The inevitable and necessary integration of search engine site optimization and social media is picking up speed. Another significant development—an update to the Google Penguin algorithm–is expected soon.

Social Media and Search Engine Optimization: The Story So Far

Once upon a time, the novelty of returning a list of links to websites offering information, products or services relevant to a search query was amazing. It is now mundane.

Today, a Facebook user can take a few moments to post a query on Facebook such as, “Where should I take my mom to get her hair done?” and get dozens of results from people she trusts and who know intimate details like personal preferences, income level and ancillary interests (“You will love the antiques shop next door to this place!”) This provides a much richer experience than a list of links, even to websites that offer reviews—because the searcher has no relationship with those people.

Milestones in this evolution include:

  • Online Review Websites such as Google Places (now Google Plus Business Pages) and Yelp allow account holders to post comments about their experiences.
  • Google attempts to acquire Facebook’s user behavioral data. Unsuccessful, Google creates the Google+ social network to begin to collect similar data for incorporation into its search algorithm, i.e. to provide increasingly personalized search results.
  • Facebook’s Graph Search provides deeper functionality to Facebook’s search function, enabling users to search for direct connections who have had experiences with specific companies, products, etc.

Social Media and Search Engine Optimization: The Story Today
SEO professionals have long suspected search engine algorithms are increasingly emphasizing social media, giving greater authority and higher search rank to web pages and domains that acquire Facebook shares, Google +1’s, tweets, re-tweets, etc. This is expected to be a significant component of Google’s next Penguin update, which by the time you read this may have already happened.

In addition to making perfect sense, this pushes the Internet closer to reflecting what actually happens in the real world. Social media is the online manifestation of human interaction. Referrals are generated by conduct and results; not by one’s ability to game the system. Search engine optimization has only this direction in which to go.

How to use this Information
Social media’s importance in search engine optimization is increasing. If improving your website’s search rank is one of your marketing goals—and it probably should be—integrate SEO with your Social Media Marketing Strategy Plan.

Social media has never existed in a silo. Now, integrating it with website content generation and publishing plan is a fundamental component of SEO and improving your search rank.

Create valuable content. Market it through social media. Enjoy.