This is our third expanded post from our article on top 10 learnings about the hyperlocal digital publisher market over the past year. Our first learning was that search is a differentiator on these hyperlocal sites. Our second learning was that you should make your side door look as good as your front door. Our third learning is the benefits (and drawbacks) of leveraging social media to increase your audience.
We can’t stress this enough – backlinks is a major SEO ranking factor and proof of credibility. Additionally, time on site is another huge ranking factor. Social media platforms want you linking to them as much as possible and want as much content as they can get so users stay on their sites for longer periods of time. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that every new feature they roll out focuses on getting people on their sites for longer periods of time.
Local publishers need to view themselves as a platform themselves. The difference is their platform doesn’t need to rank worldwide, it just needs to rank in their own community. That means you want the same things that Facebook, Yelp and other platforms want – lots of users on your site, viewing as much content as possible.
When you post an article on Facebook or Twitter, pay close attention to the bounce rate of those articles. Our analysis has shown us that bounce rates for articles posted on social media can be as high as 90%. Those are not good users for you – they are not adding any SEO value (in fact, they may be hurting your SEO score since Google will see lots of quick bounces off your site), they are not viewing any ads or any other content on your site.
Also, be careful who you link to. Every outbound link you put in an article is valuable. I’ve had publishers tell me that they want to add outbound links as a service to their readers – fair enough. But do you measure how many people are clicking on those outbound links? If few people are clicking, it’s not all that valuable, and you’re giving away “link juice” by offering that outbound link. Better to link internally to other pages on your own site!
We recently wrote about the benefits of Top 10 lists to your site and readers. Regardless of your journalistic opinions of Top 10 lists, they are known to get shared and linked to at a high rate. If you can generate high quality backlinks to your own site by generating content like this, why not? And there’s lots of valuable Top 10 lists out there.
Bottom line – don’t be seduced by the “quick wins” of social media – it’s more than likely the win is more for them than you.