When Google announced its very own social platform earlier in 2011, the theories abounded: First, there was “It’s a competitor to Facebook and Twitter.”
Then we heard “It’s for the geeks who use all of Google’s unique applications.”
Not quite, unless Google really wants to hang its future on all three of those folks.
Finally, “It’s a way to gather activity data that can be used to drive search.”
Now we’re talking. Google realized that SEO has changed severely because of social activity, and it happened while they were sitting around tweaking their obsolete code.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. After all, Google’s algorithm includes user behavior data. The company pioneered true organic search technology, and is still the standard setter that every webmaster strives to please. Content-based SEO strategies have long been a thing of the past, thanks to Google.
But there’s no doubt that Google noticed that more and more web activity was based on social sharing, and the associated data was owned by others. Google had your IP address and pretty detailed click data, but Facebook had your name, favorite rock bands, activities, brands, and list of friends, among other items, much of it volunteered. The segmented advertising power this provides is staggering, and Google didn’t have any of it.
Can you say “Writing on the wall?”
In January 2011, Facebook was valued by investor Goldman Sachs at around $50B. Many wondered how the hell a startup with a bunch of pointless time-wasting apps led by a megalomaniac geek could be worth anything like that. For some of us in marketing, it was easy to understand. It was the data.
For the folks at Google, who know marketing better than just about anyone, it was a drop-dead cinch: Get Google+ out there, and quick.
So now here it is: The New SEO. You want inbound links? Social platforms give you an endless supply of them, should you be able to sway crowds to your cause. Which platforms should you use, you ask? How about “As many as humanly possible?”
Are you producing a ton of content on your website and blog but not getting it out there using social tools? Keywords alone won’t cut it anymore. You need activity, so use your content to create buzz.
Are you getting buzz, but it’s not all positive? Such is life, but you need to be online and ready with a social fire drill strategy. And you need to be thick-skinned but able to tread lightly in the social realm.
It’s the customer’s world, you just live in it.
Google will be the search engine of choice for some time to come, so we’re all settled in for a long winter’s night with their rules, but if you’re sitting around waiting for content keywords to work their magic, you’re old school.
We’re long past the “Why should my company get social?” discussion by now, anyway. If your dead-in-the-water SEO strategy isn’t impetus enough, nothing is.