counter-effects like users migrating to Bing and bandwidth shortages will make Google to stop the instant rollout.
Google is testing previews of full pages in their search results. What are your thoughts?
Actually Bing has offered this functionality before — more on the search page, but some, not the full-page preview. [Google’s full-page preview] is a much more powerful feature, but will have a dramatic impact on click-through rates and traffic distribution on SERPS. Valuable content and user friendly pages would greatly benefit.
How can SEO professionals best take advantage of such a feature?
We recommend clients build pages with valuable content that look inviting in the page preview.