The most important factor for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is content. The second most important factor is links. Links are a vote of confidence in your website, and you always want links from relevant high quality websites back to your website. Or do you? At a webinar I attended, the speaker told us that we don’t want social media links to our websites.
She wasn’t talking about SEO. She was talking about using social media to engage prospective clients. Don’t link to your website from YouTube or Facebook, she told us, because those social media platforms want to keep people on their own websites. If we draw people away, they won’t show our posts to our followers, let alone to searchers, and we won’t get that engagement.
The external links policies
YouTube has an external links policy. It doesn’t say, “Don’t link out because we want to keep people at YouTube longer,” but it wouldn’t, would it? It actually says not to link to content that violates its policies.
They give an example: “A video featuring sexually themed content whose description says ‘click here to see what YouTube won’t allow!’ and contains a link to a pornographic site.”
Quite simply, they don’t want scalawags using workarounds to present rule-breaking content to their visitors. That seems reasonable to us.
Facebook doesn’t seem to have a general external links policy, but they announced that they would “lower the reach of posts containing links to low-quality web pages” back in 2017.
Again, that seems reasonable to us.
Whose goals are you paying attention to?
We did find some old rumors online claiming that Facebook would penalize posts with links, rather than posts linking to poor quality content. We did not see any actual evidence of this. We looked at insights for our stable of Facebook pages and saw widely varying levels of engagement, but no consistent pattern showing that links reduce reach or engagement.
So here’s the question: what is your goal for Facebook? Do you want people to visit your website and book an appointment? Do you think you’re going to get that result by asking people what they’ve been reading lately?
Not only does Facebook want to keep people at Facebook longer, they also want you to spend money on ads. Their algorithm focuses on friends and family in organic results, because people want to see posts from their friends and family more than they want to see posts from businesses…including businesses (like yours) that they love.
Facebook has been a pay to play platform for years. That’s how they make their money, and they get to make the rules.
But if your goals for your Facebook involvement have to do with actions people can take at your website, linking to your website is very important for you.
We could say the same thing for YouTube and any other social media platform.
Post a variety of posts and track reach and engagement. We’ll be very surprised if you find that the presence or absence of links is the deciding factor.
Disagree? Please share your views in the comments!