As I mentioned in a previous post, search engines are an indispensable means for prospects to find your website. Your ranking on search engines is still significantly dependent on well-chosen keywords coupled with inbound links (connections from other sites to yours). There are many link-building strategies, including directory submission, PR outreach, competitions and giveaways, organic content (such as blogging), community links (such as from the local Chamber of Commerce) and customers. SEO techniques such as these remain essential for driving traffic to your site.
Although these traditional SEO practices are still relevant, SEO 2.0 differentiates by connecting with consumers on a deeper, more holistic way than ever before. How? By providing quality content that users find fresh and original. Major search engine providers like Google are reacting to consumer sentiment and updating their search algorithms to favor fresh and original content in search rankings.¹
The desire for deeper consumer engagement and fresh and original content is leading search engines to the greatest repository of consumer data and original content in history: social media.
In this brave new SEO 2.0 world, search + social, or “social search”, is king.
As one might expect, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft are duking it out over who will rule the future of social search. Interestingly, Twitter and Google used to have a deal to use tweets in real-time search-engine result listings. That contract has ended, however, with no renewal in sight.
Another little-known fact, Microsoft is an investor in Facebook, giving itself access to some of Facebook’s data on its Bing search engine (likes and friend lists, for example). However, Facebook’s stringent data privacy restrictions render much of the information it has collected useless. As a work-around, Facebook is now offering users a public option for updates.² Bing also includes real-time data from Twitter.
Google’s release of Google+, coupled with its move to social search with the January 2012 announcement of Search, Plus Your World, has been touted as a model for the widespread and efficient melding of social search. With over 90 million users, G+ has enjoyed sizeable growth, although many (including myself) are beginning to question the utility of that figure given their poor user interaction data. In any event, Google+ has a long way to go to catch Facebook’s 850 million-strong user base.
Given the size of Facebook's user base, they have a sort of de facto internal social search model of their own. Facebook has built up a massive social graph of user data that it has kept "private." Facebook integrates this data to offer information and content to users from their friend base.
Brands can capitalize on this in two ways:
1) They can purchase ads that can target just about anybody. Want to run a FB ad targeting twenty-something women in Akron, Ohio who recently got engaged? No problem.
2) They can engage more deeply with their target audience by setting up a Facebook business pages and building up a large network of followers.
TRY TO BE SOCIAL
Growing pains aside, Google+ brand pages are still important for businesses. Top search-engine provider + fast-growing social media network is a SEO 2.0 content creator’s dream. If your business does not have a profile on Google+, I suggest you set one up yesterday.
Facebook and Twitter, search engine or not, are still really important for your business. If your company does not have a profile on both of these social media sites, I strongly suggest you set one up yesterday.
If you are not following SEO 2.0 best practices by producing quality web-based content optimized for SEO and shared throughout your social media channels, (with CTAs, Landing Pages and Analytics) I implore you to start doing so yesterday.
How have you integrated social search into your business model?