If you work in the SEO and/or Social Media, you cannot help but notice how, with strong coaxing from Google, these two sectors are quickly becoming one. I am going to explain to you three key reasons why this is true today.
Last week, a person looking for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services for his new business left a post asking for advice on Google+. He mentioned that he was looking for someone to help him create backlinks as quickly as possible. He also mentioned that he did not see the need to get very involved in Social Media.
In a later Google+ Hangout business panel that I host each week, I mentioned this matter to the other members of the panel – a business associate of mine named Jesse Wojdylo.
Jesse said “Social Media IS the new SEO!” All on the panel agreed with Jesse’s aha-moment. I made a note to myself to write something about what Jesse said before he could do so himself and take all the credit. (Love ya, Jesse)
If you expect to do well with SEO and with your SERP (Social Media Results Pages) results, Social Media engagement needs to become a big part of the equation.
If you are scratching your head about what “Social Signals” means, yes, it is one of those jingoistic terms that have emerged in the Social Media Space. It refers to what used to be known as “recommendations” but has now has evolved to“like”, “retweet”, “+1” or, hot-off-the press over on Linkedin, “endorse”.
Jingoistic as the term may be, Social Signals are becoming extremely important in the world of SEO. These signals do not play a direct role in your SERP rankings. Yet, they do provide more visibility and awareness of the individual or organization that is receiving these signals.
Google and Bing both pay attention to these signals. This is especially true if you click on a link from a Search Results page and give that web page a “+1”, or one of the other methods available for recommending content.
For example, when you click a +1 button, you relay to Google that the page you have viewed and “plussed” is more relevant to you than other results. The +1 button exists to provide relevancy feedback. Over time, personal search results reflect which sites, articles, blogs, or white papers you recommended through your “Social Signal”.
See it and believe it. If you are familiar with Google Analytics, I want you to go to your account after reading this article and click on “Traffic Sources”, select “Sources, and then “All Traffic”. More often than not, you are going to see the referrals from Social Media platforms listed near the top of the places that refer links to your website.
I am the CEO of TekPersona, and Google+ is my preferred Social Media home base. From almost the very day Google+ Brand Pages were rolled out, “plus.google.com” has been the #3 referrer to my corporate web site. Only direct and organic searches bring us more traffic. Facebook follows right behind, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn.
No matter what business you are in, posting content on Social Media Forums (which frankly represent your very own audience of relevant connections) will result in more views of your website. You also give millions of people the opportunity to provide feedback on what you do, and how well you are doing it.
If you do NOT post content created via a link on Social Media, you are giving up a potential audience of hundreds of millions of people. Some of these people might be looking for exactly what your business provides. Does my business get customers directly from our Social Media posts? Absolutely we do, and this is true of each of the four Social Media platforms where my business has a presence.
As for SEO, consider what happens should you write something about your business, or on a subject relevant to your business. Your writing might go viral with thousands or more views, resulting in hundreds of Social Signals. Done correctly, a guest blog post can temporarily represent a back link to your website. Do this once or twice a week, and do you think that will not help your SERPs? You better believe it does.
You want to be looking to post your content on sites with greater or equal PageRank than your own. I do not have to tell anyone in the SEO world what that can do for a site’s SERPs. Not only do you receive backlinks from wherever you put your content, you get links from the Social Media sites where you have shared your content as well. This creates even more opportunities to receive those valuable social signals.
Another associate of mine, Mark Traphagen was the first to turn me on to the potential benefits of Google Authorship – Google’s ways of attaching ‘Identity’ to the content you create. Though Google claims to not be considering Authorship for SERP rankings, Mark showed an example of his Google- Authored-Re-share of another person’s content. The result was that Mark ranked higher in a SERP result than the original author on the same page!
What is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship is a trust system between authors and Google for verifying your published content. An author inserts a (Rel= Author) tag in the HTML markup of their content, which links to the Google+ Profile of said author. The Author’s profile, linked to an associated Verified Brand Page, gives Google the information needed for verification. In turn, Google inserts the profile photo of the author, along with their associated content within search results.
