The Link Between Search and Social

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Social media isn't just using Digg and StumbleUpon, as many SEOs would have you believe. Then what is the link between SEO and social media?

There's a huge link, but it isn't a "link" in the form of connecting one site to another -- it's something more basic than even the common hyperlink. It's as simple as this: being found.
Even on social sites, you want to be found. People may not know your name, but if they're searching for a great bistro and you aren't listed in Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Yahoo Travel, you might never be found.

Controlling your name by having a Web site is smart. However, how many people are really searching for your company's name? Unless you're a household name like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, McDonalds' or Hershey's, people most likely won't find your products or service by your name in a search engine these days.

But It Isn't My Site

Companies fear social media sites because they have very little control over what other people say about them on these types of sites.
Get over it.
People say bad things about you offline just as much as online. At least online you have the opportunity to find out why they're saying these bad things about you.
There are more than a few advantages to participating and having a presence in social media sites.

People are increasingly turning to social sites for searches: When a search engine fails to return a relevant result for their search, users look to social sites like Yelp and Twitter (to name just two of many), to find more up-to-date and relevant results for their inquiries.

People believe their friends before they believe a search engine result: If a friend in a social media community has publicly recommended a lawyer, a massage therapist, a restaurant, or any other service provider or product the social community allows reviews of, that friend's review becomes golden. It's more believable because the friend shared their experience and you've come to trust that friend. You don't have a relationship with a search engine.

Social media isn't just a Web page: Increasingly, social media sites are offering different ways to access their communities and information beyond the typical Web page. The iPhone and iPhone Applications (Apps) are fast becoming a point of entry to many social communities. TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook, MySpace, and TweetDeck all have applications that don't require a browser.

Search engine results: A byproduct of being involved in social media is that a lot of times your profiles on those social media sites will rank in the search engines for your business, brand, product or service name that you have worked the profile with. You certainly shouldn't being doing social media just to stack the search engine results. However, it can help thwart attempts by competitors to capitalize on your name.