Social search, as defined by Wikipedia (everyone’s most trusted online source), is “a type of web search method that determines the relevance of search results by considering the interactions or contributions of users.” Some marketers have claimed that social search is doing away with traditional search methods and that SEO is dead in the water because of it.
But social media and social search are not the magic bullet to online marketing needs. They are just one more piece in the growing arsenal of Internet marketing tools available to SEO professionals. SEO and social media should not exist in separate silos, vying for online dominance. In fact, SEO and social media marketing can be intertwined to create more online brand presence for companies than they could ever do alone.
Here are 3 examples of how social media and SEO work together:
1. Social promotion of content generates natural links
According to Twitter, around 25% of all Tweets contain a URL. In March 2011, Twitter was seeing an average of 140 million Tweets per day. That’s 35 million Tweets every day with a link in them! Twitter has become a go-to source for breaking news and is a favorite social network among consumers for learning the latest about their favorite brands and companies. By publishing your content and promoting it on Twitter, you are encouraging your network to not only check out your content, but also pass the link along to their network in the form of a reTweet. The more times your content is shared, the better it looks in the eyes of the search engines.
When it comes to Facebook, many marketers will say that the more Likes your company page has, the better. While Likes are important, they are starting to be overshadowed by the number of Shares a piece of content has. Someone could Like your Facebook page in order to get a promotional deal. Plenty of them will unlike your page just as fast and never bother to return. So what is a Like really worth? When someone Shares your content by posting it to their Facebook wall, they are broadcasting to their network (and the search engines) that this content is valuable in some way, whether it be informative or just interesting. The recent Facebook-Bing integration pulls this information into the search results when a user conducts a search and affects the SERP based on what that user’s social network has to say.
2. Social networks drive traffic
If you want to drive traffic to your company blog, posting snippets of each new post to your Facebook wall and to the LinkedIn groups you are a part of is a great way to do just that. But posting the first paragraph and not the whole thing, visitors have to leave your Facebook page for your blog in order to finish reading the post. You have a much better chance at converting a visitor once they are on your blog or main site than when they are just sitting on your social profile. A well-optimized social profile should encourage visitors to check out the main site for more information. Think of your social profiles as the gateway into your site. Someone who is checking out your social profile has already pre-qualified themselves as a well-targeted consumer. Driving them to your site is the next logical step in getting them to convert.
One of the main goals of SEO is to drive targeted traffic. Social networking is about connecting with your audience. When the two work together you’ll see a steady stream of well-targeted and engaged visitors coming to your site.
It has to be mentioned that social profiles should drive traffic back to the main site, not the other way around! Why would you want a potential customer to leave your site to Like you on Facebook? Promoting your social profiles shouldn’t be a main goal of your site. Keep the “Connect with Us” buttons out of prime webpage real estate.
3. Social networking increases online brand presence
Search for your favorite company by name. Hopefully their company website ranks number one in the SERP, with popular internal pages filling out the first page. But chances are (if they are active in social media) their Facebook page and LinkedIn profile, along with other niche social networking sites, will also pepper the results. Just like any other business profile, social networking profiles can rank in the search engines, increasing your company’s online brand presence. Many searches will also show links that have been shared by that company’s Twitter profile or posted to their Facebook wall. The new Google +1 also shows who in your Google network recommends links.
Social media and SEO professionals shouldn’t be squabbling over whose authority and practice is more important. The two disciplines are more closely related than you might think. When you combine your SEO and social media marketing, you’ll create a much more powerful and comprehensive online marketing strategy.