If you are not aware of this, there have been massive changes in the world of SEO in the past few months and may sites that have enjoyed top rankings for years have suddenly found themselves nowhere. Yes, this is partly due to both the Panda and Farmer updates Google has made, but this is even bigger! After much speculation about search engines factoring social media influence into website rankings, we no know that both Google and Bing have both stated that SOCIAL MEDIA IS AFFECTING SEARCH RANKINGS! This is huge news! Social media and search have merged. This is your wake up call.
What I mean is, if someone influential shares a link to this blog post, it is that much more likely to show up in search results than it would if I just applied all of the traditional SEO tactics to this. You know, the ones that most of you are probably paying through the nose for to some so-called “SEO Expert” or company who has been taking advantage of you for the past 12 months! So now, all of the sudden, people and their opinions suddenly matter when it comes to your search engine rankings.
Just to be clear here, we are not talking about the old news that is Google Social Search or Realtime Search. We are talking about search that hundreds of millions of people do every single day. You know…your customers and more importantly, your potential customers who are searching for your product or service. Everyone knows that Google uses their secret algorithms that include PageRank. number of inbound links and all the other good stuff. Here is the new difference…now rather than just looking at a page’s authority based upon factors that are easily manipulated, search engines are starting to look at human authority too. Basically the social signals that are being sent to and from social media sites billions of times each day. Google and Bing have both gone on the record to say that authoritative people and pages in the social world lend their authority to pages they promote and tweet. In the case of Bing, the search engine takes into consideration how often a link has been tweeted, as well as hwo influential the users are that share it. Google answered that it only uses the data in limited situations (as vague as their algorithm) but they ARE using it.
As for Facebook, Bing pays attention to links shared that people share on their profile if they are marked as “everyone” and links shared from company pages. Google is as usual fairy vague in how they measure Facebook posts, but they say in no uncertain terms that it plays an increasing role in how your webpages are ranked.There is also speculation that the number of Likes and level of interaction are also critical numbers.
So how does this affect your marketing plan? Here are three takeaways that you should keep in mind as social media and search become more intertwined every day.
GET OFF THE BENCH
YOUR BUSINESS AND PRODUCT NEED TO HAVE A PRESENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA NOW! YOU ARE ALREADY LATE TO THE GAME.
If you’ve been avoiding it because you don’t care to fill that piece of your marketing plan just yet, or your company is too conservative, or someone in upper management doesn’t get understand why it is important (how many times have you heard these excuses!?), now is the time . Everything is integrating together and will continue to become more connected and important. If you build your presence now, you just may build the relationship with influencers that you’ll need when social media and search truly mesh…because that day has come! It is possible that one day in the every near future, we will see that you can’t have a good ranking without social media influence. Everything we are seeing is leading to that conclusion and the search engines are confirming it.
Regardless of what you or your company may think of Facebook Pages, they are certainly the most visible to the search engines. Not only that, but they are also available to people who do not currently have Facebook accounts (we heard there are a few people in the business world who still do not have them). If you have been meaning to jump into the world of Facebook, now would be a good time. If you already have a Page and have been just passing time and basically letting it take care of itself, now is the time to pay attention and whip it into shape. From today forward, you must always think about search when you are busy being social. Use the keywords and phrases that support your search goals when linking back to your website or blog post. Simple to do right? You can also start networking with other Pages to help spread your content and give it a better chance of being seen by people who you may not know or know you.
MAKE INFLUENCE A PRIORITY
This should not come as a big surprise, but Influencers are more important than ever. Why do you think us marketing people call them Influencers anyway? One decent way to find them is to take a look at their Klout score or just take a look at the size of their networks (we call that their Influence Stream) and the quality of their interactions. When you find someone with a good score, a large influence stream or know how to interact with their followers/fans…the hit the “engage” button. Take the time to target the Influencers who are in your niche or category and share your interests. Figure out what they love (it should be easy if you actually read their posts and tweets) and create a strategy designed to get a conversation started with them. Once you build a relationship with them it is likely that they will share your links and social interactions with their influence stream.
Here is another crazy idea. Become an influencer yourself because being an influencer is just as important as having relationships with others. Social media has broken down the barriers to becoming a thought leader and some of the most unlikely people in the world have built huge influence streams through social media. There are a bunch of steps you can take to become an Influencer and to make yourself more influential. More on that later.
As social and search continue to become inseparable, who you are and who you know is more important that every. Online is starting to mimic real life. We have all heard the old saying “It is not what you know, but who you know,” and that is truly starting to play out in the world of search engine rankings.
Being social is a BIG deal. I’m not talking about just being on social networks but interacting with people and sharing content. Just like you share information with other people about your favorite restaurant or band, you can share your favorite website links and info. If you share with them, they will share back with you and before you know it you will be social! If I share your link, you are more likely to share mine…righ? makes sense if you think about it. basically if you scratch my back, I will scratch yours. If I put my content all over the web, people are more likely to find it. You know the old saying, “the more stiff you throw against the wall…” I am not condoning randomly vomiting your content onto the web, because you do need a strategy, but that should be pretty damn simple. If I include your opinions in my blog post, you’ll may want to tell everyone about it and now I am getting you even more exposure, while getting more for myself at the same time. It is almost like you are going to start to act like a human being online. What a concept! If I partner with other company pages on Facebook, we open doors for each other to share information with like-minded audiences. Wow!
Being social is already a big deal and extremely important for marketers and brands. Now that it being social actually affects your search engine rankings it is more important than ever. It is time to jump in the deep end of the pool and get going.
Come on in… the water’s fine!