What does social media have to do with search engine optimization?
If social media represents what many once called the “Web 2.0,” then perhaps search engine optimization strategies require their own update, which I’ll call “SEO 2.0.”
Many have asked what social media has to do with SEO. There are many ways in which social media networks and content communities contribute to your site’s search engine rankings. Adding keyword rich content to your company’s blog, for example, works to capture search query traffic on searches relevant to the content you’re posting. The more content you create, and the better it is coded and tagged, the more likely you are to place highly in the search results for the keywords and phrases you covet. And search engines continue to place greater and greater value in the types of real-time content that is generated by users of social media.
But for years we’ve talking about ways we can optimize a company’s website for search, when we should really be talking about how to optimize the Web itself for searches relevant to your company, product or services. This is where social media comes in.
Search is the center of the Internet universe. It is where research begins, where questions get answered, where resources get discovered, and where purchasing decisions are borne. If you’re invisible in search, you’re invisible to prospects.
Getting back to social media, think of it this way: Every piece of content you create, and every network you penetrate, every presence you establish and maintain online—they all work to steal a share of the online voice away from a competitor. When a prospect does a search for a product or service you offer, you obviously want them to find you, and not your competitor.
Even consider searches done for your specific company. An illustrative example is a simple Google search for our company’s name:
Identity and PR are fairly common search queries; and trust me, we are not the only company named Identity in the PR biz out there. But notice the results. At the very top of the search results, our company’s social networks and content communities are monopolizing the top of the heap, save for one other company whose name is actually the precise search term I entered. You find our company website, our blog, our Twitter account, our listing on Listorious, and a LinkedIn company page. If you were to continue down the list, you’d find our YouTube channel, our Facebook fan page, etc. We are working very diligently to optimize, not only our site, but the Web in general, for searches that we want to win. We absolutely want to own searches on our company name, and so do you.
Consider if your company is even more common than Identity, such as “ABC Company.” A search for that company returns disparate results, with no one company represented more than once. There’s an ABC Distributing, the ABC TV network, ABC Supply, ABC Companies, and so on. And I’m sure there are hundreds of other ABC Companies out there that would love to be on this first page. But they haven’t done enough either through SEO or “SEO 2.0” to crack the top 10.
As you consider whether you have the time or resources to devote to social media, think about how it will affect your search engine visibility…and think about how that affects your business development efforts. Make this case to the suits upstairs, and you’re off and running to develop your social media strategy.