If you haven’t heard of Tumblr, you will. The pace that it’s currently growing is similar to (if not greater than) the type of growth that Twitter experienced 2 years ago. The blog/microblog/community hybrid social media site is well on its way to hitting the mainstream soon.
While its users and fans are often rabid, there is one entity that doesn’t give it much respect: Google. Search engines in general are frowning on ranking Tumblelogs well in their results pages because of Tumblr’s greatest strength: ease of content aggregation.
Simplicity, Thy Name is Tumblr
Anyone who has a Tumblr page can create 2 things extremely quickly: content and backlinks. One simply has to go through other Tumblr pages that the millions of users have created and click the “Reblog” button. They can add their own content to it in the form of notes, add tags, even adjust the URL. They also get a backlink from the source because whenever something is reblogged, a note with a link goes up at the source.
Assuming that most bypass the notes and tags, it is possible to place content on your Tumblelog and a backlink in approximately 4 seconds.
To put it into perspective, one of our clients currently runs 15 successful and content-rich Tumblelogs and spends less than 30 minutes a day keeping them maintained.
This simplicity is one of Tumblr’s greatest strengths, if not THE greatest, but…
… Google Doesn’t Like It
Anyone who optimizes sites for Google knows there are 2 things that hold the most value for rankings: content and backlinks.
Tumblelogs are set on subdomains of tumblr.com or on their own domains hosted by Tumblr. For most platforms, this is extremely useful in SEO as the search engines consider subdomains as their own unique website in many occasions. Blogger, a site that is owned by Google, has literally millions of subdomains that act as stand-alone websites where people can create theirblogname.blogspot.com and have that site rank well for their keywords.
Tumblr does not have that luxury. Somewhere along the lines, Google and the other search engines realized that it would be not only possible but encouraged by Tumblr and other people duplicate content and generate backlinks. As a result, it takes a lot more effort to get the search engines’ attention for stronger rankings.
Another factor that hurts Tumblr on the search engine is the lack of unique title tags for many of the pages. Those created as “Text” get the title of the story as the title tag, but pictures and videos share the same title tag as the homepage of their Tumblelog.
We are currently testing to see if this lack of respect from the search engines applies to outbound links. If the links are tainted in some way, Tumblr’s usefulness in optimizing other sites is also reduced compared to other platforms. We will see, as we have several test Tumblelogs running. When we know for sure, we’ll post the results here.
Does It Matter?
If you’re getting into Tumblr for SEO purposes to either achieve rankings directly or to use Tumblr as a linking tool, there are other similar free blogging and microblogging platforms that are superior.
If you’re getting into Tumblr because you want to share and find content, then Tumblr is ideal. The community aspect combined with the ease of use and maintenance make Tumblr a prime site through which to have fun, share, and network.
Does Tumblr matter? It all depends on how you want to use it.
Read more about Tumblr on this Social Media Blog.