The Role Social Media Plays In Crawling a Website

There have been many debates about the value social media plays in having content rank. While nothing has been definitively resolved, it has been shown to be beneficial in the short term. In this post I’d like to take a look at a different aspect: the impact social media has on crawling and indexing.

The goal is to get the spiders to come and to have laid out a predetermined trail for them to follow when they arrive..

Recently, I started working on a project with a largely abandoned blog. The blog had 2-3 posts on a weekly basis for a good amount of time but, since the posts weren’t written with actionable and measurable goals, it was difficult to gauge their effectiveness and ROI. After talking with the management, advertising, and editorial teams, we came up with an editorial plan, and their first new post in 6 months was published.

The post had minor outreach, got a small but noticeable amount of social activity (mostly Twitter), and generated 20 or so mid level links. There wasn’t any real change in rankings and only a small blip in traffic. But there was a spike in crawling, as you can see below:

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The follow up piece is scheduled this week, so I expect to see another spike once that data is processed in Google’s Webmaster Central.

Now the next question is how can a smart SEO use this to their advantage? The most obvious answer is for them to include links to new, modified, or otherwise important pages in their posts. Of course, this is a bit of a balancing act: too many commercial links and the users won’t like it; too few and there’s little for the spiders to find and explore. While links in the boilerplate and template part of the pages will get crawled, they won’t get as much interest as links in the main section. Depending on your goals, you can maximize that by temporarily using a template without sidebars. Another way to use this to your advantage is to link into Series posts or Predictive SEO pages. This will allow you to resurface older posts, updating those posts as needed.

The goal is to get the spiders to come and to have laid out a predetermined trail for them to follow when they arrive.

photo credit: BigStockPhoto/AFHUNTA

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