Moz’s founder and SEO expert Rand Fishkin has coined an expression to describe the virtuous circle generated by a good content marketing strategy: the Inbound marketing flywheel, which we’ve previously covered on this blog. Why are we referring to it again? Because in one of his recent videos, Rand has come up with a new, important warning you should know about if you want your content strategy to succeed.
Let’s first refresh our basics: in his Platzi class on SEO, Rand described the great dynamics of creating relevant content, promoting it to people who could amplify it, attracting new visitors, earning more followers and some linkbacks, eventually growing our potential audience and improving our ranking as a result.
As much as we’d like it to, the link building part of the above-mentioned flywheel doesn’t happen by magic. This is where Rand’s recommendation comes in: you shouldn’t rely on social media as your primary link driver (let alone your only one). Here’s a short summary of his reasoning:
##Lessons from the 1 min link study
A study conducted by BuzzSumo and Moz led to a telling observation: among a million articles, 75% didn’t get shared at all, while the top 25% received a lot of both shares and links. In other words, shares and links were very concentrated, and the majority of articles didn’t get any.
Perhaps more importantly, the correlation between links and shares was insignificant. This was true for all social platforms, Rand pointed out; for instance, the ratio for Facebook (0.0221) was as low as for Twitter (0.0281).
##No SEO without link building
This doesn’t mean we should stop caring about links and focus only on social sharing, even though links matter less to search algorithms than they used to a few years ago. No matter what others may say, Rand is adamant that we won’t rank well on Google without links, which means that we still need to have a link building strategy.
His theory is that Google was honest when they told us they didn’t look at social shares to determine ranking; what they look at is engagement. It is not the same, since some people share articles they haven’t finished reading or sites they haven’t even visited to evaluate if the content was good or not and everyone does that sometimes! In that context, it is easy to get that social shares aren’t a very reliable indicator of engagement, and links still matter.
Here is the full video of Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday on this topic:
In case you missed Rand’s Platzi, you can watch it here.