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SEO means more than just Search Engine Optimization; it also means Start Engaging Others.

But, why should you be engaging your employees, your customers, your potential customers, even your competition?  To boost rankings, of course!  Wielding Social Media as a tool of mass connectivity is the future of SEO.  Gone are the days of only link building on high PR pages (quantity over quality).  Say hello to SEO in 2011: connections beyond links and on-page factors.

We know that Google and Bing (masters of the SEO universe) both take into account social networking indicators in their ranking algorithms.  In a recent interview with Danny Sullivan, Google stated that it uses Author Authority in its Real Time Search “Top Links” section.  That authority is taken directly from Twitter and Facebook. Google also uses Twitter to determine interest in current and news events. This is great news for those of us sharing relevant content but bad news for people trying to keep their activities under the radar (see Lindsay Lohan in and out of rehab, again).

Twitter is actually more accurate than the box office regarding the success of a movie.  Will the next Twilight movie bomb or will the female population continue to swoon over fangs and temper management? Twitter holds the answer.  But, what about the indirect effects? Anchor-text rich links are attention markers indicating to search engine spiders what website is best for a user’s search.  As a website is linked to more and more, it gains ranking in the SERPs.  These links are essentially votes. The incorporation of Social Media into ranking means that anchor-text links are just one way to vote.  Now people are able to vote with Facebook likes, tweets, retweets, etc.

Attention generates commentary, articles, and conversation.  Every mention, Facebook like, and retweet helps rank organically while simultaneously adding to authority.  That authority is key for SEO.

So, how do you go about getting authority?  Social networking.  Many business people are terrified of the fire-breathing dragon that is social networking; allow me to re-assure you that it is no different than old school networking; the same rules still apply, it has just been transferred online.  Online is better because you can do business while in your pajamas and with uncombed hair.

Start by defining your audience.  Take it a step further and determine who talks to and influences that audience.  Once you’ve identified those key players, develop a relationship with them.  Retweet their blog posts, like their Facebook pages, and respond (quickly) to any questions that they ask with relevant information.  Establish yourself as resourceful, knowledgeable, and approachable.  Make sure you are you; nothing is more unattractive than false advertising.

The next step towards authority: create content worth sharing.  What interests your audience? What will they find useful and relevant?  This is no longer about what you want but is best for your audience.  They have the ultimate say in what gets passed on and what doesn’t and should be the focus of every message you send out.  According to Kyle Lacey, author of Twitter Marketing for Dummies, a good formula to adhere to when contributing to your twitter feed is:

  • ¼ content about you or your business
  • ¼ about your industry
  • ¼ should be about your partners, clients, and successes, and
  • ¼ should be conversation

Of course, you need to know some other “rules of the road.”  Share creative content from other trusted sources. Never forward any information without reading it entirely; by sharing, you are endorsing the content. Part of having true authority, not perceived authority, is sharing the spotlight with others in your circle of influence.  Keep in mind that just because someone isn’t considered an authority right now does not mean they will always be that way; sharing others content will ensure your content is also shared.

Make sure you or someone you trust monitor what is said via Social Media, as well as what others are saying about you. Even if you don’t join the conversation it is being said anyway; it’s better to know than to be in the dark.  You have to know about fires if you want to be able to put them out.


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