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Yes! Google does think your tags and diggs matter!

Submitted on 6/17/2008 by Max Thomas

We all know that Google ranks inbound links as a powerful “vote” for a website. We also accept, generally speaking, that the more quality inbound links a site has, then the higher its page rank, keyword rankings and resulting traffic. With the rise of social media, we are also learning that Google values the diggs, tags or votes a site receives on social media sites. Aside from just the inbound links, traffic spikes and “netizen” awareness that social media sites can generate, they also have a direct impact on Google rankings.

 

To illustrate this point, we’ve put together a real-word example comparing four established sites, all of which are in the flower retail space – Flora2000.com, 1800Flowers.com, ProFlowers.com and FTD.com :

PR Indexed/G Links Del.icio.us DMOZ Age Alexa
Flora2000.com 5 151,000 129,389 Total 17 1 Aug-00 94,241
59,958 Inbound
69,431 Internal
54% Int %
1800Flowers.com 7 2,780 605,700 Total 595 6 Dec-96 5,647
585,206 Inbound
20,494 Internal
3% Int %
ProFlowers.com 6 2,480 559,823 Total 249 2 Dec-98 7,791
548,042 Inbound
11,781 Internal

2%

Int %
FTD.com 7 11,500 150,659 Total 113 21 Apr-97 9,867
121,453 Inbound
29,206 Internal
19% Int %

Consider the following observations:

1) The highest traffic site is 1800Flowers which has 2,780 indexed pages on Google, which is a quarter of FTD.com ‘s 11,500 pages and a fraction of Flora’s 150,000 pages – yet, Flora has about 6% of 1800Flowers’ traffic. Clearly, something else besides the number of indexed pages is driving 1800Flowers’ traffic.

2) Inbound links – 1800Flowers has the highest number at 585,206, with ProFlowers next at 548,000, then FTD.com at 121,453, and finally Flora at 59,958. As we all know, inbound links drive page rank, search engine ranking and traffic.

3) Del.icio.us – this offers an indicator of how popular a site is among the social marketing sites. Why do we care?

From the Google patent – “Tagging of the blog document may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. Some existing sites allow users to add “tags” to (i.e., to “categorize”) a blog document. These custom categorizations are an indicator that an individual has evaluated the content of the blog document and determined that one or more categories appropriately describe its content, and as such are a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.”

As pointed out by Chris Lang in his excellent post on how Google ranks blogs, Google is definitely not just tracking the number of listings in social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.ico.us, etc. Google is tracking how many times a site is tagged, the tags that are used in the original submission and the quality of the user.

One can’t help but notice the positive correlation, above, between the number of Del.icio.us tags and each site’s popularity. 1800Flowers has a whopping 595 tags (and the most web traffic), while Pro has less than half at 249 tags (and just more than half the traffic of 1800) while FTD has 113 tags (and half the traffic of 1800); Flora shows only 17 tags, and is not even close to the traffic volume of the other three.

Given this example, to increase Flora’s page rank, keyword rankings and overall traffic…
1) increase inbound links
2) increase tags on social media sites

In fact, focusing on social media sites will satisfy both links and tags.

An additional tactic Flora2000 can utilize is optimize its internal linking structure for designated keywords. with 151,000 indexed pages, Flora2000 has an enormous number of pages which can be leveraged for strategic internal links. Even so, the inbound links and tagging needs to be there to create the overall lift in page rank, keyword rankings and traffic.

Observations, comments and different findings are welcomed!

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