October 31, 2016

How Embed Decay is Hurting Your Google Search Ranking

Almar Sheikh by Almar Sheikh

In the first wave of digital transformations, SEO was at the top of everyone’s priority list. Then came social… and Facebook quickly become the number one referrer of traffic to sites. Despite living in a social dominated news distribution era, you should certainly not discount Google and it’s importance as a referral source. In our pivot from SEO to social optimization, have we lost sight on important basics?

Make no mistake, Google is not sitting quietly by. AMP, Google’s initiative to speed up mobile load times, is once again increasing the importance of Google search rankings in a very big way. Outside of Facebook, Google is the most important platform for news discovery. With online revenues directly linked to site traffic, publishers should take note when there are clear, but fixable, issues hurting their search rankings.

One of the worst offenders, and certainly most unheard of, hurting your Google search ranking is social embed decay.

We found that 23% contained a social media embed, with each of these articles containing an average of three embeds per page. Whether politicians are tweeting controversial statements, or civilians are uploading videos depicting scenes from a protest, social media is a core pillar to modern news reporting. These pieces of social media can be great, original, storytelling assets, but they are not in your control and uploaders can very simply delete or modify this content. If you’ve embedded this content into the core narrative of your article, its deletion will result in a gaping hole in your story and the broken links will directly impact your Google search ranking.

As Google’s crawlers move through the web and index its entirety, it will take note of the broken links. A lower Google search ranking means less site traffic. Which, any way you spin it, has an impact on your bottom line. Not to mention a diminished user experience for your readers. After all, social distribution is another large portion of web traffic and readers are less likely to share an article missing pieces of key content.

So, what can you do to mitigate social embed decay? Well, simply put, scalable processes need to be in place. Using solutions like SAM, you can receive alerts each time a piece of embedded social content is deleted, or you can have a default setting allowing the tool to deal with decayed content automatically. No more unsightly “content unavailable” disclaimers, no more aesthetic breakdowns, and no more broken links!

Learn more about how we can help stop social embed decay from affecting your site by reaching out to us here.

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