While at the AAF-Topeka Social Media panel discussion, a panelist made a statement that wasn’t entirely true. “Links on social networks will get indexed and help with your rankings in Search Engines.”
Really, this is only half accurate. The text in the update you’ve made on your social network profile will be indexed, but the search engines will not follow the link and index the site you are linking to.
What exactly does this mean? Let’s use Twitter for example, the text and info in your “status update” will be indxed, but the search engine bot will not follow the URL you’ve linked to and index that site. Now you may ask, why even link to your websites in the first place? Even if Google doesn’t click the links, your friends will and it gets out usefully information they may not have seen otherwise.
I just want to touch on the power of your friends or followers, again using Twitter as an example, but it can also be said for Facebook and LinkedIn as well. When you update your status on Twitter, your followers will all have the chance to see it. Let’s say you have 1,000 followers, and each of them have 1,000 followers. If even one person ReTweets (RT) your post, it will have a chance to be seen by their 1,000 followers – new people that you don’t even know, and if one of them RT’s it… well, you can see where this is going. So if you have a catchy headline and good information, your single post can potentially be seen by several thousand people seconds after it’s been posted.
So how can I tell if these links will be followed by search engines or not? Look for an HTML attribute called the “no-follow” attribute. You can see this by highlighting a link, right clicking and viewing the source of the web page. If you don’t want to do that on every site you visit, install a toolbar add-on. I use an addon for Firefox called SeoQuake, (they also have an Internet Explorer version but I’ve never given it a try). I’ve been using SeoQuake for a couple years, and have even had the developer comment on our forums. SeoQuake has several options, but the one that deals with the no-follow tag is a strike-though. In other words, if the links has the no-follow tag, it will look like this.
Hopefully, I’ve cleared up some misconceptions about how you’re able to get traffic from search engine via your social networks. In honor of this blog post, I’ve disabled the no-follow tag on this blog. As you now know, that means the search engines will be able to find your website and crawl your URL if you link to it when leaving your comment.