For those of you who read my blog, you must have come across my post on SERP Sniffing. In short, I define SERP Sniffing as:
Utilising Gray / Blackhat techniques to research SERP weaknesses so as to exploit them for Whitehat Purposes.
The strategy entails creating hordes of auto gen content, launching it on SERPs, and capturing ranking and traffic data per keyword, which would justify creating content around that keyword(s) so as to legitimize the ranking, and or port it over to a new domain so as to capture an easy win. The other tactic is to use a lot of aggregated content to create the “look” of real data on some of these light weight pages. (content aggregation is quite a well used spam technique). Tools such as WP Robot do exactly that from a number of feeds and sources.
In my opinion Facebook is potentially running a cross between UGC Content Aggregation, third party Content Colation, SERP Sniffing and Automated SEO. Maybe not intentionally, but it is. These are Grayhat SEO techniques…
With 1.6 BILLION Results indexed, you expect to get a huge volume of long tail traffic from search engines, regardless of what anyone says. Let me show you a few examples…
Interesting – this is a common misspell, and ranks No. 4 on Google. Lets see what the correct spelling of the keyword ranks:
Hmm, not as high, but still page on at No. 7.
Good use of SEO Automation on the Meta description by the way:
Welcome to the Facebook Community Page about *add keyword*, a collection of shared knowledge concerning *add keyword*.
The “How” of Building This Content
A large portion of this content is autogenerated from your interests, and likes, which used to be static content:
“Profiles no longer are a static list of likes and interests. Now, they are a living map of all the connections that matter to you.”
Wowsers. So if I and a number of others add those interests (which was just static text before), FB goes off and creates a community page for me and others? What about completely random and related stuff, such as, oh I dont know, lets try “Reading and Horse Riding“:
Ahh. There it is. Ranking nicely at no. 4.
So how do those pages look like? Here are a couple:
So what is happening here? Leveraging UGC content to create a whole host of internal, anchor heavy, link profiles, which then link to a number of Community Pages:
On each Community Page, you’ll be able to learn more about a topic or an experience—whether it’s cooking or learning a new language—and see what your friends and others in the Facebook community are saying about this topic.
Of course, not ALL of these pages are blank, check this one out:
Note the use of “No Follow“(!) on external content, including original source. See those links I have added arrows to? yeah, those are Wikipedia Scrapped content pages.
Question: Why is Facebook recreating Wikipedia? If any other business did that…
Official Pages vs Facebook Community Pages
Ok so what is the big deal? So what if Facebook creates pages out of peoples likes and dislikes? Well, another problem is that trademarks and brands arent safe either
Check out the ranking for the Sookie Stackhouse Character, which HAS an official page (”community” so to speak). See the ranking when you append “Facebook” to the query? Note, you as the page creator have NO control over Facebooks content and c ode. So if tomorrow they decide to block all user created pages off search engines, who do you think will get an intant boost in SERPs? (I am not the only one who thinks that Facebook Community pages could be a nightmare for brands)
Should we be worried?
Yes. As I demonstrated above, the content is mostly Wikipedia rehashed, that is definitely being leveraged for SEO, however the longer term goal is to start fleshing these pages out manually (CONTENT FARM!!!):
Community Pages are still in beta, but our long-term goal is to make them the best collection of shared knowledge on a topic. We’re starting by showing Wikipedia information, but we’re also looking for people who are passionate about any of these topics to sign up to contribute to the Page. We’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help.
This in my opinion is EXACTLY how a number of SERP Spammers operate to occupy a number of niches.
Well Both Bing and Google confirmed that they use Social Ranking Signals. So these “likes” are counted as votes? Yes? Ahh cool.
The likes and votes that make up these so called “Community Pages” arent real likes. They are MENTIONS of a topic that Facebook is converting into a “like”. This is FORCED manipulation of their social graph, and NOT user “votes” as likes tend to be. One user quite interestingly points out:
Is This SEO?
Normally I would say maybe… however, as I showed in the Description Meta Automation above, it seems that this is aimed at Search Engines Users rather than Facebook Users – FB users DONT see Meta description.
Now apply all of this information on two factors:
- Facebook has already got a MASSIVE site authority.
- Google is using Facebook signals to rank content.
Update (More Data to Prove the Hypothesis)
Some people speculated that Facebook may lose out to the Farmer Update – however, looking at SEObooks highlighted SEMRush data, it seems untouched:
If you have a SEM Rush Login, you may want to play around with their data on Facebook Keywords.
- To start with, you better start reading up on Facebooks effect on the Open graph
- Read Danny’s Post on Social Ranking Signals
- Facebook is after Rich Snippets on SERPs too
- Facebook is ALSO (in case you forgot) after the same SERP share as that of Quora and Yahoo Answers).
- Dont forget they are after Groupon and other Locations Services too
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile