The web is currently alive with talk of the evolution of social marketing. With new social plugins expected in the form of the “Send” button from Facebook and the “+1” button from Google, it feels like there is a change in the air regarding the way that people find the websites and information they are looking for online.
With social seemingly gaining momentum and arguments over whether you need to hire social media experts circling the web (for http://www.seomoz.org/blog/everyone-should-hire-social-media-experts and against http://shankman.com/i-will-never-hire-a-social-media-expert-and-neither-should-you/), is the future going to see a move away from more traditional forms of SEO in favour of a more socially driven internet experience? If your career is based in SEO, do you need to get more social to survive? Let’s take a look at the state of the industry and see where the future of web marketing lies.
Social networks are enjoying the very peak of success at the moment, with Facebook users increasing all of the time and Twitter gaining more followers as it becomes the ultimate resource for keeping up to date with the latest news stories.
More and more companies are turning to social media as a way of promoting themselves, looking to gain a loyal following of customers and build their brand via viral campaigns fuelled by social success.
Social media is even starting to play a role in search engine ranking factors and so even the staunchest social critics will have to wake up to its inevitable influence on web marketing.
SEO is going through something of an evolution at present, with the traditional format of a well optimised site combined with the right quantity and quality of links being challenged by the ever increasing rise in popularity of social media.
There are indications of a change in the way that the search engines treat social media as a ranking factor, with Bing admitting that it uses Facebook “Likes” as a factor when ordering its rankings and Google rolling out changes to the SERPS that lists sites that have been recommended by your social following.
It seems that with the obvious popularity of the social networks they will start to play a more and more important role in the future of SEO, with social ranking factors becoming almost impossible to ignore. They are however potentially open to even more manipulation than is seen from standard linking at the moment, so expect the search engines to be a little cautious before they throw their doors open to social ranking factors.
In summary, the world of web marketing will continue to go through some big changes over the next few years as the big players in search and social both jostle to find their place in the new look web. Rather than viewing search and social as two separate entities, they should both be viewed under the same umbrella of web marketing if those in the industry are going to succeed.
In such a fast moving industry, favouring one over the other will only lead to being left behind as the internet continues to evolve before our eyes and future success will rely on a deep understanding of how social and SEO can work together in delivering results for the people who pay your wages.
The time for viewing SEO and social as being separate is over, and SEO professionals are going to have to get a whole lot more social if they are going to continue to offer the best and most relevant service to their clients.