Time was, not long ago either, that owning the top positions in the major three search engines was enough to keep your competition at bay. But as with everything on the Internet, that has changed.
To understand this, simply look at the Top 10 rankings on Alexa; Google’s comprehensive ranking system for sites on the Internet. Until this year, Google held the highest position (number 1) virtually unchallenged since inception of the system. King Google reigned supreme.
And then it happened. They were rolled out of the number one spot by a social utility site called Facebook and bumped to second place. These positions have rocked back and forth ever since, but the point had been made: social media marketing matters.
In fact, 2 of the first 3 sites on the list and half of the first dozen are social media sites. There is no denying their significance any longer. Ironically, it was the search engines themselves that brought about the change.
The Evolution of Search
The Internet, admit it or not, is still in its infancy and as such is constantly changing as it matures. Why people surf it has not changed that much over time; to be entertained or gather information. On the other end of the same stick, however, things have changed a great deal; how people surf the Internet has taken new directions and search engines have morphed to adapt to that demand.
Initially, it was enough to query a search engine and be taken to a page that contained information about the topic. This was followed, by natural course, with comments from readers about the value of the material; with opposing opinions and questions. A conversation had been started and this is what people began to accept as the norm. But it wasn’t enough.
Weblogs, or blogs, quickly became the rave. These micro-communities of like-minded people were engaged in deep conversations around small niches of interest from all across the Web. Soon, huge macro-communities of blogs were born with names like Blogger, WordPress.com, MySpace and LiveJournal.
Hundreds, then thousands, of similar new communities sprang up all across the Web and gained momentum. Queries took on new forms to include requests for current conversations on a topic, not merely information about it.
Search engines adjusted their algorithms to accommodate their clients by providing results for both information and conversation relative to the query. It’s not difficult to understand that businesses that only showed up in one type of search and not the other only had their cups half full. Not only was it imperative to be found via organic search, you needed a social presence as well. And social media marketing was born.
Social Media for SEO
While not down-playing the importance of organic search engine optimization, it is equally important for businesses to practice social media optimization as well. It’s not a phase, but is here to stay. A large number of companies have ceded this fact and are well underway to field domination. Of course, the main benefit of social media marketing for a business is being found in searches, but for customers it’s brand recognition, customer service, conversations about a product and transparency.
Organic and social media SEO shouldn’t be looked on as living separately by necessity, but seen rather as a fusion of the two into marketing force of one. Offline marketing efforts should be leveraged into the mix as well. The impact social media marketing has on a site’s SEO becomes more clear as the discipline matures.
Social media marketing is often not fully understood or appreciated by business owners. It is constantly changing and growing and is difficult to keep current with unless there is constant monitoring of the discipline.
Most business owners simply don’t have the time to devote to its discipleship. More often than not they are better served by outsourcing the task to a social media marketing specialist who will handle it for them.