Search engine optimization (SEO) is not an exact science. It is about tuning a company’s digital media practice to ‘best practice’, in order to raise the value and performance of its organic listings. SMO, or social media optimization, lends a hand to SEO by leveraging quality content on websites to make them easier to link to and more searchable on search engines, as well as within social platforms. SMO increases the potential to be picked up by relevant blogs, videos and so on, thereby improving a site’s ‘linkability.’
We’re constantly being reminded that ‘Content is King,’ and this has never been more true than today. Three key developments have brought us to this stage: the Panda Update of 2011, Google+ and searchable Twitter feeds. Let’s backtrack a bit.
In 2011, Panda, Google’s algorithm update, introduced a filtering system to check for unique, quality content in order to identify authentic news and information providers. It also heavily penalized sites for churning out keyword-stuffed stories. Because of the update, web surfers now find more relevant information within the first ten search results.
Social and SEO form a lethal combination in the current context of content marketing. Not only are we made deeply aware of the importance of new and fresh content, Google is also constantly dropping hints on how we ought to go about it. This was first witnessed with the advent of Google+ and now again, with the announcement that Twitter feeds will appear in search results.
How it works:
These two disciplines have long been viewed as separate and distinct from one another. Today, they present the opportunity to leverage greater portions of the SERP (search engine results page) real estate. How does it do this? For example, if you were to look for ‘Starbucks’ on local search pages, you would get results that include links to Starbucks’ website, local listings, knowledge graph, Google Maps listings and all the linked social profiles. The brand messaging that is delivered can then speak to customers on an individualized level. As a user, you feel that this content has been selected specifically for you and is all the information you could possibly need based on your search query.
So you may be wondering, “will SMO produce guaranteed results?” and “does Google really look at what we’re doing on all our different platforms?” Matt Cutts made it clear that Google would not use social signals as a ranking factor for searches. So why should we place any importance on SMO?
Social traffic provides a strong push in directing users to a website. If your site’s content is interesting and matches what users are searching for, they will continue to engage by completing a desired action on the website, such as finishing a video view, completing a download or clicking onto other pages.
These metrics are then recorded in the form of bounces – time spent on the page and the average number of pages viewed, which contributes to overall organic interactions and rankings. Therefore, the impact from this indirect driver is undeniable.
So the answer to whether SMO produces guaranteed results is a resounding yes. As long as you’re optimizing your channels and producing content that people are searching for, you can be sure that there will be a ripple effect and that Google will be watching.
Furthermore, SMO enables your brand to reach your audience through every relevant channel by capturing the highest rank for key terms. This in turn delivers the maximum impact to position your brand as an influential market leader. Therein lies the power of SMO.
Over the past few years, search engines have evolved to return more relevant results with fewer keywords and still fewer refined searches. Now, they can even anticipate and recommend the results we need.
Greater precision leads to greater expectation. Therefore, the onus to meet these expectations falls into our laps as digital media marketers. We must undertake the responsibility to inform and direct. So let’s all jump on the optimization bandwagon and enjoy the benefits.