Where Social Media Fits Into the SEO Equation
We hear a whole lot of talk about social media marketing these days. There is plenty of evidence that there are great benefits to this medium, but there are still many questions about it as well. What questions do you have?
I thought it would be interesting to explore social media and how it relates directly to search engine optimization. I sent a couple of questions to several online marketing experts to get their thoughts on the subject. So contained here are the thoughts of Todd Malicoat, Joe Griffin, Joe Whyte, and Stephen Pitts.
Chris Crum: Where does social media fit into the SEO equation?
Todd Malicoat: Social media is an integral portion of a successful SEO campaign in the current landscape. Social media marketing helps mainly with creating the global link popularity that is essential to high rankings. Successful social media distribution of high value content has helped to solve the issue of not having enough unique linking domains or global link popularity, which has traditionally been one of the most difficult SEO variables to succeed at.
Joe Whyte: Social media is great as one piece of the Internet marketing puzzle, so is SEO for that matter. The links, traffic, brand engagement and conversational marketing piece to social media is very powerful. Selling it as a stand alone service has always created some issues for me as it takes time and it does not reap the same rewards for clients as quickly and securely as traditional SEO. It is great to do a linkbait piece and get to the top of Digg and see all of that traffic come through but all clients are looking for is a return that affects their bottom line and they want to be able to equate a certain campaign to that success. Social media has always had problems in that regard. Converting Digg and StumbleUpon users to sales is just NOT realistic for every company and every site owner out there.
As the social web evolves, this hole will be filled and is already starting to be filled by the development of more social networking, bookmarking and sharing sites.
In my opinion, the best social media marketing tactics to fit into your online marketing campaigns would be researching who you need to target then cross reference that criteria against the different social sites in order to quantify for yourself and your client that you are targeting the right sites. Then building a presence while engaging users and creating unique and interesting content for that community is the best method.
By doing this you create brand awareness, ubiquity and engagement which is the ultimate goal. Social media marketing is great for targeting the same demographics but just on a different platform away from your traditional search engine results pages.
Joe Griffin: Building a presence in the social web is all about reputation and branding. Most of the web’s top ranking websites maintain strong brand recognition in their respective industries. Strong branding leads to natural inbound links, and this is the lesson to be learned about building a reputation within social media networks. Most of the major social networks like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, purposely nofollow or truncate outbound links. This strategy drastically cuts down spam in their networks, and improves their quality and relevancy in the major search engines.
So, simply building profiles and linking to your site won’t help. If you’re interested in leveraging social media portals to improve your website’s rankings, then you need to look at the strategy in a completely different light. First and foremost, participating in the social web means building brand recognition, which can be used for your personal brand, your business brand, or both. It’s the brand recognition that leads to improved linking to your website – it’s not the social media websites themselves that will give your website link popularity. The inbound links will come from bloggers, forum moderators and users, resource websites, and new friends and colleagues that you will meet along the way.
Social networks build brands. Brand building is the key to top rankings over the long haul. Recent updates by Google, including the Vince update validate these comments.
Stephen Pitts: Social media is a form of offsite promotion, just like link building. A quality link doesn’t only come from any site, but one that is relevant and has visibility to engines and users, as should a social media effort. As with a SEO campaign, a social media effort should not be considered a project, rather a process that is continual. It can be one of the most effective means to entice users to speak and share online what you offer along with what is great and not so great about you.
Chris Crum: Strictly from an SEO standpoint, what are the benefits to using Twitter, Facebook, etc.?
Todd Malicoat: I’ve honestly yet to have someone show me a great SEO use for Facebook. There is certainly potential for distribution through it though, based on the raw size of the user base. With either medium, and with ANY social medium – the goal is simple for SEO’s: high distribution of top level content so it gets well linked.
See other paralllels between social media marketing and SEO?