At the recent 2012 SES San Francisco Conference Matt Cutts explained,
“Google wants as close to ideal rankings and best quality search results possible…I can see social becoming a bigger signal in the long term. In the short term, Google won’t leave links behind. Ultimately, Google doesn’t want people to worry about Pandas or Penguins. Google wants to reward sites that have good signals.”
So exactly what does this mean? It means that that the courting days between search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) are over. There are still more than a few SEO and SMM professionals alike that would prefer to keep the two strategies sleeping in separate beds; but businesses who choose to ignore the reality and continue to treat them as unrelated will lose out in the end.
People are talking about brands, making deals, following trends, and finding people they trust on a variety of platforms. It’s interesting to think about the way business was done before the days of the internet. We used the Yellow Pages to do our research and we did business in person or on the phone. Relationships played an important role in who we did business with and we shared our experiences around the water-cooler at work.
Many people, including myself valued the trust factor with a person over the prices for their products or services. I willingly paid a little extra to do business with someone that provided good advice (for free) and who made sure the job was done right. Those are the people we recommended to our friends and family through the form of marketing called ‘word of mouth.’
The importance of being found on search engine pages and in the social networks created the need for SEO. The opportunity to increase brand awareness through social networks was too big to be ignored. With reduced foot traffic and a never before experienced level of competition businesses had to find a way to engage and social media marketing was born.
SEO efforts focused on keywords, links, and content. In the fight to gain a position at the top of the search engine results page content became a commodity. In many cases the quality of the content was ignored and the only metric that mattered was what position was earned on a search results page.
Social media marketing strategies often-times focused solely on acquiring fans and followers with little to no regard for whether or not they were engaged with the brand and converting into sales. Content was created without consideration for whether or not it was search engine friendly and internal debates about whether information should be helpful or promotional were abundant.
Over the past few years, in particular the last 12 months what maybe should have been obvious from the beginning is now crystal clear. The internet is the new “water-cooler,” and in order to succeed it’s important to establish a strong social signal. A strong social signal really just means that you’ve become a trusted resource. You’re the pharmacist who provides a home remedy instead of selling a prescription or the mechanic who teaches you how to change a spark plug instead of replacing the engine.
How do you improve your social signal and improve both search engine optimization and social media marketing efforts?
- Write quality content that people want to read and share and that search engines can find – these are not mutually exclusive
- Build a community don’t target an audience
- Know who your community is and help them solve problems that are relevant to the services you provide
- Establish Google authorship
- Engage with other bloggers in your space, write for them and invite them to write for you
The more great information you provide, the more people will follow you and the more they will share what you have to offer. The more they share and the more you engage, the higher your social signal becomes and you become the trusted resource that is being talked about around the modern day water-cooler.
Having a good signal will help you get more votes from the search engines and recommendations from real people.
I don’t know about you, but I think it makes sense and it’s a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd.