Now that Google has released its challenge to Facebook, Google+, the search giant is positioned to fully integrate social media conversation and relevance in the search algorithm. Given the weight they appear to be extending to social shares, any SEO plan for the future has to include a social media strategy.
Peer Recommendations Trump Traditional SEO
With the +1 button (Google’s version of Facebook’s like), links on the Google search engine results page (SERP) now contain a thumbnail showing any of your public connections that have already approved of the link. It is as though they were saying, “We think you’ll like this because Aunt Martha did.”
This is powerful testimony, that a link has the pre-approval of a peer. Remember though, they did not find the top ten results and then add the recommendation. Google included that particular link in your top ten because it had a peer recommendation. When someone suggests a link to you today on Google+, the SERP might continue serving that link to you months later.
SEO for the future requires that a website have those social media shares and connections that the search engines will use to promote content to connected searchers.
Inbound Social Media Links
Social media sites have risen to become some of the weightiest domains on the Internet. Facebook is number two. Twitter is in the top ten. Google’s algorithm passes some of that weight through to each public link to your site on these domains. Maybe each link on its own doesn’t add up to much, but the power of many links, from different people and several platforms, adds up. To have none of those links cannot look well for a site.
What does Google+ add?
In the past, Google was shut out of a lot of Facebook interaction that was not public. If they can attract activity over to Google+, they will have better resources to understand individual searchers and the content those searchers will find relevant.
What will this mean for Facebook?
Facebook has already implemented new privacy controls in response to Google+ circles. We can expect a lot more reaction in coming months as Google+ rolls out fully for professional profiles.
These changes will exert pressure on Facebook users who wish to leverage their Facebook profiles for promotion and SEO. They will have to unlock the privacy on some of their activity if they want the full SEO benefit from their social media shares.
Facebook or Google+?
So, the six million dollar SEO question is, which social media shares will get more weight? Google could push the adoption of Google+ when they open up professional pages with just a hint that shares on the home site weigh more and get more prominence on the SERP.
Social media is in a state of change. Google+ has mounted a threat to Facebook dominance, and only time will tell who is the big winner. One thing is certain though, social media relationships for websites have stopped being a nice promotional flourish and have become a necessary tool in the SEO kit. Six months ago, it was still appropriate to speak of social media and SEO as separate, if complementary, activities. This is no longer true.
Written by Jen Silva
Jen Silva is a dedicated writer for ChooseWhat.com. She researches and writes on various topics such as how to start a business and topics related to business cards and how to order them online. Visit ChooseWhat.com for more small business resources.
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