Search marketing is big business. And why not? We've worked with clients that can monetize the traffic they get from searches placed in the major engines, as well as the negative impact of bad reviews or otherwise that show up on the first page of these search engines. We've been working in the SEO and SEM industry since Alta Vista (remember that?). The industry (and the major search engines) have come a long way in terms of sophistication, and so has the industry.
The interesting thing is that social media is changing the search marketing industry more so than anything in the past 13 or 14 years. Not only do social media sites, blogs, comments and other social tools effect search rankings (and therefore how companies market through search), but Facebook and Twitter have their own search engines to surface content on their platforms. While Twitter's may be somewhat rudimentary and giving rise to the popular #hastag, Facebook has grown a little more sophisticated as evidenced by their recent presentation on EdgeRank.
Now, this is completely expected. With so much conversation going on in Facebook, it's getting hard to hear anything. Imagine if your newsfeed had everything from everyone you follow (from important stuff to lost sheep in Farmville). You couldn't keep up. So Facebook put an algorithm in place to help decide for you. This blog post isn't to explain what an object or edge is, or how affinity, weight or time decay do to the edge score. For now, let's just go off of the preface that you need to have great content that people interact with recently to show up.
If it isn't heated already, this should super-heat the space for "news feed optimization" or just plain "social media optimization." And it's like the beginning days of search marketing in the search engines all over again. We just have a few new engines (and algorithms) to pay attention to now.
And it matters. Businesses are utilizing social media more and more, and being "found" is crucial. And, like traditional search engines, the basis is understanding the "rules of the game" (the algorithm), but more importantly, coming up with great content. Now, every bit of great content still needs a boost to be seen, for sure. Smartwater didn't just put Jennifer Aniston on YouTube and figure it would go viral. They "seeded" it. It's a great piece. And with some proper PR, social media support, and seeding with influencers, it has over 6 million views in 3 days. Well done.
EdgeRank is just the beginning. The traditional search portals are looking at integrating what they can from the social sites, and the sites themselves will continually work on their algorithms. Social media "optimization" is going to be the thing that the agencies all begin to start touting.
And that's a good thing.
PR and social media disasters are abound these days as companies and agencies continue to relegate their actives to young, inexperienced team members figuring they "know social" more due to their age. Social media is quickly becoming an art AND a science. And that should help shake out some of the so-called "social media experts" in the field. Anyone can create a Facebook page or post on Twitter (or, or, or)…but you start to separate talent when you need engagement and results from your social media activities. Now, you need to account for the algorithm along with creating content that engages, and figuring out a plan to make sure that great content is seen.
It's not easy anymore. And the harder it gets, the better the agencies will have to become. That's good for businesses as there will be fewer (but more qualified) candidates in the industry. Although, it will be interesting when the question moves from "what's your twitter strategy" to "what's your EdgeRank strategy?" At least the second is a pertinent and real question. I don't think many of our competitors would have a good answer to the second.
However, if you would like to know ours, or want us to put one together for you….