The real reason small business should avoid Tumblr: search

In junior high, my school was beset by twin crazes for lace-up raffia sandals and sky-high bangs that took hours to prepare with a thick lacquer hairspray and a curling iron.

Even if I wasn’t deeply inept with burning hot hair appliances or the delicate art of balancing on platform heels, deep down something about the trend felt all wrong to me. I preferred the feel of doc martens and liked to wear long bangs in a fringe around myself.

Sometimes when I look around at the craze for Tumblr, I am reminded of those days, and the deep pressure to conform to what the supposed cool kids are doing. Businesses right and left are embracing the platform, often with the stated mission of “connecting with a built-in community.”

We’ve talked before about one major pitfall of using Tumblr for business before: the platform’s downtime. And never mind that Tumblr didn’t invent the concept of community or following.

The real reason business should flee from Tumblr is how disadvantaged the platform is in terms of showing up in the original “social media,” search.

Well, I found this Tumblr via google search

I noticed this first when checking out a few small companies and initiatives that I had heard about through the grapevine. Really cool people doing cool things that I think the world should know about. Type their names into Google and nothing comes up. If they’ve only set up a gateway via Tumblr, this is often the culprit.

I found this curious, so I set out to find out why.

When I teach SEO in my copywriting for the web class, I explain that a number of things influence search rankings, some of which we will never know, due to Google’s secrecy.  Soshable provides this insight on why Google doesn’t “like” Tumblr, as it were:

Tumblelogs are set on subdomains of 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 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.

I like things that foster and sustain community, so I have to admire Tumblr in some respects. And there certainly are some categories, like fashion, where the user base is so well established on Tumblr that it makes sense to maintain a presence there.

But establishing a gateway for your business on a platform that will disadvantage you from getting found in search? Something about that just feels wrong.

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