Social media!!! Rrrraaarrrr!!!

Since the dawn of search, SEO professionals have dreamed of controlling brand-related search results. Through the power of social media, I intend to do just that. I will wrest my name from the whims of the algorithms and take control of my own destiny.

The Hypothesis

By linking them together, social media profiles can be leveraged to gain a high degree of control over the search listings for a brand with low to moderate competition.

The Experiment

In order to prove my hypothesis, I will create an assortment of active social media and bookmarking profiles that are relevant for the term “Stephen Ward.” I will then link them together in such a way as to provide maximum ranking benefit for this term. If my hypothesis is correct, I should be able to achieve first-page rankings on Google for some or all of my profiles.

The Parts

For some parts of my social media Frankenstein monster, I’ve dug up old profiles that have gone unused for differing lengths of time. For others, I’ve harvested fresh profiles from unsuspecting websites. In every case, stimulation through organic participation and networking will ensure that they remain viable to the experiment’s conclusion. Here are the various parts that I’ve managed to piece together.

The Stitches

Links will be the stitches that hold my monster together. Unfortunately, linking between them in a way that is visible to search engines is a complex process. Some profiles allow you to place any number of links to other profiles in a way that search engines can easily index. Others allow only a certain number of links, or links that are not counted by search engines. Still others do not allow outbound linking at all. Taking all of these factors into account, here is how I pieced them together.

  • Delicious – As a bookmarking profile, adding links is really the point. I made sure that links to my blog and all of my profiles were the first to make it into my bookmarks.
  • Digg – Unlike Reddit, Digg allows any number of personal, customizable links in the About section of your profile.
  • DZone – Despite its nature as a niche social news site for developers, DZone is one of the few profiles that have been active prior to the experiment. It allows a single link back to your blog in the Information section of your profile. Additionally, many of my articles are relevant as submissions, so it serves my purposes nicely.
  • Facebook – It’s a shame that the most prominent social media network doesn’t allow external links that are visible to search engines. Still, no social media strategy would be complete without it.
  • LinkedIn – Like DZone, I’ve been active in LinkedIn for a long time now. Outbound linking here is a bit of a mix. You are allowed no more than three links in the Websites section of your profile. For practical reasons, two of these link to my blog and one to a company website. If one of my profiles begins to perform well, I might change one of these links to point to it instead.
  • MySpace – I’ve had a dormant profile on the much decried MySpace for some time. The good news is that it allows any amount of external linking. The bad news is that those links are sent through a redirection service. Still, they might provide some indirect juice.
  • Reddit – Short of egotistically voting up your own articles (which I don’t recommend), there’s no way to generate outbound links on a Reddit profile.
  • SEOmoz – Like DZone, SEOmoz serves as a strictly niche profile for my industry. It allows a single, no-followed external link in the About section. Fortunately, through community participation, it is possible to remove the nofollow. I will be working toward that goal in my activity on the site.
  • StumbleUpon – Like Delicious, linking is the whole point of StumbleUpon. However, because it can directly influence another user’s browsing experience, purely egotistical linking can be detrimental. I will be adding articles from my blog to StumbleUpon slowly and only as they become relevant so as not to draw the ire of the stumble brigades. For similar reasons, I won’t be adding my profiles at all.

The Lightning

This website already ranks well for the term “Stephen Ward” in Google. By instituting site-wide links out to all of my social media profiles in my side bar, I hope to generate enough juice to bring my monster to life. Since I have complete control over the coding on the site, I’ve made sure to add my name to the title attribute of each of these links to increase their relevancy.

It’s Alive…?

The parts have been assembled. The lightning has struck. Now we wait in the dark with rapt anticipation to see if my monster stirs to life. Will this hodgepodge of social media profiles suddenly lurch up in the search rankings? Or will they lie still and dormant, no more than the overhyped, underperforming dreams of a mad SEO specialist? Stay tuned for the conclusion to our grotesque tale.

Update 8/5/08: At the recommendation of my friend Adam Schultz, I’ve added Naymz to my social media roster and submitted Ward on the Web to BlogCatalog.

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