Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been around as long as search engines. Over the years it has changed dramatically and now we have social media activity influencing search results in all of the major search engines. While SEO is still definitely about creating the least imperfect site it’s become more and more about the type and quality of the content on the site and how it gets shared off the site.
When it comes to the convergence of search and social the main layer involved (at least for right now) is the bottom layer. The content is what gets shared, it’s what gets those social votes, it’s what we engage with. It’s also recently emerged as the most important layer to Google with all of the content focused updates that came out in 2012 (and more rumored to be coming in 2013).
When looking at the SEO pyramid (originally created by Rand Fishkin) it’s easy to see where social fits in the overall SEO scheme of things, but what isn’t quite as apparent is what the other layers of the pyramid have to do with social and why you need the layers below to make the social even more effective.
Accessible, Quality Content
As I stated above this is the most important layer when it comes to the convergence of search and social. This is the content that will get shared, engaged with, and then ranked in the SERPs. This content needs to be focused on your customers, their pain points, and used to help, entertain, or educate them as needed and appropriate. This also includes the way things are coded and tagged on your site (URL structure, OG tags, etc.).
Keyword Research & Targeting
Search engines still run on keywords. Social search runs on keywords. We humans look for keywords that interest us in our social feeds. Our brains work on keywords. Think about conversations at a party. You walk by one group and they are talking about organic cleaning supplies, so you move on, the next group is talking about some Japanese film you’ve never heard of but anime turn you off, and then you hear the word Whiskey. Now there’s a conversation you can get into so your brain tunes in and now you start talking about the wonderful world of whiskey with some new found friends.
Or, maybe the anime or organic cleaning supplies is more your thing. The point is that every person has a bag of keywords that they find interesting and worth their time.When you know what those keywords are and you build accessible, quality content and conversations around them then search engines and people know what you’re about and if you’re something (product, service, etc.) that is worth their time. Which, coincidentally is also how you should be optimizing your site and your content. Not for everyone, but for the specific group of people who find you and your product interesting and worth their time.
This is another area where Google has made some updates to look closer at quality over quantity (at least to some extent). This is also where your content and social can clash again (search and social). When you make
good great content that stands out to your target audience it gets shared. These shares then generate links as people talk about it, post it, share it, blog about it, etc. This is where having an active social community around your brand helps get that content to go further, get voted higher, get more quality back links, and get the search engines to rank it higher in the SERPs.
So in this pyramid everything “social” is lumped into one big category and if you wanted to get really technical (and looked through a SEO lens) then in that top triangle is where the social media pyramid would sit. However, I see that as more “now proceed to step two” kind of an intro. I see both SEO and social media as being equal in the market place right now. You however might have a different opinion depending on your favorite field of internet marketing.
The social part of SEO is also about setting up a social environment on your site. It’s about finding the balance between cramming as many social share buttons as possible on your site and your page load speed. It’s also about your social and content marketing and how you make the contacts and build the community that shares and links back to your content.
As you can see every layer of the SEO pyramid plays into your social. If you don’t have good content, that is easily shared, on an optimized site, then you’re not going to be able to build the kind of community around your content that will create the shares (social votes) and back links to your content to get it ranked high in the SERPs. If your site is a mess then when Google gets to your site it won’t know what to make of it and might not be able to even index it. It’s all connected.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow for part 4
Josh S Peters
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 1
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 2 – Social Media
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 3 – SEO
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 4 – ZMOT
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 5 – Paid Media’s Place
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 6 – Content
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 7 – A Strategy Framework