The Social SEO [R]evolution
The use of social SEO is heavily debated throughout the digital marketing industry, as strategists and marketers argue whether signals produced by social media sharing generate the same type of influence as traditional contextual links.
Social SEO is a system of website activity supported by social media channels as a means to catalyze opportunities derived from more traditional SEO strategies. Affected strategies include word of mouth advertisement, organic visibility, organic traffic, referral traffic and link acquisition.
The Evolution of Links
For websites to increase their rankings, they must be seen as authoritative and credible by each search engine. Therefore, SEO strategists are tasked with the responsibility of attracting inbound links from other relevant websites that are recognized as highly credible in their field or industry.
The process for obtaining new inbound links has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years.
Google and other search engines have released specific updates to their algorithm (Penguin) which identify and target manual tactics. Manual tactics manipulate users by connecting to third-party websites that are irrelevant to the focus of the original website, contain malicious or damaging content, or appear as though they may be spam.
Where strategists were once able to increase their organic rankings by embedding thousands of links across irrelevant directories and spam sites via manual tactics, these strategies can now lead to a website being penalized or completely removed from a search index.
Today, link building is often referred to as “Link Earning” because strategists are required to personally reach out to other relevant industry authorities in hopes that they can set up some partnership built upon direct communication and trust.
As you can imagine, this can be an enormous effort that takes much time and many resources to execute.
Why Social SEO Is so Attractive
Considering how easy it is to share and reshare content through social media channels, the concept of social SEO is extremely attractive for those interested in developing a client's backlink portfolio.
The idea is that if one particular piece of content is shared by the masses, the link connected to your content will be re-posted and embedded across thousands of platforms and thus the site's rankings will improve.
But is this the case? Do links positioned through social channels have the same effect on organic rankings versus traditional links?
Social SEO Isn't the Perfect Solution for Long-term Rankings
It's important to keep in mind that even if you can attract millions of shares for content that is published on authoritative websites, success at maintaining first page rankings on a permanent basis is not implicit.
The only way those first page rankings will be maintained is if you optimized a particular piece of content around a keyword or phrase that is not referenced or used by others online.
Choosing Link Earning Over Social SEO?
SEO strategists that incorporate both social SEO and traditional link earning in ongoing campaigns will have the most success maximizing immediate traffic and maintaining premier rankings for the long term.
Strategists should experiment with these concepts before implementing either tactic with set expectations, as it takes time to observe whether relevant third-party connections are going to provide enough authority to help a link climb the social media ladder. Building a robust, pertinent social audience that will respond to your content in a meaningful way is time consuming.
With enough practice and networking, a strategist will eventually be able to manage an SEO campaign that truly maximizes opportunities via qualified traffic, keyword rankings, user engagement, and online conversions.
Julian Scott Connors is an experienced search marketing director who has developed complex, wide-scale search and social campaigns for brands that include: P&G, The Source, Papa Johns, GiveSmart, and more.
A published author on the concept of "Social SEO", Connors contributes to a number of recognized publications and speaks are digital marketing conferences throughout the country.