Up until now social networks and search engine optimisation (SEO) have been two different pairs of shoes for most companies. But after the launch of Google+ and Mark Zuckerberg’s annoucement to invest in Facebook Search it becomes obvious that both things cannot be treated separately, anymore. On the contrary, something new emerges from the merging of social networks and SEO – Social Search.
The term Social Search describes the increasing emphasis social networks have on search engine requests, i.e. how social networks influence search engine results. Social Search prioritises content that has a certain social media reference to the user. That reference can be quite diverse, though. On one hand, it is generated by the user’s own activities in social networks. On the other hand, so called social influencers continuously send out social signals, such as shares, likes or comments, and even though they are not directly connected to the user they also generate social media reference.
Does it mean that current SEO strategies should be put aside? Is Facebook, Google+, etc. the big thing to go for? No, in fact that would be a serious mistake. Social signals are rather to be understood as additional value as it makes content and brands more relevant, more interesting and more available to a larger target group. The increased reach generates more traffic and web links that eventually positively contribute to the search engine ranking. Thus, social networks are a benefical side effect in terms of SEO. In order to use it most efficiently, the continous management of the social networks is absolutely essential. According to Matt Cutts, head of the Google webspam team, companies should be “all social, all the time”.
Nevertheless, the most important thing has to be kept in mind – qualitative, target group-relavant content. It is the centerpiece of every website, everything else is “accessories”. No matter what features or developments might change the web in the near future, with good content there is nothing to worry about.