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Social Media and SEO: The Wonder Twins

In his keynote speech for SMX Sydney, Danny Sullivan mentioned something that really resonated with me. He talked about how he sees social media marketing and SEO as reinforcing each other, like that old cartoon, the Wonder Twins where the brother and sister touched their hands together to create some awesome power to defeat the bad guys.

Yet Danny says that some of the search industry veterans have been complaining loudly about social media. “I don’t wanna be a social media marketer!”, they say. “Damn kids! It’s just not SEO.”

Yes it’s true that if you’ve been doing SEO for years, social media marketing may not come naturally. “But wake up”, Danny says. “Neither did link building! Gonna skip that? No I don’t think so. Learn social media or else work with someone who does”. I couldn’t agree more.

David Cohn complains that what he hates right now about the Internet is that “Everyone is a social media consultant. Conversation is being comodified – and people think they can become ‘experts’ in online conversations,” He says.

Well excuse me, but that’s exactly the point! The Internet has morphed yet again, enabling conversations not previously possible to flow globally. Everyone has a voice and they want to be heard, dammit! It’s not a bad thing, it’s called progress and it’s changing the way we think about business.

A similar revolution happened about five years ago when pay per click advertising started becoming popular. Most of the organic optimizers scoffed and said “Nah, our clients don’t need PPC, we can get them enough traffic through SEO. PPC is for amateurs, it’ll never take off”. Well guess what? PPC went mainstream in a HUGE way, quadrupling Internet sales and now there are very few SEO agencies that don’t encourage their clients to run both SEO and PPC campaigns.

When blogging went feral in 2006, all the Web 2.0 naysayers had to eat their hats. I’m predicting the same thing is going to happen to those currently resisting social media. These days, search marketing just can’t be viewed in isolation from social media. How can it? They are entwined by their very nature.

Here’s an example. Say you are running an SEO campaign for a new client and they need fast backlinks and indexed pages for a brand new site. What’s the solution? To me, it’s implementing a blog. There’s no faster way I know of to acquire links and get your site indexed.

Here’s another example. Let’s say that one of your clients is having a difficult time in the SERPs. Imagine they have a disgruntled customer who’s created a hate page about them and it’s ranking number one in Google. The client has come to you wanting to know if you can use your SEO skills to push the negative page down the SERPs and restore their online reputation. “Sure!” you say.

So what do you do? You write positive blog posts about your client or you hire other bloggers to do the same. You write articles optimized for your client’s main keywords and submit them to highly-trafficked sites in your client’s industry. You promote them via social media. You make sure the new posts are Dugg, Stumbled, Sphunn etc. You feed a good news press release about your client into the social media vortex and let it take hold.

Once the ugly page has been pushed off the front of the SERPs, you continue to watch the blogosphere closely for any negative comments about your client and make sure they don’t rise to the surface again.

This very thing happened to a colleague of mine recently – she is a follower of Sahaja Yoga meditation and had been contacted by one of the site founders to get advice about a slanderous web site they had discovered at the top of the Google SERPs for searches on “Sahaja yoga“. The site in question contained a lot of false allegations about the organization and although it was not their nature to publicly acknowledge or sue the site owner, the founders knew that they needed the help that social media and SEO could provide. They simply decided to optimize their stories and blog posts about meditation and share them with the help of social media sites. Fellow members shared their stories and blog posts about meditation and Furled, Dugg and Stumbled them until the more positive content had gained ground in the SERPs.

Moral of the story? Online reputation and search rank monitoring goes hand-in-hand with social media.

Ok, here’s another example. Let’s say you are an up-and-coming SEO operator with a couple of clients but you need to get more exposure and more business. What’s the best way to develop your reputation? Yep, you guessed it: social media marketing. If your name’s not on Sphinn, Facebook, Stumble-Upon, Twitter or even Digg from time to time, you might as well be operating inside a vacuum. Just take one look at the number of followers the SEM industry rockstars have on Twitter and try to tell me social media marketing is not important.

If your job involves any type of online campaign targeting the under 30 age group, you’d better be haunting the social communities night and day. That’s where your market is and you have to be there too. Even if your brief is to create a traditional SEO channel, you need to get social to understand the market, conduct your keyword research and interact with the target audience.

So how exactly can social media be considered outside the sphere of SEO? That’s right – It can’t.

About The Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College – an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.

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