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Social Media – The New SEO?

The practice of search engine optimization continues to change and expand as Google adjusts, tweaks and revamps its algorithm to further enhance user search experience. We have seen Google continually dismantle every black hat technique while eliminating any personal bias from website owners. The future of SEO is trending towards an extreme shift from “business as usual” to nearly 100% weight placed on users and their opinions.

As a result of this massive shift, social media has become an integral part of SEO today and it will continue to be interwoven with SEO as time goes on. Matt Cutts of the Google Web Search Quality Team has already announced late last year that social network signals from Twitter and Facebook would be factored into Google’s algorithms. At the time, Google announced that social signals were weighted lightly but they may increase over time.

Social media is no longer about tweeting to friends and posting family vacation photos on Facebook.  It has even extended beyond business profiles and brand awareness.

Social media is now infiltrating Google’s algorithms.

Why do you think Google recently launched its Google+ network? From a business point of view, by creating a proprietary network, you have more control over features, and Google can more easily include these features into its algorithms. Google has also incorporated Google+ into all of its other products. With Google having its hand in social media, it will now be able to more effectively include social media factors into its algorithm. The Google +1 is a small example of the beginning of this movement. Of course, some of this is opinion, but you can’t deny that the trends are heading in that direction.

As internet marketers, it’s wise to get involved with where you see the internet going even before it arrives at that place. There is no doubt that social media has exploded in recent years and the advent of Google+ solidifies where social media is headed.

A Shift from “Me” Centered to “User” Centered

If you have followed Google and its tactics for a while, you will notice some repeatable trends. Ten to fifteen years ago, webmasters were stuffing their pages with hidden keywords in an attempt to rank high. Google noticed this and started penalizing these sites. Webmasters continued to try and beat the system and they included excessive links and keywords on their actual web pages in an attempt to rank. They were shot down again. This back and forth has been going on for years.

Marketers will manipulate their sites to please Google and then Google changes the rules. Why? Google wants to rank its websites based on users’ opinions, not the opinions of the owners of the websites. That is the reason why external linking became such a strong ranking factor in the past. But now, even with paid links and other “shady” practices, Google continues to come up with new and improved ways to enhance the user experience.

Social media is the newest tool in Google’s arsenal to take the power out of the webmaster’s hand and his/her ability to manipulate the system. It forces those who want to rank high, to truly offer value to the internet community. If you want to achieve high rankings or even maintain your position, it may be in your best interest to start sharing valuable information and becoming a part of the social climate. Shift your strategy and focus from “me” centered to “user” centered and you will do well in outlasting all of Google’s updates.

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