The Intersection Of SEO and Social Media

SEO + Social = Powerful Marketing

Search Engine Optimization and Social Media are two very different marketing channels that have complimentary effects on one another. In this article we’ll examine how to ensure that your SEO and Social Media strategies intersect to drive value.

Search Engine Optimization is all about getting your sites/properties/products to the top of Google’s (and the other engines) search results. The idea here is to save money on Pay Per Click advertising by optimizing your site so that Google thinks it’s the best result to satisfy a User’s query. Traffic acquired through SEO is very valuable, as many people completely eschew the paid results and only click on organic listings. The goal of SEO is to attract people that didn’t even know they were looking for you. Therefore, a page 1/top 10 listing for your keyword is vital!

Google’s algorithm to rank sites organically is built on links- the biggest single ranking factor for who ranks well is still “who links to your site”. However, since the beginning, Google has been battling people who do “link building”- that is, secure paid or unpaid back links to their sites rather than letting them happen organically. Links are easy to game; which is a problem for Google- it’s difficult to tell who earned their links and who bought them. Google considers buying links to be cheating their algorithm and heavily penalizes those it catches doing so, as 1800FLOWERS and JC Penney proved a few years back. All the signs point to Google wanting to replace links in the algorithm with some other form of endorsement- and that’s very likely social media.

We already saw one example of Google trying to add social proof to search results- for a while, if you had personalized search turned on you would see Search Engine Results Page listings with pictures of people you’d connected with through Google+ next to web pages they had “+1’ed”- Google+’s version of a Facebook Like:

seo and social screenshot

This was discontinued (the pictures of other users, anyway, due to privacy concerns) but it shows you how Google is thinking. Imagine if they could leverage all that Friend and Like data that Facebook has!

So how can you make sure you’re leveraging Social Media and SEO? There are two main areas to consider when it comes to Social Media: Social Reputation and Social Shares.

Social Reputation is a way of defining how “valuable” a social media account is. Anybody can create a new Twitter or Facebook account- but a quality account, meaning one that has a large number of well-regarded followers and a history of posting quality, relevant content. In order to cultivate this sort of presence, you must participate. Social media can be very time-consuming- we recommend a Social Media publishing schedule and setting aside some time just to “trawl” social networks. It’s important that you interact for a while before you pitch- the Internet is brutal about weeding out salespeople.

Social Shares– The search engines attempt to assign another quality score to your account based on how often the content you post is shared- if it’s getting shared, then it must be quality! By using Shares, Likes, Retweets, Repins, and other sharing statistics, the search engines can start to transition to social proof rather than back links- because +1’ing or Liking a page or ReTweeting a Tweet is the same process of endorsing the other site that a back link is. Not everyone has a website, but most have social media accounts, so it’s an egalitarian move. However, a link for now is more valuable precisely because of the amount of work it takes to get one.

To that end, make sure that the quality content you produce for SEO- which you should be doing, no matter what, as content marketing is the wave of the future- is easily shareable. Put social sharing buttons on your blog posts so that people can share them, and get them Liked and ReTweeted, to start getting that social proof. Ask people to share on social media, and ask them to Like, +1, and Pin your page. Make sure your website contains links to all your social media properties, and make sure that your Google+ About page includes links to as many of your properties as possible. Also, remember- if someone searches for your brand, they are likely to be served up one of your social media accounts right with the main website on the results page. Make sure your branding and messaging are unified! The other thing to remember is that Social Media sites are also search engines- so align your posts on social media with your keyword research.

As an aside, don’t give up on Google+! The industry has been tolling the death bell for the service for a while but client sites with optimized Google+ accounts are seeing great rewards.

It’s going to take time for Google to give up completely on links; and there are some other difficulties as well- for example, Twitter and Google’s on again, off again relationship makes it tough to rely on Tweets as a ranking factor, since Twitter could turn off the fire hose of Tweet data at any time…But the days when link building is a thing of the past are coming! Make sure your SEO and social media strategies are aligned and you’ll stay ahead of the game.

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