datastreamToday’s guest post comes from SmartBrief on Social Media reader Bill Sebald, SEO consultant and agency SEO manager at TrueAction. His blog about SEO trends and SEO for non-SEO marketers is a useful resource about search engine optimization for business and e-commerce.

In the past few days, I’ve seen a number of people asking the question, “Is SEO dead?” This seems to be a hot question at the moment, but it’s been a hot question several times before. Search engine optimization never went away — it has just evolved with the rise of social media. A handy way to think about the new iteration of SEO is as searchable content optimization. Relevance to groups, emotionally connected content and topic authority are the keys to SEO today.

Some things we now accept about SEO:

  • Personalized/social search is giving us exclusive rankings based on our own worlds. Search engines want to start serving results based on intent, so they’re trying to learn more about our habits and interests.
  • Search engines want to take freshness into account.
  • Search engines value the editorial aspects of the “democratic” Web highly and want to get better at contextual reading.
  • Google wants to own the concept of real-time search before Twitter search gets the market share (they may have just kicked open the door with their new constantly scrolling results on certain result pages).
  • Search engines are working on ways to consider “reputation,” based on social graphs, as a factor in rankings.
  • Search engines want to provide their users with quality and value. SEO experts need to provide quality and value to their users. SEO is marketing — plain and simple.

Strategies such as optimizing title tags and H1 tags are vastly less powerful than they once were. Getting quality backlinks is still important, but the value of PageRank is fuzzier because there are so many Web sites to contend with. It’s getting harder and harder to make qualified decisions on link partners.

At the same time, search engines are learning to read Flash, JavaScript, and complex URLs — they know it’s their responsibility to get the information people want out of even the most poorly constructed sites. The technical side of SEO –making a site more crawlable and readable — is still important. But it’s a much smaller priority, in my opinion.

Given all that, here are a few tips for optimizing your searchable content:

  1. Use social media to market your articles and products. Aim to create conversations, generate opinions, and above all, make yourself a participating member.
  2. Reach out to bloggers via your social networks so they see your content. If it’s valuable to them, they may blog about it with a backlink. This is a golden opportunity to expand your network.
  3. Use a variety of social networks to dominate the top positions for your keywords within universal search. For example, produce and optimize videos, images, news releases, Digg listings and blog posts. Most searchers don’t get to the second page of a search engine result page. They tend to refine their query instead. If your content truly satisfies the first time, they won’t need to search again.

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4 Responses to “Blurring the Line Between SEO and Social Media”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Inspired Magazine, Productive I.T.. Productive I.T. said: RT @inspiredmag: Blurring the Line Between SEO and Social Media http://ow.ly/16iqUY [...]

  2. Rob Birgfeld says:

    Interesting post Bill. I think we’re all being forced to learn the direct relationship between social and search optimization.

    One not-so-hypothetical question to tip #3: “Use a variety of social networks to dominate the top positions for your keywords within universal search.”

    Isn’t there a danger of allowing the strength of a social profile or account to overtake your brand’s high ranking? For instance, if I’m “Rob’s Shirt Co.” and I’m selling t-shirts on my site–I want people to go directly to my site to check out my goods. If my new Twitter or Facebook presence overtakes the top spot (over even just dilutes the results), am I hurting the potential for a sale?

    These are the questions I’m seeing asked more frequently– especially now that we see real-time search results getting even more prominence.

    Thanks!

  3. Bill Sebald says:

    @Rob

    In reality, those profiles/accounts should be extensions of your ecommerce site. The logical linking structure (where everything funnels back to the ecommerce site) will usually signal to Google which listing is “the boss,” effectively ranking your ecommerce first, then pushing down your competition under the fold.

    If that doesn’t happen naturally, you’re still in control. Since you can edit those top 5 listings, you can make some tweaks to float your ecommerce site to the top for better exposure. That top ranking becomes a lot more accessible.

    I think the great benefit is that you’re using those listings to really advertise your brand in the search engine result pages, more than any paid search ad could do. You’ll be promoting your products, your values, your popularity, your customer service abilities, and anything else you let your social profiles speak for.

  4. Chris says:

    Great post. I don't believe SEO is dead. Even with personalised results SEO will be the same important