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Backlinks and Social Media: It’s All About Freshness

In our last blog post, we went over the basics of backlinks on social media. In essence, having a vibrant social media campaign is a big deal for getting backlinks to your law firm’s website. However, those backlinks that you accumulate on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter don’t actually count for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) score.

Here’s how these seemingly conflicting statements work in tandem.

Relevance and Importance and Time

Social Media Backlinks FreshnessAs a search engine, Google has customers that it wants to satisfy by giving them important and relevant results for whatever it is they are searching for. If successful, those customers will come back to Google in the future, giving Google web traffic that it then leverages to get more money in advertising revenue from other businesses.

This goal is complicated by the fact that what is important and relevant today is not the same thing that was important and relevant a week ago. Time matters.

Google’s Freshness Update

To keep up with the rapidly changing times of today’s world – and, therefore, the changing expectations of their customers – Google started using what it called the Freshness Update back in 2011. This update promotes information on the web that has only just been made live, and buries content that has been online for awhile and that has likely become stale in the meantime. You can see Google’s Freshness Update in action by searching, for example, “North Korea missile test”.

Many of the hits on the search engine results page (SERP) have time stamps, and the sites that rank well have time stamps within the past week, with some in the past day or even hour.

Ask yourself: How does Google do this?

Social Media’s Role in Determining Freshness

It looks at what’s going on in the world of social media.

When topics, stories, and individual posts get traction on social media, they get “liked,” “retweeted,” or shared. Google pays attention to these numbers, and reacts accordingly to them when it ranks pages for a given search query. When a topic or a specific webpage becomes popular on social media, Google’s Freshness Update boosts it in its results pages to bring it to their customers who are more likely to be looking for it than something similar, but older. However, what goes up, must come down: When that same topic or webpage stops trending on social media, it loses its ranking in search engines, as well.

This has important implications for your backlink strategy on social media, which we’ll delve into, in our next blog post.