Metrics-200x120Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, Technorati – social media tools are swarming the net, becoming the main way to get in touch, keep in touch, socialize and monetize.

On places like Twitter, individuals and businesses alike have begun posting links to their blogs, sites and articles.  LinkedIn has a way to plug into your blog so once you post, it shows on your LinkedIn profile.  With Digg you can have a link back to an article on your site, or on an article directory, etc.  In other words, you can have a website, a blog and ten social media accounts, and have them all leading to each other.

The question arises, however: does all this do any good for search engine optimization?  And if it does, how much good does it do?

In reality, social media is just another part of marketing.  One of the reasons why so many businesses use the social media tools is because they realized very quickly that these tools give them the ability to talk to their customers.  In addition, these tools allow business individuals to reach likeminded professionals, make business contacts and any other kind of socializing you can imagine.

All this socializing does have some benefits for optimization, but perhaps not in the way you think it does.  Thousands of people post links on Twitter, for example, thinking that these posts will link back to their site, and raise PageRank and search engine results positioning.  However, Twitter specifically has a “no follow” for your links, which means that the search engine crawlers won’t follow the link back to your site; in other words, the links themselves have no optimization value.

Now, people are selling eBooks on how to gain followers and whatnot, pushing all the benefits and making the buyers think this book will grow their business, but how does social media work for site optimization, PageRank and SERPs?

1.    You post your links.
2.    People (not search engines) follow those links and read what you’ve written/posted.
3.    Of those people who liked your post/article/idea, some will talk about it and add a link to your site where the information is.
4.    The new links will generally have a “follow all” tag, telling the crawlers to follow them.
5.    Those inbound links will bring in organic traffic and add authority to your site, which, in turn, will raise your search engine result positioning and PageRank.

All in all, social media is like MLM (multi-level marketing):customer-service-marketing-strategy

You post ten links with no results on PageRank, placement or anything else; you may as well have thrown them into the wide unknown.  However, five people read your links and re-post (or link back) to those ten posts, and you now have fifty (free!) back links (not reciprocal!) leading to your site.  Five other people find those re-posts and re-post again – 250 back links, plus the original 50, adds up to a whopping 300 links leading back to your site.

All those links will normally be posted on sites relevant to your site, which gives your site authority, which raises your PageRank.  All that traffic and the resulting commentary can raise your positioning in the SERPS.

So – while social media in and of itself isn’t that helpful with SEO, the resulting links are.  How do you get people to repost, comment and write about your site, article, blog, etc?  That’s another blog entirely!