11 Oct Social Networking Crucial to SEO Strategy Posted at 09:22h in Digital, Strategy by Danielle Spinks-Earl Share A few years ago, we gave our clients a five minute warning order when Google released its Panda algorithms. If you weren’t socially networked, you needed to get your shoes on. Now the time has come. If you consider yourself an expert or opinion leader, you need to move on social networking. Now! Once upon a time, getting your website in tune with the indexing activities behind search engines was pretty straightforward. Search engines looked for Relevance and Inbound links (also called back links). Not so anymore. Relevance is still relevant, of course. You need to have quality content and that content needs to be threaded together though the use of keywords about your area of interest that people will find relevant to their search. You still need this. Quality content. Lots of words, lots of relevant keywords. You can research these through Google AdWords without buying any ads. You can see the number of times certain phrases are entered into Google per month in your area. Linking is still an important factor for SEO. The more links you have coming to your website from external sources, the higher the confidence rating a search engine can bestow upon your site and, therefore, the higher your website will appear on a search result. There is one caveat, however. It became quite easy for sites with no substance, or undesirable substance, to spread their seed and generate inbounds links galore. Some of the Comment spam you see on blogs are attempts to gain inbound links to sites selling clothes, pharmaceuticals, and so on. For example, a website articles about ‘Food Poisoning Dangers’ might finish with a comment such as ‘Great article!” from Bill Smith of the website www.XXXawesomesextoys.com. This is about planting backlinks. To counter this kind of virulent backlinking, smart search engines have devised ways to assess the Authority of the links. After all, a smart organisation will not approve a comment like ‘Great article’ with a backlink like this (they may also disallow backlinks from their site). So it’s not just about quantity of links any more, it’s the quality or ‘Authority’ of those links. So when it comes to SEO, a big thumbs up for Relevance and Inbound links, but make sure they are Authoritative. Social Search In the world of technology and marketing, times do change and times change swiftly. Relevance and Inbound links are no longer good enough. The third branch of SEO is Social. Social Networking (also called social media) must be part of any SEO strategy. Without it, your SEO is at a major disadvantage from here on in. It is fair to say that sites without social integration are being increasingly penalised in the search stakes, because without social media, you really show no evidence of your integrity or influence. The New Search Paradigm Expect to hear a lot more of the term ‘social search’ from here on in. When conducting online search, search engines now consider any kind of social connection you may have to a search item. Here’s an example. I am searching for a gymnasium online. One of 349 Facebook friends (who I may or may not even know) has Liked a page called Joe’s Gymnasium. Joe’s Gymnasium will display a higher Search ranking than another gymnasium because I have that social (albeit tenuous) connection. Google+ is one of the most recent social networks that doesn’t look that much different to the others. Except for one thing. Social search. Google has now integrated social networking into online search. Why would you ignore a social networking platform owned and operated by the world’s most popular search engine? Bing is doing the same. You can now type your search terms into the bar and get not only the search engine recommendations, but the recommendations from your network of friends, family, colleagues and high school buddies.Very handy if you are a professional service provider in which case recommendations from people you know are worth gold. Facebook is also looking into integrating social search. This is a brief overview of the importance of Social Networking as part of an SEO strategy. To read a more comprehensive, trustworthy post by the HubSpot experts, here is A Crystal Clear Explanation of How Social Media Influences SEO If you are keen to get started, the first step is setting your objectives. After all, social networking through any of its channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc) is not about chasing the shiny object. It should be considered as key parts of your business for existing customers, customer service and lead generation, nurturing and conversion. All of these things have the objective of awareness, liking, preference and loyalty. Rest assured, there is a method to the madness. But you’re mad if you ignore it as folly. What social networks do you use for your business? What difference has it made? Tags: bing, facebook, google+, networking, search engine results, SEO, social media, social search Danielle Spinks-Earl BA Comm. M Mktg. Freelance writer, designer, marketing communications manager.