When you think of search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, keyword research, meta tags and inbound links come to mind much sooner than engagement via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But many recent search engine industry reports paint a picture of the near future in which links, likes and tweets become equally important to your overall SEO efforts.
Why is social media becoming so imporant to SEO? Here are five reasons why social media belongs in your SEO strategy.
5 Reasons Social Media Belongs in Your SEO Strategy
- Google and Bing Algorithms - In a December 2010 Search Engine Land interview, Google and Bing both admitted to using signals from Facebook and Twitter to calculate a part of their search algorithms. They take note of how many times a page is shared and the importance of those doing the sharing to calculate a portion of the ranking process.
- Liked Pages Rank Higher - SEOmoz recently reported that content shared and liked on Facebook correlated more highly with higher search results than did the number of links on the web. Until now, links have been the bread and butter of SEO. This research suggests an important role for social media in the future of SEO, a development that should drive a major fundamental shift in most SEO strategies.
- Social Media in the Search Results - Google's new +1 button gives search engine users a chance to note which web pages were helpful. If you're logged in to your Google Account, you'll start seeing pictures of your friends near the search results they found helpful. The first result on a search results page typically receives the most amount of clicks. With the +1 button, click patterns will shift towards the results that carry the recommendations of your trusted network. This is only the beginning of search engines using social media signals to increase the quality of search results.
- Bing Results and the Facebook Like - Not to be outdone by Google's new +1 button, Facebook and Bing announced a deal to show Facebook likes in Bing's search results. Likes should now be considered a primary tactic for Bing Social Media/SEO strategy, as they have a direct impact on both the ranking factors and the resulting click-through rate patterns within Microsoft's search engine.
- The Power of Social Proof - We often take the suggestions of others before making decisions. Web pages are no different. A web page that has been liked or tweeted many times subtely persuades us that we have found quality information. We notice the sharing counts in the margins or the headers of the articles we find and read the ones that impress us. Social proof increases the chances visitors will stay on your site, thus increasing the value of traffic you fought so hard to get through SEO in the first place.
Approaching search engine optimization and social media from separate angles is not a long-term strategy at this point in the game. If you're operating search and social strategies in silos, it's time to rethink your approach and combine some of your efforts.
Where are you taking your search and social strategies? Have you found any tactics or synergies in utilizing social media within your SEO strategy that have worked particularly well? As always, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below.