Yahoo is posting a series of "how-to" articles for social media on the company's advertising blog. Interestingly enough, the subject of the latest edition is "How to Dominate Search Results Through Social Media Sites," and the example Yahoo's Laura Lippay points to as how to do it is Matt Cutts, who of course works for Yahoo's chief rival, Google.
Ironically, Lippay talked to us last summer about "the secret" to outranking your competitors:
She looks at a sample of Yahoo's search results for the query, "Matt Cutts":
"Not only does Matt's own blog appear at the top of the page, but he also dominates the results with his likeness on several sites, including Wikipedia, Twitter, Blippy and Facebook.," says Lippay. "Although not everyone can have their own page on Wikipedia, social networks like the ones that Cutts appears on are prime examples of how you can dominate search results for your name or brand."
"As websites gain search engines’ trust and rise in importance over time the way social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and others have been doing, they tend to rank well in search results," adds Laura. "Try creating (and maintaining when possible) profiles on other sites like MySpace, Squidoo, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr or any number of social sites that make public profiles available to search engines. Search engines will often show image or video thumbnails from some of these sites in search results as well, which generally evokes more click-throughs. All of these pages with your name or your brand could end up in front of prospective clients or any searchers looking for you or your company. "
First of all, I'm not criticizing Lippay for pointing to how the employee of a rival is doing things right. Frankly, Cutts does make for a pretty good example of her point (Lippay herself also has a decent amount of profiles showing up in a search for her own name as well), and neither Google nore Yahoo is really in the business of SEO, so the the point is fairly moot.
The post did lead me to compare the Yahoo results with Google's results for "matt cutts" which may or may not have been intended. While it's certainly a matter of opinion, I have to say, Yahoo actually provides the more relevant results in this particular example, which is interesting, considering the query is for a Google guy. Personalization features could possibly be involved, but I don’t see why they would keep a Facebook result out of the mix, especially considering I’m Facebook friends with Cutts.
As a matter of fact, I wrote about a relevance issue I found with this exact query not too long ago - I found that when I searched for "matt cutts", Google's personalized results (the starred results feature in particular) were pushing down the more relevant results.
Looking at the results for the query again, I'm not even seeing Matt's Facebook profile. To Laura's point about "trust and rise in importance" with regards to sites like Facebook (it recently surpassed Google as the most-visited site in a week's time, mind you), it's interesting that his Facebook profile wouldn't be anywhere near the top of the results. In fact, it's not even in the first ten pages. On Yahoo it's in the top 3 or 4.
Granted, on Google, all I would have to do to find him on Facebook would be search for "Matt Cutts, Facebook profile", but without the result in a search for just "matt cutts", Google is telling me that this is more relevant, not to mention the starred results and all the rest.
So, this tells me a few things:
1. A Facebook profile doesn't necessarily equal relevance in Google
2. Google's results are not always more relevant than the other search engines (not that this is startling revelation)
3. Lippay's advice is still good. The results for the Cutts query on Google still do return his blog, his Wikipedia page, his Twitter account, his FriendFeed account, etc. Cutts is still in pretty good shape on Google results for his name, as far as dominating the results.
I'm not sure I have one particular point to all of this, I'm sorry to say. I just thought it was interesting that: a. Yahoo would point to how a Googler does things and b. Yahoo has better results for that Googler (in my opinion). Just observations (it’s probably not going to make me use Google any less). Lippay's own point about dominating results for your name/brand is worth paying attention to anyway.
By the way, as Lippay notes, just creating your social profiles may not be enough. You probably don't want to dominate the search results with a bunch of profiles that aren't up to date or offering something of value to users.