We just got a call from a potential new client that runs a web site. Her site is currently the market leader in our area for her specific area of expertise, but a new competitor has just launched and she was a little worried about how that would impact her. She already has an excellent publishing platform, writes, contributes and shares regularly on the topics her customers care about, and has built all the necessary relationships behind the scenes to support her customers. She has a presence on all the appropriate social networks, but she still felt the need to get in touch with another local “SEO expert” to make sure she was on track.
Whenever I hear that, my neck tightens up.
The bottom line with SEO, just as it was way back in 2007 when this seminal post by Scott Karp was originally created, is that good content and user experience drive links and readers, and links and readers drive good search engine rankings. That hasn’t changed. In fact, Google already hinted at SXSW this spring that if you try too hard to optimize for SEO you could actually LOSE rankings. One thing that HAS changed is that your supporting social media presence is now a big part of how well ranked your site and content remain. Social is tied directly to search results. So what does this really mean and what should you do?
- Google+ is going to have a huge impact on search results. One way Google can drive adoption of Google+ is to reward participation. What a concept! They have over 90MM users already and they all see personalized search results (SERPs). High participation and large, well-connected circle counts matter in Google’s search rankings. So get on there and start sharing!
- Conversations and traffic are being emphasized almost more than keywords (which are still really important). The more visibility and connections a piece of content can generate, the better it does for SEO. Social networks are now the primary drivers of those connections.
- Content remains king. The king is dead. Long live the king! Content has to be fresh, regularly updated, and well-distributed over the social web. So a good content publishing strategy with social distribution is a core competency for your business to develop.
- Tweets and retweets matter. Google says they don’t directly count tweets in rankings, but a popular tweet containing a link earns a lot of re-publishing across the web that Google does crawl, index and count.
- Facebook really helps Bing results. Through Bing’s partnership/integration with Facebook, results are massively personalized for any logged in Facebook user. So building a presence and sharing content there is no longer optional.
- Social content distribution drives awareness and branding, which also drives searches. People just knowing about you and what you think will make them search for you more, yes? It also can lead to more love from the press, who are looking for easy ways to generate stories via social networks and connections.
In the end, it all comes down to content. As usual. If you regularly publish things that are worth reading and sharing and you hook up the necessary social platforms to actually DO that sharing (and enable your readers to help you), you will earn a social search rankings boost, gain natural followers and links, amplify your reach and influence, and bias consumers towards your stuff. And towards your business. All will be well. Deep breaths…