According to an article in WebProNews, veteran Internet marketer Bruce Clay is predicting that ‘Likes’ will become the new ‘Links’. In other words, search engine algorithms will place a higher priority on social Likes instead of inbound links, but is that good?
In a way, yes. Clay makes a good point when he says that the list of sites that will rank at the top of the search engines will change overnight. He also makes a good point when he says that webmaster priorities will change from building bigger sites to building higher quality websites. But that’s only true on the short term. Long term, it won’t take long before ‘Likes’ get gamed as much as links.
I think Google and Bing already include some social media graphing in their ranking algorithms. How much, exactly, is anybody’s guess. But it’s quite possible that Google, if it could ever get its hands on Facebook data, could make Facebook ‘Likes’ a major part of its algorithm. If that happens, then I think you’ll see a mass shift from chasing links to chasing ‘Likes’. That won’t be good for the Web.
What that will effectively do for search engine optimization is create a circus. Rankings will then go to the websites whose owners can pay for the most ‘Likes’. ‘Likes’ will become currency in the same way that links are currency now, and Google will not be able to police those as effectively as they can now police links. That will be Facebook’s job. But how would Facebook approach it? Based on history, I’d say Facebook could be even more strict on ‘Like’ sellers than Google is on link sellers. Imagine having your profile and/or business page banned from Facebook forever.
Is that the way the Web is headed? I don’t know. If it is, then I say get ready for a ride because things are about to get interesting.