It should come as no shock that social media is the new hot button word in the SEO field. Starting out as a cool new way to drive traffic, social media has quickly spiraled into an SEO tactic that may well become a vital strategy for long term ranking improvements. At least that is the opinion of some big wigs in the field. This article from Search Engine Land talks about what the future of Social Media might look like.
I’m inclined to agree with this article. There are a lot of positives that can be gained from leveraging a social media marketing campaign in conjunction with a good organic optimization strategy. Right now I feel like the two compliment each other very well and work well together for most businesses. As it stands right now, most people are using social media as a technique to drive more traffic to their main site and learn more about their customer base by interacting with those customers directly. But as social media becomes more and more popular, I think we will see the way search engines rank social media links start to change.
The article uses YouTube as a good example of how these search engine algorithms may change. YouTube is the second largest search engine around today, but its ranking system works completely differently than Google’s. YouTube’s rankings are determined almost exclusively by what we refer to as “community factors” meaning the social aspect of YouTube determines which videos rank for what keywords. Using the community as a point of reference, YouTube analyzes the number of comments, the number of times the video has been embedded in another site, the number of links that point to that video, and the number of views as a way to rank its results.
I feel this will start to play a bigger roll in organic search results soon enough. While inbound links from other high authority URLs will still hold a lot of weight, soon the links received from social media platforms like twitter, facebook, and linkedin might hold more weight as well. These “votes” from social sites, if processed correctly could hold for a truer opinion of what users feel is valuable content on the web. Of course spam is, and always will be an issue, but social media users are savvier than they used to be, and for the most part they do not take kindly to spam campaigns, and the negative backlash associated with spam on sites like Digg and Reddit is no joke.
Social Media is an excellent way to get involved with your customers, as well as drive traffic to your site. But it’s no secret that as it grows in popularity, those businesses that have a solid understanding of social media, and are active in the platforms will have a leg up as the search engines evolve how they rank links from social media sites.