Live from Pubcon Vegas: How do Social Media & Search Intersect?

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Nov 11, 2009
More Articles by Janet

I was very excited to attend this session with some of the top names in search and social today to get their opinions on how social media affects search.

Lee Odden

First up was Lee Odden of Top Rank Marketing who focused on integrating search and social. Lee started by discussing how quickly social is growing versus other media of the past and why it is so popular. As we all know, it helps build community and influence brand.

Lee said that there is a direct correlation between social media involvement and consumer spending. It’s also not just about making new money, but also saving money, as TransUnion did by saving $2.5M in five months from social network collaboration tools. Lee also said that many small businesses can really see the benefit of social media and gave the example of one restaurant that gets about five new customers a day from social media.

Now why search? Lee shared how SEO is the number one most effective tactic for driving leads and sales, and Zappos shared that SEO and PPC are the number one and two revenue generators for orders.

Lee discussed the the number two search engine is actually YouTube, not Yahoo. So if you’re optimizing for search, consider the social realm too. Lee said that there is a Yin/Yang approach to social and search: Optimize social media for search/link building for SEO through social media.  In other words, either make your social network discoverable or use social to optimize for SEO. Good point.

Many social media efforts are lacking SEO efforts around them. He gave the example of IKEA and the top keywords used in social media for IKEA — IKEA does a good job using the word “furniture” in its social media. And this helps IKEA rank #1 in Google for “furniture”.

Make sure you add a layer of SEO to evaluate tactics for SEO, including social media efforts.

Bill Hartzer

Next up was Bill Hartzer of Vizion Interactive who covered how you can get long term value for SEO from social media.

Bill started by talking about what “old-style” SEO was. It included creating site content, on-page optimization, links, article marketing, etc. The new SEO focuses on creating site content, on-page optmization, but now putting articles and more on our own sites to get “link bait” and get links in to our own sites. You use social media today to get noticed and get attention for your content and link bait.

Keys to successful social media:

  • participate on a regular basis
  • vote and comment often
  • add friends and tweet often
  • put your site in your profile
  • social media has niches — find yours
  • submit information to appropriate niche sites
  • use social media to get noticed
  • use social media to help get contextual links
  • use social media to get market share of links

To get the market share of links means having more links than others. Being first with market share gives you an advantage — it gets you noticed by humans and crawlers, gives humans the ability to link to you and tell others. How do you get the market share of links? Always find the ways in your niche to send out links. The example Bill gave was a news outlet — for instance: react quickly, post content, tweet it, etc.

So key factors for SEO and social:

  • make sure on-site SEO is done
  • create new link bait content on a regular basis
  • participate in social media
  • link bait+social media =market share of links and getting noticed

Tony Adam

Next up was Tony Adam of BillShrink (and formerly of Yahoo!) who covered social media and search and its visibility factor. Tony started by saying that creating content that people want to share is the first key — it has to be GOOD content. Newsworthy content is good as is relevant content. If readers like your content, they’ll share it across various networks like Digg, Facebook and others. Tony added that retweet love helps too.

So where’s the conversion opportunity with social media? So how do you make money? Best way is to have people recommend you. If you’re a local business, for instance, consider using Yelp.

But social media is NOT a replacement for search marketing! You still want to show up in search rankings on your keywords.

The goal is ultimately to stand out. Ultimately, social media creates online visibility.

David Wallace

Last up was David Wallace of SearchRank who covered a case study of how social and search intersect. Does social media prevent the need for search? Absolutely not. Traffic is still primarily referred, by many, via search engines — not social media. But social media is starting to drive more traffic to websites.

Does social media play an important role in search? Many agree that the links and viral nature of links in social media help SEO efforts.

A recent study by eMarketer showed that 99% of online retailers surveyed have or plan to implement a Facebook page. There were similar stats for Twitter in the same audience.

Why are people reluctant to embrace social media?

  1. Blogging — we don’t know what to say
    You can always cover news, hot topics, etc. Cover news in your industry or write commentary. Announce new products/events. Talk about company news.
  2. Gossip — we’re leery of what people might say about us
    People are already talking — shouldn’t you be PART of the conversation?
  3. Oversight — we don’t want to manage social media
    You really have to do it — so you need to embrace a way to do it.

How are companies using social media? To do promotions, spread content, drive draffic, branding, customer service and much more. Use search to stand out and use social to build brand loyalty.

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