In the early days of online marketing, old search engine optimization (SEO) strategies focused on the most significant factor during that time: link building.
Link building as the sole driver of high rankings in a search engine results page (SERP) is long gone, or at least moribund.
Google, the de facto top online search engine for more than a decade, continues to adapt to changes and devise new filtering technologies in its search algorithm, finding ways to gauge the quality and popularity of a website or webpage.
Then social media took the online industry by storm, changing the way consumers discover and share content with each other.
Marketers and advertisers soon learned and realized the impact and effectiveness of social media as a channel for SEO strategies.
Social media has gained a key role in how the Internet works and how online users consume digital content nowadays, increasing the importance of online presence of small- and medium-sized business (SMB) owners.
SMBs may find it hard to realize and measure the effectiveness or success of a social media marketing strategy at first, but they will soon discover that even veteran users of old SEO strategies now struggle to gain traction and see relevant results using the new SEO techniques.
Truth is that even the so-called SEO gurus, experts, and ninjas, or whatever fancy name they could come up with, have a hard time coping up with the changes Google implemented and completed days, weeks, and months before the official announcement.
Gone are the days of creating formulas showing linear, exponential, logarithmic, and other mathematical functions – even though Google may be using some of these for its own calculations – that relate the number of links and optimized content to the ranking of a website or webpage.
While old SEO strategies generally focused on a static approach, new SEO strategies focus on dynamics – interactions, user engagement, and activities.
At present, Internet and mobile technologies for interactive social networking, also called social media, appears to be the only communication tool you can use to bring more dynamism to SEO.
(Flickr / Sean MacEntee)
The Key Roles of Social Media in SEO
1. Social media crowdsources link building.
Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Google+ circles, and LinkedIn connections help build a large number of supporters who are willing and ready to share your content.
After writing a new article or blog on your website, it is as simple as one click of a button, or an automated content management system, to share the content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn and allow your supporters to share it to their own followers and personal networks.
You may place social buttons on your website to make it easier and faster for readers to share your content on social media platforms.
Statistically, less than half of your visitors will not turn into sales leads or actual customers, but remember that you are doing this to boost the popularity of your website.
Lead generation and sales will follow shortly after the world knows your website exists, and that you have great products or services to sell.
2. Google measures social signals, especially on Google+.
With its own social networking site Google+, Google certainly takes into account the signals generated from social media channels to come up with its SERP rankings.
Social signals such as number of shares, number of website visitors from social channels, number of fans and followers, social sharing elements such as social buttons, and so on.
At the end of the day, social signals has turned into the new metric you have to focus on and replace link building with.
Never try to build fake links, or completely drop your concern over the number of links, and rather worry about the social media presence of your website.
3. Social media is the quickest route to build online presence.
The old SEO strategy for link building was largely contingent on links located in webpages that people do not visit or even know existed.
In contrast, social media provides dynamism and real-time change through a vast world of social activities and interactions that encourages page administrators to continue updating their content, not just social media accounts that rarely receive updates or publish posts.
Social media pushes you to always be socially active, so it is the quickest route to build online presence because most of the connected world is on its bandwagon.
Once you reach and catch the attention of the target audience, you immediately start building buzz on your website and business.
4. Google finds link building objectionable.
Link building has lost its former glory and no longer matters in SERPs as much as before, and may even have a negative impact on your SEO and online marketing campaign.
Google repeatedly says that SEOs and marketers have to focus in providing valuable content and building credibility within their marketplace, rather than generate fake links to their website.
For that reason, social media is the ideal channel to achieve their objectives at the moment.
5. Links from social networking sites add real traffic to websites.
Nearly all links generated from old SEO strategies do not carry a new visitor to your site, simply providing a link to your website without further benefit.
Google found that this technique only promoted a massive volume of links as a method to rise up in search engine ranking, cluttering the Internet with irrelevant pages and junk only intended for link building.
Some SEO firms rip off huge payments from clients for services that only build links on websites without bringing real traffic or customers to the clients. They merely make up links in a trial and error method to improve your ranking.
Google now says link building is irrelevant, so it is like giving money away to those SEO firms that focus on old SEO strategies.
In contrast, social links bring real prospects and greater opportunities to draw the attention of real people into your website, so they are highly likely to become promoters or customers of your business in due course.
6. Link building was always about social proofing.
To discourage the use of fake links in old SEO strategies, Google came up with a ranking system for links, with real links having higher scores than fake links.
Soon SEO firms found a way to work on this by building websites that focused only on gaining credibility and providing real links.
Probably fed up with seeing websites with irrelevant content landing high in its SERPs, Google became conscious that SEO link building is not a long-term solution to rank websites, so it punished websites that used easy-to-manipulate black hatSEO techniques such as fake links.