Leveraging Events, Twitter, and Google QDF
March 24, 2010
Twitter is a great marketing platform with many uses: brand management, professional networking, and others. It biggest use as a marketing platform, however, is likely traffic generation. There are many ways to do this, some of which are very ineffective while other are monumentally effective.
On the no-value-added side of the spectrum: follow as many people as you can, hope that they follow you, and insert contextual links in tweets which will cause your followers to click on the links. If you have been a Twitter user for a sustained period of time, you have seen these people who are paid a pittance to post links in their generally “spammy” tweets. For the most part, people who use Twitter to both tweet and read tweets will quickly unfollow these users.
On the value-added side of the spectrum: cultivate a loyal following of Twitter users and tweet about interesting subjects in a substantive, value-adding manner. If they find your tweets worthwhile and interesting, they may visit the links and even retweet. When you are trying to promote content that you are marketing, your followers will hopefully do the same thing. In contrast to the “spammy” Twitter user and his/her tweets, this use of Twitter requires both time, effort, and thought to create both interesting tweets and content.
The one thing to note, however, is that both of these use patterns do not, generally, increase a site’s PageRank and thus increase the site’s search engine results page (SERP) position. However, there is one nuanced way to capitalize on the value-added use pattern in order to increase a site’s rank on the SERP and it involves Google’s Query Demand’s Freshness algorithm. Further, this usage is completely white-hat SEO and likely the kind of usage that Google would like to encourage.
Query Demands Freshness (QDF)
Google has modified their traditional search algorithm to take into account spikes in real-time communications. For example, during the Superbowl if there is a great advertisement by an unknown company that previously ranked relatively low in the SERP, but a large number of users start tweeting about the advertisement, Google’s QDF algorithm will be triggered and Google will rely less on traditional PageRank-associated factors and more on links that are listed in the quality tweets regarding the company. As such, the company’s site will immediately appear higher on the SERP for keywords in the tweets, at least temporarily.
But how can companies without SuperBowl-sized ad budgets take advantage of QDF? Well, the SuperBowl is the most extreme case and much smaller spikes in tweets can actually trigger QDF. As to how much smaller, no one outside of Google likely knows, but in order to take advantage of a spike in traffic you do not need to be the cause of the spike in traffic; rather, you can ride on somebody else’s coattails.
For example, if there is an event occurring, that already has a flurry of Twitter activity about a topic that you would like to associate with a site you are marketing, you can tweet a single link to a substantive post on that site your are marketing along with the keywords that you are targeting. If have built a loyal following of people that will be interested in the subject of your tweet and those people retweet, there is a good possibility that your site will increase in the organic SERP rankings, at least temporarily. There is an interesting, real-life case study on the triggering of QDF because of smaller events that can be found at: http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2009/02/example-of-google-qdf-algorithm-in-action.html.
But What about Spammers?
Can’t spammers utilize this technique? Possibly, but they cannot likely do it without some very substantial effort. Although this is all conjecture, it seems reasonably that Google has developed algorithmic means to filter out those Twitter users that are spammers. They may even have developed a ranking system that allocates authority to Twitter users based upon activity, the number of followers, tweet contents, tweet quality, an others. (Hmm, this sounds a lot like what they do for web pages in general!) Further, Google will also likely run the linked-to site through an algorithm to determine if it is a “spammy” site. As such, unless those spammers have access to Twitter accounts with substantial authority and they then tweet links to sites that are not “spammy,” those tweets will not likely be effective at increasing the organic SERP position of the linked-to site.
It’s Only Temporary Right?
The jury is still out on that one, but there are likely some very reasonable scenarios in which an increase in a site’s SERP position will cause sites with authority and related content to link to that site. Moreover, isn’t the possible payoff worth a gamble?
[Note: the information discussed in this posting is not based upon published studies and/or statistics, but is rather based upon experience and theory.]