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No matter if your business is big or small, you cannot avoid creating a strategic social media plan to compliment your SEO and other marketing efforts.

Let’s go over why… right now!

Real-Time Search Engines Want FRESH Content And They Want It Fast!

Fast content doesn’t mean crap content. Search engines are becoming very smart. They want authoritative content, and they will use social media as a signal for this type of content. As they say, cream will rise to the top!

How and where users click and specifically share your content via social media are all cues to search engines to validate authority of your word on the web.

What kind of content is good?

  • Content that answers popular questions: Hang out with your sales teams and your account executives for a day and see the questions they get asked over and over again. If clients or prospects are asking questions on the phone, they are likely asking Google or Bing as well. So have the answers there for them to click on and take action!
  • Newsworthy content: Create your own news that people could care about and share. Do not try and be too self promotional here though. No one likes “look how neat we are” content.
  • Ride the news, a.k.a “News Jacking”: Current events, holidays or breaking news. What spin can you take, so that your customers and prospects would thank you for what you wrote and be willing to share?
  • And so much more…

What Search Engines Look At In Regards To Social Media

Are you familiar with the Social Graph and social patterns? Here are just a few signals that search engines look at to “rank” the content on your website:

  • Your social followers, who you follow, your likes, your replies.
  • How many social followers/fans you have.
  • How many re-tweets, shares, +1s, etc.
  • Who is sharing your content, and what is their authority and reputation.
  • Popularity of particular content as well as the quality of it.
  • Timeliness and trust of content.
  • Patterns: Both natural and unnatural.

Pro Tip: Don’t be unnatural in your social sharing. You remember link farms right? Well, now many people have created social farms to help spread their content. Do you think the search engines like Google and Bing do not notice this? Think again! It stands out like a sore thumb to Google and Bing. If you get caught, you may as well kiss your hard work and rankings good-bye, as well as the money or leads associated with those rankings. There is no room for being shady in today’s marketing world!

Invest In Social:

Social media should no longer be an afterthought for businesses. A successful social media campaign takes time, strategy, planning, testing and attention. Here’s a brief outline for how to “invest” in social:

  • Create a social media plan
    • Create a content production calendar.
    • Produce engaging content: Blogs, videos, digital downloads, etc.
    • Monitor and see what works, check trends, and produce more of that content.
    • Monior important metrics.
  • Make sharing easy
    • Make sure you have social sharing buttons on your site.
    • Share your content on the main networks you plan on using (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
    • Monitor those sharing your content, and reward them. (A simple “thank you” goes a long way and helps to build trust.)
  • Be the expert in your field
    • Share related content and ideas that users can trust. Don’t be a fire hose of “me-me-me” all the time.
    • Answer questions and address comments you get as fast as you can.

The Future of Social & SEO

Look what is going on now with Facebook. They are rolling out their own search engine. Twitter has had something people could use for quite some time, and LinkedIn and Quora have search capabilities too.

SEO will become more than just traditional on-site SEO (in my mind)… yes, the basics will always have to be done, but I think that if there is a search box on any site or platform, there will always be something to optimize within that particular search engine optimization strategy.

The Future Is Relationships!

Breaking News: Business 101 comes to search engines. Build out REAL relationships and trust with people. Focus on building content people care about and want to know. Create content that someone would thank you for, and content that compels people to click the “share” button.

Social word of mouth: What was the old saying- one unhappy customer tells ten how awful their experience was, but one happy person usually keeps it to themselves, or tells only few? In this social age, you can flip that script, and put the odds back in your favor! There are many ways you can do this, and I will focus more on this in future posts.

However, one thing to do right now, is set up your Google authorship profile, and make sure your Google+ page s up to date, and that you have your author pages tied to your G+ profile marking where you contribute. You can read more on how to do that here.

With all this being said, social signals are only a few of thousands of signals for organic ranking… but is it something you should ignore? Is social a fad that will go away? The answer to both is NO!

Looking at what Google and Bing are doing now, you can bet that social media will become more and more a factor in the SERPs in the weeks, months and years to come.

Lastly, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your social portfolio.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think on the subject?

Do you have a topic you would like me to cover?

Hit me up in the comments below, or on Twitter.

Until next time…

Post by Darin Berntson, Senior Community Manager at SEO.com.