The very day Mark Traphagen shared this gem with me, I signed up, and we have been using Google Authorship in all of our published content ever since. While articles and other content written might not contribute to SERPs, I have never seen a share of any of my articles outrank one with my authorship attached. One of the additional benefits of Google Authorship is that it provides a level of protection from site scrapers and plagiarists.
Authorship also enhances Corporate and Personal Branding. Authorship provides additional verification to those who might perform a search on you or your organization, tying your business to the content that actually belongs to you. I don’t have to explain the value of this to a business. Indeed, if a prospective customer can see your image or company logo alongside your quality content, that can only help.
There is no doubt that in every way, Social Media has become of huge importance with respect to SEO. It is not only about where you rank in SERPs, but the ability to provide better quality of information than your competition. You want search results about your business to be both relevant and timely.
I strongly believe that tools like Google Authorship, Social Signals and Referrals from Social Media will over time come to dominate what you see in both your personal and global search results. This can only mean that Social Media, as my friend Jesse said, IS the new SEO.
Your post brings up some valid points. Just the title is a bit off. However, it’s catchy ;-)
I think we have to take the means as a whole, in order to reach goals of global visibility, rather than mere presence within the SERPS.
However, nothing new here. Many of us advocate this strategy for a long time.
Thank you for reading. I think the title is descriptive of a major change that is just now getting underway, which has many SEOs in a state of panic. The title is provocative for sure, and yes catchy, :-) but I think that Google is transforming the SERPs to reflect the best businesses, rather than the best SEO.
This article is about 3 years late in coming. Social Signals have been the driving force behind linkjuice for a long time now. I am assuming this article was then just written as a way to pack in a lot of keywords, because if Social Media being the new SEO was new to you guys – I shouldn’t read any more articles from here.
The Penguin and Panda updates to Google+ were not around 3 years ago. Nor were Google+ and Google Authorship. I do not spam keywords either. Lets agree to disagree.
Really enjoyed your article J.C., and think that you brought up great points. Search and social are no longer going to be two separate ideas or separate optimization options. They need to be connected and that’s what we’re doing here at ZOG Digital. We’re developing solutions that connect search and social together and will allow the client to see how they work together. Learn more about our solution here: http://www.zogdigital.com/#!/s2-platform
Thanks again for producing a great article!
Thank you! I am glad you like the article. I think those who ignore the obvious, that SEO is changing, will be caught behind the 8-ball one day.
Great article J.C., Consulting with many companies; social media attention, traffic, etc. is a main channel for marketing. Optimizing these channels can bring a lot of revenue to a company and it is becoming more popular by the day. Market research at (http://1rpm.us) has helped us decrease the learning curve new companies face. Like you said, those who don’t jump on this wagon, will be left behind.
Thank you, John. Optimizing those channels is what we do at TekPersona, and apparently you do too.
I think you’re right about social media being the new SEO. I think it’s kind of like the way consumers are the ones who really decide what’s popular. A company can try to pump up their numbers all they want but, it’s the stark reality that ultimately tells the truth.
Big thanks for a great article. Points well taken. Everyone should be familiar with its content. I still see most of people neglect the power of social media and rely on “the old school” techniques which are SO losing their power.
Wow J.C.! I had already discovered that Social Media is the new SEO (without actually using the phrase that Jesse coined), but Google Authorship, Social Signals both terms that are new to me. I have some more research to do.
This is so tangible and real. Loved the paragraph providing traffic details / top referrers — very insightful.
Also, the clearest, “non guru-glorified” explanation of “social signals” that I’ve seen to-date. On point.
Lastly, your title is also completely on point, figuratively speaking.
Yay- “happy-dancing”. I try to avoid that “Guru” title as much as possible. I work to write for the lay-person and leave out as much of the Social Media lingo as possible. Awesome feedback. Thank you!
Re social signals: I have found that in the period after I’ve been very active on Twitter, the search engine traffic to the sites I had linked in my profile went up too. Not entirely sure if this was the cause, but it was likely.
And with so many bloggers now on those social sites, being active on them is a good move. This makes it more likely that every now and then one of those bloggers will link to you.
