Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Anthony Piwarun from Zeon Solutions in Milwaukee.
Last month I presented at my first online marketing conference about aligning search and social to improve organic visibility and increase traffic. Jason was kind enough to help me with a quote for the presentation on how search and social don’t necessarily get along. His words spoke volumes to both me and the audience:
“By far the biggest stumbling block is the combination of clients not understanding the technology and SEO types passively talking over their heads. It’s hard to find a good SEO practitioner who can both translate what the tasks and value are and not be arrogant or impatient with the client’s understanding. I’m kind of a go-between that serves in that role and many SEO folks get cocky with me, too. It takes a unique person to master SEO. It takes a rare breed to master that an humanize it.”
As a search engine marketer who’s been in the industry for about five years now, I know where he, and you are all coming from. I’ve dealt with SEO specialists and agencies in the past who’ve kept the “secret sauce” to themselves instead of going the route of education with the client. The truth is – there is no secret sauce. Search engine optimization is about analyzing your site’s visitors – not chasing Google and Bing.
Social Media is a Ranking Signal
Since mid-to-late 2010 (or maybe earlier), Google and Bing have been using social media engagement metrics as a ranking signal. Things like mentions, shares, likes, and retweets are used by search engines as a form of “social proof,” much like links. An analogy that I like to use with clients when describing the quantity and quality of links – and now social mentions – to their website is like a “vote.” I know the majority of you are sick of all of the political talk, but think of each link and each social mention as a vote of confidence. The more votes you have, the more likely you are to be seen as an authority on the topic (web page) or as a whole (your site / domain). Logic tells us that the higher the quantity – and more importantly, the quality – of those votes, the higher we will rank for the keyword terms that we’re targeting. Take that to the bank!
Social Media is Engagement – Not Follows, Shares and Likes
When you think of social media, what do you think of? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Being the seasoned professional that you are, you know very well that’s not it at all. Social media is about engagement, no matter what set of metrics the C-suite has you chasing. Follows on Twitter, shares on LinkedIn, likes on Facebook and repins on Pinterest are only half the battle. As digital marketers, our success is judged upon how many conversions that our efforts can be attributed to – be it form submissions, ecommerce sales, or in-store purchases. Everything digital is measurable.
Think about the last time that you, as a marketer, went looking to purchase a good or service. What were some of the things you noticed? Did the mom-and-pop shop have a fan page? Did the e-com shop have a Twitter presence? No. Even as marketers, we have needs. We did in fact look at Twitter and Facebook – who wouldn’t? Engagement is key. A thousand followers on Twitter can easily be bought for $17. The quality of those followers is evident, and to the average consumer support, service and accessibility is what matters. There’s no number of fans or followers that can calm the nerves of a potential customer on the fence.
Bring Alignment – Gain Visibility, Traffic and Conversions
In case you’ve been living under a rock, search and social media specialists have been getting cozy beside the bonfire for some time now. If you’ve missed the memo, it’s time to get aboard the traffic train and integrate your efforts with the agency or in-house SEO. Promoting your client’s content through social networks will not only work to build authority, increase your following, and drive traffic, but will also assist in boosting search engine relevancy using social signals. Aside from their role as secondary traffic mediums, social mentions like tweets, shares, likes, and +1’s are effecting search engine rankings, whether you like it or not.
If you’re interested in saving time, money, and resources in your organization, bringing alignment to all traffic-generating mediums is the key to success. Through internal meetings, conference calls, and close coordination with external vendors, you can ensure that your efforts are put to use and not lost in the shuffle.
Does anyone else have touch points where SEO and social media can get along and share information? If so, we’d love to hear them!
Anthony Piwarun is a Milwaukee SEO and Search Engine Marketing Manager at Zeon Solutions, an e-commerce web development company based in Milwaukee, WI. Follow Anthony on Twitter, or read his blog to stay in touch.