Search Engine Optimization in an Increasingly Social World!

While many (foolishly) argue that SEO is dead, that isn’t likely to happen soon. Many experts tells us that SEO is here to stay, and I agree.Social-SEO

But SEO is changing rapidly, and one of the biggest forces driving those changes is the increasingly social nature of the web. (social media)

Search Engine Motivations

One fascinating thing about SEO is the constant change. Most of us experience this through the changes made by the search engines to their results, such as the recent advent of Google Boost. What interests me more is what motivates these changes?

We could provide the simplistic answer of “increasing profits,” which would be correct, but it isn’t sufficient. It may sound trite, but the answer for both search engines is increased user satisfaction.

In Google’s case, this is measured by click-through rates, low bounce rates, and a variety of other metrics. These types of metrics are seen by the search engines as social signals.

Google’s sources for this data include: Google Analytics, the Google Toolbar, Custom Search Engines, and user behavior within the search engine itself. Data available to everyone includes user engagement with social media sites. Google has more access to data on user behavior than any other entity on the planet.

Some of you may think I’m missing the fact that large companies are inherently evil and Google is no exception. Let’s not debate that point. The profit motive of Google (and Bing as well) is well served by high levels of customer satisfaction.

Google’s huge market share is the key source of its profits, and they have a huge disincentive to drive down that market share. If you were Google, would you make changes that increase your profits today by 5 percent if you knew that you would lose 10 percent in market share over the next year, probably to an extremely dangerous competitor, such as Bing or Facebook? No.

That market share is the golden goose that drives profits. Google wants to maintain or increase that market share by using the enormous amounts of data it has to constantly test new ideas and increase user satisfaction.

bing&facebookWith Bing and Facebook pushing new and innovative ideas, the pressure is enormous. Users aren’t compelled to use Google, and all these services are free, so switching costs are low. Don’t piss me off Google, or I’ll take my searches elsewhere!

Social Sites

Another aspect is the interactions on social media sites. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are the obvious examples, but there are also user reviews, comments in various forums, spam complaints, blog postings, news articles, and more. These all provide signals to the search engines.

Volume of activity is one signal. Lots of references to your site is certainly an interesting data point, but sentiment analysis also allows search engines to get a signal as to whether people like what you’re doing. Sentiment analysis may not be in active use by the search engines at this time, but it’s hard to believe that it won’t be in the future.

Thinking about a spammy link campaign? Think again, because someone might decide to spill the beans on you and start a raging discussion on a blog, or set of blogs, about your site, or do it on a forum somewhere. That would provide negative sentiment signals.

Plan to do some guest posting and provide people with crappy articles because all you care about is the link? Bad idea.

Starting to build thousands of crappy web pages to capture the long tail of search? Could well backfire on you.link-building

In our highly social online environment, the true spam police is us. Our behavior on a web site can impact the way the search engines perceive it.

What we write as comments on a blog post is crawled, interpreted, and read. Is there a risk of manipulating this collection of signals? Not easily.

Social communities guard the sanctity of their environments more thoroughly than any search engine ever could. Spammers still can run a bot that jams thousands of comments into inactive forums and blogs, but the search engines aren’t going to put much weight on that. A discussion involving a popular Twitter user, or on a popular blog like TechCrunch will get a lot more weight.

How Does Social Behavior Affect SEO?

The main impact is on the amount of time you must focus on providing a positive user experience on your web site.

Website conversion optimization is now an important part of SEO. So is a deep understanding of usability and web design. As Kim Krause Berg would argue, a holistic approach to usability and SEO is required.

Traditional SEO thinking would tell us that videos and graphics should be used sparingly, and that text is king. However, the web is a place where instant impressions matter most, and few people want to engage in paragraphs of text.

Put another way, people want visual experiences. If you don’t take the time to do that, what are you? To many, that is the mark of a spammer.

People don’t hang out for long periods of time on sites that they believe are spam. This may not be entirely fair, but the judge and jury is the user.

This doesn’t mean that text is dead. It still plays a big role in driving the long tail, and providing the search engines with context that they can’t get from other signals. So you should have text as a part of your pages, but if you implement large gobs of text on the page you may drive users away and hurt your SEO results to boot.

Balance is key. In addition, there are some types of pages where large quantities of text are highly desirable. Someone who just found out they have cancer will want to read everything they can get on the topic.

From a link building perspective, it’s important to provide value wherever you go. Give them something valuable to link to. Or, if you’re giving them an article, give them good stuff to post.

Is that guest post something that someone might tweet? If you spew a hundred articles out in guest posts and no one ever tweets any of them, you’ve just provided a signal of low quality user experiences that reflects poorly on your site.

Embrace the Social WebThe Social Web

Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. Embrace the social web, feed it good stuff, and it will embrace you back.

This isn’t meant as a “build and they will come” statement. You need to actively promote your stuff. You need to tell the world about it.

But, if you’re truly a contributor, no one will mind. In fact, they will jump right in and do some promoting for you. Now that’s a positive signal!


How will Social Media transform the SEO Industry

Facebook and Bing announced last week an agreement that would allow Microsoft’s search engine to return results based on the Facebook “Likes” of the searcher’s friends. Additionally, Google recently began including Twitter updates in its search returns. It’s a natural innovation that fits into the business models of both companies and takes the trend of individualized search results to its next logical level: results tailored to the searcher’s existing social footprint.

SEO insiders have wondered whether this new search innovation would affect placement strategies. And the simple answer is: yes. Yes, there will be changes to the way SEO professionals run their clients’ campaigns. Yes, this will affect the industry as a whole. And yes, we believe SEO professionals will have to adapt to meet ever-evolving needs.

