The Relationship Between SEO & Social Media
Amy Harris, the Community Manager for Expert Market, discusses the relationship between SEO & Social media.
SEO, Past and Present
It’s true to say that search engines continually update their algorithms in an effort to be the agent of choice for people looking for the most relevant content available.
To begin with they focused mainly on the keywords used in web pages. This is still a factor where rankings are concerned, but is much less important today than it used to be as keywords can be too easily subverted.
The engines then moved their focus to back linking. Again, this still counts, but it too became subverted as sites simply agreed to swap links with each other so that they could continue to climb up the rankings.
Now the focus is on a combination of content and recommendation, with social media traffic being taken as a strong indicator of relevance. Basically, the search engines are increasingly seeing social media engagement as a vote of confidence in the content of a site.
Keeping Your Social Media Search Engine Friendly
Of course, as soon as the search engines come up with new ways to filter out poor sites, the owners of these sites look for ways to circumvent them. In this case, votes can easily be bought. A quick internet search will reveal plenty of companies offering shares, likes and follows for various prices. This is, however, a dangerous strategy. If it results in driving visitors to the site only for them to realize that they were misled and leave again, the site will quickly slip back down the rankings.
It should therefore be recognized that there are plenty of legitimate ways of driving up social engagement. For the price of a thousand likes, a company could run a legitimate Facebook competition to generate the same effect without the risk of a backlash.
Another key point, which is often overlooked, is that the ultimate goal of any search engine algorithm is to be able to suggest content which matches up with the individual user. To take a simple example of this, if a user searches for “weather forecast” and the search engine determines that their IP address is from the Ireland, it will bring up weather related sites from Ireland rather than from anywhere else.
The more information a search engine has on a user, the better it can determine the sort of content which is relevant to them. For example, two different people might do a search on the word “poker”, but if one has just been searching for information on Las Vegas and the other has been searching for information on buying a new fireplace, the search engine will bring them different results for their query.
Most people will make social media connections with other people who share some sort of common bond, whether it’s a geographical location, a place of education, an employer or an interest, so knowing what a person’s social mediacontacts have found engaging and relevant gives the search engine a head start on determining which pages to rank in what order. It also gives the site a head start on getting a person’s attention since it has effectively been given a personal recommendation by someone the person respects and that is arguably the most powerful tool ever created for both sales and marketing.