Social Signals and Algorithm Changes – Industry Dependent?

During my rabid consumption of SEO knowledge in the form of podcasts, webinars, and blog posts, I’ve come to the conclusion they’re all wrong.

Not entirely, and not necessarily individually. But as a whole, if you combine all the suggestions & theories, they’re very one-size-fits all. I hear over and over again “social is important,” “You gotta build a Facebook community of thousands of followers around your brand,” “keywords in the URL are on the out,” “get your url tweeted & re-tweeted.”

From what I’ve seen in the moving industry, these are not true for everyone. Domain matched URLs are still gold for spammy moving lead-generators.

Google Results for Los Angeles Movers

And for a product you use once every few years, brand recognition and community involvement are next to impossible to create without being annoying to your customers. I’m not saying it’s impossible – I consider it one of my most exciting challenges to create an active/interested Facebook community (we’re not there yet, but it’s a goal – moving can be a pretty boring social subject).

All I’m saying is, if Google’s goal is to write an algorithm that accurately picks and chooses which sites to rank vs. others, I think we have to consider that part of the math might be to include a “relative” factor.

Small Bridge Relative to the Photographer
The bridge is small and unimportant relative to the photographer, providing him no support or use. Credit michaelnpatterson

If you’re not standing on the bridge above, it’s relatively unimportant to you. Google treats ranking factors the same way – if a group or industry of sites is far from using social in their niche, then Google counts social a relatively unimportant factor to that niche. For example, if 9 out of 10 moving company websites have no Facebook page, 32 Twitter followers, and an all but abandoned blog, the Google algo wouldn’t weigh social factors as heavily in ranking those moving company sites as it does in, say, the tech industry. In other words, if 90% of the industry doesn’t have any data for “algorithm factor #174”, let’s say tweeted links, then it’d be a low “relative” factor. Which would fly in the face of what every SEO authority out there is saying about the importance of tweeted links. Sounds crazy, but Google has to have a way to compare related sites to each other using fair metrics relative to that industry or web category. A one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t work across the web, and isn’t very Google-like. Their solutions are often exceedingly more complex.

So at the end of the day, go ahead and get your site tweeted about and build a Facebook community. But check your competition, watch your industry. Are you competing in an industry where your competition doesn’t even know what a +1 button is? Are you the only one struggling to produce an interesting blog about carrot peelers? The algo for your niche might not care if you slow your posting from two lame forced posts a day to 1 helpful, entertaining carrot peeling post every couple weeks. Go get some links, tweak and perfect your site’s internal linking. Think through how Google is measuring your competition and which factors are showing up across every competitor site. Dominate those ranking factors, and you’ll have the competitive edge. Then you can go tweet yourself.

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