Absolutely, Matt. Our first challenge is to get noticed. If you put out content on your blog, and then provide a link to it in front of millions of eyes on Social Media, you will see positive results, no doubt. There is always someone out there among the hundreds of millions of people in that space, that are looking for exactly what you offer. You just have to get in front of them.
The title of the post is a little deceiving and certainly not true in my opinion.
There is clear evidence and statistics that support the growing importance of social media marketing, social signals, etc. as you’ve mentioned but by no means is it “the new SEO” … Unless I missed it, you didn’t touch on a key point and that is the fact that social media doesn’t simply work on its own. If you have no content marketing strategy in place, which I would argue is more important than social media, you have no substance backing up your Facebook page, Twitter profile, Google+ page/profile, etc. therefore, it probably won’t “work” nor replace or serve as the new SEO.
SEO as we once knew it is certainly a much more wider spectrum covering social media as you mentioned but so much more so I find it hard to say that social media is the new SEO or to even classify it remotely close to SEO.
Thank you for your comments, Craig. Yeah, I think you missed it, my friend. Your’s is an opinion popular with SEO and Link Building shops like MainStreetHost, and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. When I speak with people at Google and understand where they intend to go with respect to Panda and Penguin, it is pretty easy to stand by my comments. The traditional SEO methods; (especially link-building) will soon lose out to content, authority and social signals, and with Google steering the ship, the sooner you get on board, the better. My article is about tactics, maybe the next one should touch on strategy? Rock on, dude.
J.C. – so back to my comment and exactly what I said, I feel you missed out on a key point – “social media doesn’t simply work on its own.” The title of your post implies that SEO is being or has been replaced by social media which is extremely deceiving (and an obvious link bait attempt speaking of link building).
If you read my comment a little closer, I’m not disagreeing with most of what you are saying, only pointing out that your advice to “post content, post content, post content” is much easier said than done.
I do in fact agree that social signals, authority and a Content Marketing Strategy are key to online success. And to quickly back my agency, we do practice SEO and understand that times are changing and if we weren’t adapting, we wouldn’t be continuously delivering results.
With all of that being said, I do respect your opinions and enjoyed your post, just thought it was a little deceiving and misleading to an extent.
Social media takes a little more effort than the usual SEO strategies, and I think that is why there has been some denial among the experts on this topic.
Thanks for the most informative article I’ve read on the topic to date!
Yes, but also Social media gives extra mile in regular SEO work.
I am going to have to agree with Craig Kilgore on this one. I too fee this is a bit deceiving.
Believe it or not, I analyzed 100’s of sites using opensiteexplorer and realized that some had almost no social metrics.
Take for example the site that is beating Craigs site Mainstreethosting for the term SEO services. Mainstreet is beating them in all aspects of what should help them if Social worked, but since explodeseo is using unethical tactics, buying every domain they can buy with high PA/PR/DA and placing anchor texts on the mini site.
They are simply beating mainstreet due to unethical tactics.. Hence the social media played no part of mainstreet beating them.
There are many people at SEOMOZ that will also argue the fact that social media has almost nothing to do with ranking terms as well. There is actually a very large discussion with very intelligent SEO owners discussing in this thread. I think Rand himself even comments on it a few times.
Have a good day.
As an SEO and social media strategist, there are some points I agree with and some I don’t within this article. The title, and many like it, doesn’t help SEO’s from passing along useful information to clients or would-be clients as if they read this, they only feel social is the way to go. Yes, social media may be helpful in building traffic to a website, but as far as what we’ve seen, having a Facebook account or a Twitter account hasn’t done much for most of our clients running SEO campaigns. If you consider blogging into your social metric, then we have seen some great success in our SEO efforts with articles ranking very high. Content, when read by those outside of our service expertise, may mentally set them back. This article should have helped readers grasp more of the “Why” social is helpful to SEO and building natural SEO rank and authority. Thanks for the post and it’s important to note we took something away from the read.
I truly enjoyed the post. I am going to re-think my position on Social Media. I find it very difficult to consistently manage the process.