Anyone who has worked in search engine optimization (SEO) knows that 'link building' was one of the key methods of improving rankings for Web sites and publisher's content. As Google's algorithm awarded sites for this practice, sites found more ways to game the system. Today, no matter what side of the privacy issue you favor, Facebook's LIKE buttons are usurping Google's prominence in this space and are gaining more trust than search results.
In my previous post, "Social Media Morphs Into Semantic Web As Peoplelinks Replace Hyperlinks
," I sited social media guru Brian Solis' report that "peoplelinks" derived from clicking on LIKE buttons across the Web are building a fabric of personalized marketing based on the "choice words and sentiments shared by like-minded groups and influential people online."Bruce Clay
Even search industry vet Bruce Clay
whose company has spent the last year offering
SEO services for Web sites and content providers believes that "Likes are the new links." According to an interview he conducted with WebProNews,
Clay sees LIKES as new 'go-to' source for reliable discoverability and the focus of 'quantity of links' versus 'quality' has blinded a lot of folks into building an ecosystem of links that is biased.
In the first graphic novel about Facebook, "Facebucks and Dumb F*cks
" shows how Mark Zuckerberg (aka
Z-Man) reaches this epiphany when he instructs kidd millennium in how he will overtake Gobble (aka Google) using 'peoplelinks' versus Google's outdated hyperlinks.Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel
But just as easily as marketers learned to 'work' the Google search algorithms to their advantage, will they do the same with Facebook's LIKES. Instead of "Link Farms," might Facebook users start building "LIKE Farms" and engage in the practice of actually buying
LIKES. According to an AllFacebook
post, this activity already exists and Nick O'Neill cites several instances where this is happening. "Like farms are spamming Facebook with random quotes and phrases (e.g., LikeBunny
, and LikeItPage
) and will continue to proliferate until Facebook develops a system that determines which add value and which are just spam generators."
In May, Mashable's
CEO Pete Cashmore
pointed out that if "LIKES" surpass links as a way for one site to recommend content on another, than effectively Facebook will 'own' the Web."
So whether you categorize LIKES as 'social links' or 'peoplelinks,' the Open Graph
appears to be gaining traction over Google's old school SERPs (search engine result pages). Since LIKES can be tied back to a specific user, searchers of content can now determine whether a link is vetted by people they follow and trust.
However since Google and Facebook are rivals, and 'don't play nice together,' it would take a lot for Google to gain access to Facebook's social graph data to incorporate into their ranking algorithm. According to Clay, he thinks that "we're going to see that LIKES and referrals and recommendations (will cause) a general shift towards 'quality' of sites (not quantity)," and that Google's methodology will lose out to Facebook.
What do you think, readers? Is Facebook's optimization the new SEO of the next decade? And will the world look something like this in years to come? Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel