Most of us are familiar with the two key drivers of a typical search engine results page (SERP): relevancy and authority. Recently, however, things have changed a bit. Search engines have begun to incorporate social context into their search results and, as a result, the days when search engine optimization and social media marketing as two separate digital marketing strategies are over. The two techniques have become linked by sharing the same end goal of gaining a stronger web presence for brands.
Social search is an evolving term in which search engines factor a user’s social network (sometimes referred to as a social graph) into how search query results are displayed. With social search, content that has a social connection to you in some way becomes a priority. This connection could be someone you are linked to directly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc or content that has been shared by social influencers or experts.
Google Plus Your World
Early 2012 saw the unveiling of Google Plus Your World (check out this video), a special integration between Google search results and the Google Plus social community. When activated, content that has been shared or received a +1 by your Google network becomes a priority. Additionally, Google search results from different networks are mixed throughout your results based on relevance.
Bing Social Search
This newer contender in the search arena announced a new version of its search engine this summer. The entirely new layout integrates a searcher’s social network into the results displayed for a given query. The social results even include the ability to directly ask advice from your Facebook network and incorporates Twitter, Quora, and Foursquare into results. Additionally, Bing has tied the knot with Klout in a strategic partnership, a service which tracks and provides a numerical representation of an individual’s overall social media influence. Highly ranked influencers will appear in the “People Who Know” column along with their Klout data on any given search term.
Facebook Social Search
CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicated recently that he too could be entering the world of search with Facebook. He is interested in launching a social search platform powered by Facebook user activity. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook handles roughly 1 billion search queries per day. While most of these current searches are for individuals or company pages, the potential exists for inquiries related to specific questions, reviews or decision making.
Social + SEO
So, how do you get scooped up in social search results? Here are a few ways SEO and social media have become the perfect pair when helping you and your brand achieve online marketing goals.
While often times over looked, the fact remains that social media profiles are ranked on search engines, just as with any other content. This goes to show that establishing a presence on social networks is not only good for brand exposure, but it’s actually believed to be a part of the overall search algorithm.
What is more fresh than social content? Going beyond blogs, social media profiles with constant updates found on Twitter and Facebook are increasingly effective at grabbing the attention of search engines for your brand. Make it a rule of thumb to be consistent with your social media efforts and always focus on keywords as part of your overall social strategy.
There is a big push to produce quality content for your social channels. But keep in mind that you also need people to read it and ultimately (and most importantly) share it with others. Social media channels empower people to share your search engine optimized content at the click of a button across multiple channels improving your overall reach.
Most of us know one of the most important pieces of an effective SEO campaign is collecting quality and related incoming links. When you increase your brand’s exposure through social media channels, you’ll effortlessly increase your chances of getting your target audience to link back to your website filled with content. Post quality content that falls inline with their interests and demographics, and they’ll naturally want more.
What first pops to mind when the term “social media” is uttered? Usually, most people think of networks like Facebook and Twitter. Don’t leave the social power of blogs out of the loop! Guest blogging on a site with a considerable following can work wonders for brand exposure and SEO strategy. All it takes is one or two incoming links from that authoritative blog you’ve been following to boost your ranking considerably.
As you engage in link building activities, such as forum posting and blog commenting, remember to include links to your social media profiles. This demonstrates to others that your brand is the real deal and can support a sense of trust. Additionally, traffic spikes to your social profiles usually results in a boost of visits to your main website.
Sprinkling social media buttons throughout your site makes it effortless for visitors to connect with your brand and share your content (remember, the ultimate goal!). In terms of good SEO, having these social media buttons on your website shows search engines your brand is serious about its online presence and ultimately lends more credibility to your brand.
The days of SEO and social media marketing as two separate strategies are long gone and replaced with a beneficial friendship resulting in social search. Together the two disciplines create a much more powerful tool for brands striving toward online marketing goals by spreading their message and reaching success on the web.
Share examples of social media and SEO joining forces around the web below in the comments! What are your opinions of social search?
Photo by Dragonartz via CC License