Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Simplifying Social Media: How it Affects Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization - or SEO for short - is the technique of increasing traffic to a site by ensuring it has high placement in the results of a relevant search. Since most Internet users are usually not willing to click through pages and pages of search results, SEO can play a very critical role in attracting site visitors.

The key to a successful SEO strategy lies in understanding what key elements search engines look for when ranking a site, and then acting accordingly.

So what does social media have to do with SEO? A lot more than you may think.

Since the beginning, the goal of search engines has been to deliver what people are looking for. A main reason why Google rose to dominate the industry in the last decade was because it created a complex system of tracking quality content, thus lending to better search results.

While it still looked at a website's text, title headings, and other content, the key element in Google's new process was links. So, for instance, if your website was linked to from a ton of other legit sites, then your Google ranking rose. Why? Because Google realized that if a lot of people were linking to a site, then that meant it had quality content. Thus, links quickly became the game changer in SEO.

More recently, social media has exploded onto the scene, wherein millions of users share content everyday, including links to websites, online articles, blogs, etc. Naturally, search engines have realized that if a ton of people are sharing your content, then more than likely it is relevant content. (Which then means it will boost your Google ranking. A main reason why all those "like" or "share" buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have appeared frequently across the web.)

In addition to links, search engines are now paying special attention to social media platforms in other ways. Google and Bing, for instance, has added real-time results to their searches, meaning that Twitter and Google+ results are listed predominately over other results.

So, you may wonder, do search engines still take into account a site's content at all? Yes, they do. It's still important to have text, phrases, titles, and the like that contain key words that people may search for. But in today's world, the game changer is dynamic content, which brings us back to social media.

Again, search engines want to find the most relevant, quality, and up-to-date content. Therefore, if your site's content never changes, it runs the risk of being ranked lower, all other factors aside. However, if you have an active blog on your website, or a Twitter or Facebook feed, then your site has a better chance at a higher ranking.

All that being said, does social media alone determine your ranking? No. As mentioned above, other factors exist. But the fact remains that social media is playing a rather significant role in the SEO process.

To that end, at this point you may feel overwhelmed - as if your site will flounder if you don't join a ton of social networks right now! But remember, the end goal of this series is to help you formulate a plan - a plan for the best interests of your business and your sanity! - not to create a sense of panic or fear.

So for right now, just take in the information above, breathe, and store it away for when we reference it later, as we help you formulate a plan for your business.

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