Once upon a time, "the old SEO" ruled the website marketing world. This was during the early, pioneering days of online marketing -- before it was typical for a small business to have a website and long before your grandmother had an online presence that could rival a teenager. The old SEO strategy centered around one primary factor: Link Building. But today, link building as a direct SEO tactic is completely dead. The fact is, Google has found smarter ways to measure the popularity of your website: it's called social media.
The fact that social media is critical to your online presence (and your search engine rankings) is often a tough pill for small business owners to swallow. It can be a difficult marketing strategy to measure, and it can seem like a strange way to grow their business.
But the days of easily measuring your SEO strategy are long gone. It's no longer about building X amount of links and creating Y amount of optimized content pages on your website. These old approaches to getting search engine attention are very static. The new strategy is about being dynamic, engaged, and interactive within your marketplace. Social media is the only place you can make that happen.
Here are six reasons social media needs to be an important part of your website marketing and SEO strategy for years to come:
Think about it - why did Google ever allow links to determine which websites ranked above all the others? The answer is simple: links were like "votes" for your website. The more votes you get, the better off you are. So SEO companies started building links (aka "votes") manually. Then, Google -- to counter all of the fake voting -- figured out that some votes should count more than other votes. So SEO companies went around manufacturing websites with the best votes. And Google, finally, realized that SEO link building would never work long-term for ranking websites. So Google started penalizing websites with "fake votes" (which is basically anyone who pays a company to do SEO link building for them). Seeing a trend here? The idea behind links as a ranking factor is a very good idea, but since it's become so easy to manipulate, Google has been forced to turn to social media channels which do the same thing but are much harder to manipulate. Link building was always about social proofing.
When you have a following on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, you create a team of fans who can share your content. That's what social media is all about, folks -- being social! (Imagine that.) So when you write a new blog post on your business blog, you can take that content and share it on Twitter and then get some of your followers to share your content. You can also get your website visitors to share pages of your site and your blog on social media by adding simple social buttons to allow people to quickly and easily "vote" for your content right there on your website. Sure, many of these people will never become your actual customers, but that's not your objective here. Your objective is to build buzz and attention around your website.
The problem with old school SEO link building is your always building "signs" to your website in places where nobody is looking. It's something like buying a billboard in the desert. Social media, on the other hand, is a dynamic world of interaction and activity where things are constantly happening in real time. This is why it's so crucial that you have a social media PRESENCE -- not just social media accounts where you never or rarely post anything. You've got to be active, you've got to be social. This is the fastest way to multiply your online presence simply because it's where everyone is. If you get in front of the right people (which is a matter of consistency, not luck) then you can build some buzz around your business and your website.
I'm sure you've heard the term "social signals" floating around out there. Love it or hate it, this is a real thing. Google is definitely measuring your website's "pulse rate" on social media channels. How often do you share content on social channels? How often do people visit your website for social channels? How many fans/followers do you have? Does your website have social sharing elements available for visitors? Social signals really is the new "link building" metric you should be concerned about and worried about. Forget about how many links you have -- especially if you're building fake links -- and start worrying about the health of your social media presence.
95% (or more) of links from SEO link building never bring a single new visitor to your website. They just sit out there pointing to your site and not really doing anything else at all. This was the other major revelation Google had: They realized that by promoting links as a way to popularize your website, they were creating a web filled with spam and junk all designed to get more links (and only that). Most SEO companies build links on sites that will never bring you an actual customer. They're just fabricating links to try and boost your search engine positions. Now that it doesn't work, you're basically throwing money down a drain every time you pay for link building. Social links, on the other hand, have the real potential to bring real people into your website AND into your social followers or social circles. This means at some point these people could very well turn into a customer or a content promoter for your business.
The bottom-line is link building doesn't help your search engine rankings. In fact, it could hurt you far more than it will ever help you. Google has been very clear about this - stop building fake links to your website and start focusing on providing value and being of value within your marketplace. Social media is the very best place to achieve that goal online today.
So there you have it - 6 reasons social media needs to play an important role in your search engine rankings strategy. At the end of the day, search engine rankings are still very critical to your long-term success online. Don't make the mistake of investing in shady, short-term practices and risk hurting your business long term.
Get on the right SEO track today and start building a more authentic social media presence today!