The Growing Overlap of Search and Social Media

Overlap between search and social mediaThere's always been a relationship between social media and search engine optimization (SEO). For as long as there have been people gathering to create and share content, there have been search engines organizing and helping us find it all. And new evidence points to a growing overlap between search and social media, signalling the importance of a strategic relationship between the two online marketing channels. Are your search and social media efforts as coordinated as they could be?

Search and Social Media Successes

Success in search often looks different than success in social media. Social media blogging success can mean someone influential re-tweeting or liking links to your content, which creates brief, yet pronounced inflows of new visitors to your blog. Blog posts that succeed in the search engines build a semi-permanent trickle of visitors over time for certain keywords. While these successes can be exciting enough on their own, it's been often wondered if the two were related as well.

Search and Social Media Synergies

It's been much rumored over the last year that Google and Bing are using social signals from places like Twitter to better inform their search engine results. Recently Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land posted the most detailed explanation of how Google and Bing use data from Twitter and Facebook to adjust their search results. And it turns out that being popular in social media can help you in Google too.

Sullivan's interview revealed that search engines are now paying even more attention to how we share content on our social networks. Search engines originally used only links between websites as proxies for what we think is relevant and popular on the web. Now Google and Bing have all the links in our tweets as well, meaning that going viral on Twitter, Facebook and Digg will directly help your SEO efforts. And popularity of links is only one of many potential implications of Facebook and Twitter's influence on search.

Search and Social Media overlap

Search and Social Media Reviews

Story number two that illustrates the growing overlap between search and social media comes from the fallout of the New York Times story, "A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web." It was reported that an online retailer selling designer eyewear actually improved in search engine rankings when its customers left negative reviews on the customer feedback site, Get Satisfaction. 

Google responded stating that it was actually all the "link juice" from publicity like the New York Times story that was helping the retailer to rank, not the negative reviews. They went on to explain that they'd gone the extra mile and tweaked their algorithm to look at the negative reviews for a vendor and factor them into how that retailer ranks in the search engine rankings moving forward. At this point I believe the retailer in the story is suffering from a serious lack of search engine traffic. The message is clear: there is no long-term business model that supports being a jerk on the web.

Baking in Search and Social Media

How have you been using search and social media together? What benefits have you seen from coordinating your efforts together when it comes to SEO and social media? What new tactics will you be testing as a result of the recent evidence showing the growing overlap of search and social media? I'd love to hear your thoughts on search and social media in the comments below.