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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting in on Stephan Mack and Dave Moser’s presentation about the value of LinkedIn links at a Pittsburgh SEO meeting.  He and his colleagues at EDMC did a study on the value of adding keyword rich anchor text links to your public  LinkedIn account.

7 EDMC employees, randomly chosen, added a link with the anchor text Design School and pointed the links at the Pittsburgh Art Institute.  According to the results of the study, the Art Institute’s rankings for this keyword jumped pretty significantly as a result of their efforts. Further proof the efficacy were the resulting slump in rankings at the termination of their test when the employees removed the links from their profiles.

It was a really interesting presentation. I was also presenting, so I couldn’t come up with any insightful questions or comments at the time, but the ideas and conclusions have had some time to marinate in my head for a while and I have some comments about linking from social media sites to share.

The Value of Links from Social Media Sites

There are many social media sites out there that, like LinkedIn, will transfer link juice out of their site such as Propeller, Digg, and Stumble Upon.  However, the only place they offer the do-follow links are in your personal profile pages.  These links are valuable in the sense that all do-follow inbound links are valuable, but don’t expect a link from a LinkedIn profile page or a Digg profile page to take care of all of your linking needs.

The domains as a whole are incredibly powerful, but the actual profile pages hardly have any demonstrable page rank. That means the link juice they pass on to you will be more like a dribble.  That is to say that link from your profile page on Digg will not carry nearly as much weight as a link from Digg’s home page (which, incidentally, are no follow.)

In other words, the homepage of Digg is like the Hawaii beachfront property of the internet.  It has huge value, but doesn’t pass that value along through do-follow links…which is how the page remains so powerful. The profile page is like the servant’s quarters that overlook the dumpsters.  They’re still technically on beachfront property, but it’s not as valuable as the big house… Now I’ll continue on before I trip over my own metaphors and kill myself.

Common Myths About Social Media

One of the most common myths about links from social media profile pages is that the number of people who connect to your profile page will raise the amount of link juice that is passed through your link.  This is simply untrue.  The amount of value passed through a link on a profile page is just like the amount of value passed through any other link on the web: only the strength of the profile page is the only measure of the worth of the link. That means that unless the amount of connections you have somehow raises the page rank and strength of your page, there is no difference between a profile page with one connection and a profile page with 1000 connections.

That’s not to say that the link won’t provide more TRAFFIC if you have more connections.  However, traffic and link juice should not be confused.

Another common misconception is that the strength of the whole domain will be passed through your profile link.  As we discussed before, only the page rank of the profile page dictates the amount of actual link juice value the link will pass on.

Twitter

What about Twitter you might ask.  The number of followers that you have on twitter does directly affect the page rank of your profile page.  Unfortunately, Twitter has all that PR to pass around because it does not allow link juice to flow out of ANY link on it’s domain. No matter where you link to from Twitter, you’re not getting any PR value to the site that you pointed the link to.  Sad, but true.

The Networking Benefit of Links on Social Networks

All talk of PR passing aside, social media links are incredibly beneficial whether they’re do-follow or not.  There are many aspects such as branding, popularity, and raw traffic that you have to take into consideration.  LinkedIn might pass minimum PR, and it might not matter how many connections you have from a link juice-passing perspective, but the number of connections you have does directly affect how much referral traffic you get from the site.  Same with Digg and any other social media site.  They can be veritable goldmines of free traffic if you play your cards right.

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