A year ago, Rand Fishkin estimated that Twitter would cannibalize the link graph. People were linking out less due to the arrival of Twitter, and due to the no-follow nature of their links, organic search results became tainted. Often times the best content would get few to no links even though it attracted hundreds of retweets, and as such, organic search results suffered.
Quietly, though, two little bastions of organic-search-result legend began rising in the darkness – Posterous and Tumblr. Similar to Twitter in that they allow short-form and ease-of-use blogging, they differ in that their links allow passage of value unbeknownst to the blue bird platform.
Both platforms are rapidly growing in size, and due to their increased popularity, the link graph is benefitting. It’s never been easier to share that you like a link or post, and now, there’s no need to create a specialized post to wrap the linkbaitable content – you currently have the ability to drop in the link on your Tumblr or Posterous page in the blink of an eye, and still not have it offset the experience of your blog.
Rise and Fall of the Link Graph
The search engine timeline has brought various ebs and flows in true algorithmic effectiveness. At Google’s inception in 1997, the algorithms were rather porous and thus didn’t efficiently conceptualize how search should be approached. As it entered an immediate stage of development and was more accurately reaching a level of accurate assessment of the link graph, Twitter debuted.
As growth spiked, Twitter began cannibalizing the link graph, creating disorientation of a rather efficient algorithm. This year has shown the first signs of Google accounting for Twitter’s presence on the web, with the arrival of real-time search and looming (and perhaps current) implementation of tweets in organic search results.
And sure enough, as Google began doing this, Tumblr and Posterous starting gaining some real steam, allowing the services to “take back” some of the link graph Twitter had been cannibalizing. Arriving back in the present, we see both of these microblogging units starting to power the web, offering positive substantiation for the future totality of the link graph.
These two microblogging platforms unfortunately still can’t account for the entire impact of Twitter, but they offer a strong lean towards positive development of an accurate, complete search experience.
The Link Graph’s Future
Combined with a strong (but not overwhelming) algorithmic strategy by Google to begin implementing tweets into the organic search results, there is a strong possibility of a “search utopia” being achieved, wherein the algorithm, and the outside forces that influence it, coalign to offer a comprehensive and accurate view of the web.
This is a great thing for all parties involved, as Google improves their user experience and makes more money, while we receive the benefits of an improved and efficient search engine.
And then, the Lord said – “let there be links”.