 


Changing the Method, Not the Mission

But to think that this development is rocking the SEO world is to misunderstand the realities of the industry. In its roughly 15 years of existence, SEO has grown from being a small wildcat operation run by webmasters and content services to being one of the most dynamic, fast-growing sectors of the tech market. The reason for this rapid growth is because — not in spite –- of the constantly evolving nature of search engines.

Of course, as with any complex question about a dynamically evolving industry, there is a caveat. While the Bing-Facebook agreement and the recent updates to Google will change elements of how we do our business, the fundamentals will remain the same. As much as innovation shapes the day-to-day processes of optimization, the core foundations of the industry remain unchanged. The goal was — and still is — putting clients at the top of results pages, whether this is through organic search, paid search or social media.

Social media is nothing new in the world of online marketing. Facebook alone has 500 million users. We have already seen certain Twitter feeds included in Google search results. Before long, results may integrate other social networking sites, like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and myriad other sites that haven’t even been developed yet. For SEO professionals, this change highlights the need to integrate social networking if they haven’t already.

The Bing-Facebook agreement is indicative of the many changes that have taken SEO from a small-time game to a major, innovative industry. SEO is not about counter-punching, and it’s not about simply reacting to the changing search-engine landscape. Instead, it is about growing alongside search engines. It is about evolving with them to ensure that searchers get the results they need.


SEO Firms Must Become Digital Media Agencies

For years now, successful SEO firms have not been focusing their efforts strictly on organic search results. They’ve been steadily evolving along with changes in search engines: new Google algorithms, the emergence of Bing, the development of Google Local, instant searches, paid search, and searchable Twitter feeds. At my company, we believe that to be successful, SEO firms need to become something more advanced: Digital Media Agencies.

A modern DMA resembles an SEO firm from 2002 in the way that a Ferrari resembles a Model T. The basic elements remain the same, but sophistication and complexity have resulted in a better product. DMAs are about handling the many online representation needs of their clients. While top search engine placement remains the major goal, it is just one aspect of what they seek to do. A DMA also seeks to manage a client’s online reputation, create and maintain their social presence, and handle the many other aspects of a client’s online brand.

Will SEO professionals have to change their strategy in reaction to a new social media paradigm? The answer is yes. Their evolution into full-fledged Digital Media Agencies is imperative. And as the social and search industries continue to change, so too will DMAs need to innovate.

For more information on social media marketing or SEO Services feel free to visit us at www.majesticsocialmedia.com

we would also like to thank Joe Devine for the hard work on this blog.


PPC 101

The Changing PPC Landscape and Challenges for the Search Marketer

One could argue that there are three main PPC players right now: Google, Yahoo and MSN. Ask.com has a smaller market share, around 7% (Comscore

PPC 101 from majestic social media-seo

2006) while Google commands around 50% of all the searches. 2nd tier search engines, like Kanoodle, Dogpile and Mamma, niche business search engines like Business.com, or even PPC networks such as Quigo, give us as search marketers many options for our paid search advertising.

However, along with all these options come challenges:

  • Data Management and Integration – how do you capture and act on all this data?
  • Targeting Options – Google offers geotargeting, time and day parting, with Yahoo hot on their heels with a similar set of options in their upcoming fall 2006 release. MSN even offers lifestyle targeting and demographic data on their searcher data. How do you properly configure these parameters?
  • Competition – How do you see what your competitors are doing? How much they are bidding?

PPC Optimization Levers

Short vs. Long Term Optimization Levers
Short Term – Done every couple days – examples: adjust CPC bids, monitor/adjust coverage monitor 3rd party PPC tool settings, adjusting budget to adjust coverage
Long Term – This takes more planning and analysis – biweekly or monthly – examples: new text ad creative/offers, study/adapt to competitor ads/creative ideas, adding new keywords, changing overall bidding strategy

Campaign Structure

Having a well organized PPC campaign can help you in several ways:

  • Easier to manage your budgets, targeting and ad positioning settings (Google, MSN)
  • Allows you to quickly see what is going on with your PPC campaigns at the campaign level, before you jump in and get lost right away at a more granular level
  • Organized campaigns lead to better organized ad groups/categories and thus more relevant keywords and higher response rates.

 

For more information on how Majestic Social Media can help you with your PPC needs please visit www.majesticsocialmedia.com
We would like to thank our friends at www.outofboundscommunications.com for this blog.


Social Video Marketing


How to get 1,000 Twitter followers a week for FREE

How to get 1,000 Twitter followers a week for FREE on Auto pilot.

Twitter is one of the most powerful social marketing tools available today. If you have a business, either online or offline, having a Twitter account is a must.
The problem is that unless you are a celebrity who has millions of people just waiting to hear about their next bath room break, you need to get followers to listen to you.

There are tons of tools out there that will get you followers, and most of them come at a cost. I have come across three tools that are totally free and have helped me to get lots of followers.
Those three tools are Google Alerts, Twitter feed and Social Oomph and this is how I use them. First, and probably the most important step is to use Google Alerts to set up feeds to send out from your Twitter account that people will want to read. Choose your keywords and phrases carefully because the more popular the articles that Google Alerts finds for you, the more people that will like what you have to say and want to follow you.
The next step is go out to Twitter feed and tie the alerts that you just created to your Twitter account. You can set up lots of different feeds and have them posted at different intervals during the day. The last thing that I do, is to use Social Oomph to welcome all of my new followers with a special welcome message. I also use it to schedule special messages through out the day.
The last trick that I use is to have multiple Twitter accounts. This allows me to target people with totally different subject matter.

I must give credit where credit is due. First, I need to thank my MLSP mentor for pointing me to these resources and Bob Howard for putting together the tutorials. If you have any questions on how to set up these tools up, follow this link http://www.majesticsocialmedia.com