It’s official! All the social media agencies can rejoice! Social media replaces SEO! News services across the web are reporting that Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn activity now hold a dominate influence in SERP results. It will be a bitter pill for professional SEOs to swallow because it means they may be out of work for good.
It is no secret that Google and the other search engines have been placing more an more value on social signals (the number, frequency and velocity of shares) to gauge the value of a web page. As social networking has become one of the primary function of the Internet, the resulting signals now control page rank like never before. It looks like SEO professionals will need to get more social if they expect to get results for their clients.
Is SEO Dead?
Let’s look at the facts. For several years now, social marketing has gradually consumed a larger and larger share of influence in how websites are ranked. The algorithms of Google, for example, have almost always included a social handshake; but now it looks like social media replaces SEO once and for all. With every “Tweet,” “Like” and “Share,” the Google bots lap up the signals like a 12 pack of Pabst Genuine draft. You can feel something is about to change. It might sound like the new hotness to some, but for marketing types, it’s more like a cold shower.
If you find it hard to believe that social media replaces SEO, just consider how the typical user behaves on the Internet. Most of their day is spent tweeting, texting and checking Facebook updates (while driving) — and that is just your daughter. What about the rest of us?
Image Credit: Search Metrics
A study last year conducted by Search Metrics uncovered a clear shift in the factors of how a page is ranked in the search engine results page. The number of likes, tweets, pluses, shares, etc… do add up and can have a significant impact on how your website ranks.
In another study, a 2012 report on social media published by the respected marketing researchers NM Incite and Nielsen, Internet users spend the majority of their time flitting from Twitter to Facebook to Blogger and back again. Apparently, nothing is as important as posting tweets about your food, pinning your new outfit on Pinterest, or bragging about a new gadget you just bought on Google+. It is clear that social media has completely captured the hearts and minds of people everywhere.
The Coming Social Media Apocalypse
Prepare yourself for death incarnate because what happens next will cut to the bone. All of the SEO agencies in the coming years will no doubt rush to become “Social Agencies” and link spam will now become social feed spam. Expect to see massive amounts of affiliate offers, over optimized, badly written social updates in broken English that will flow like a river of misery into your social streams for eternity. You have to ask yourself, “Is this what I really wanted?!”.
The river of pain ahead will be a gaggle of mindless social media weenies intent on letting you know everything they had for lunch, what they like, what they don’t like – and you MUST like it. Because if you don’t, you simply won’t rank. Your business will go under overnight, falling to the waste-side of other businesses that spent their time playing on Facebook and Twitter. We’re going to hell in a hand basket! Fire and brimstone I tell you!
Does all this sound just a little bit insane? Can it really be true that social media replaces SEO? Well, if you know anything about SEO or Social Media current day, your instincts are right.
Of course it’s not true! April Fools! Although social media marketing is a contributing factor in the process of search engine optimization, it would be completely irresponsible to conduct an internet marketing campaign these days strictly through social media alone.
Those who believe social media replaces SEO are just fooling themselves. Some people still think link directories and comment spam is a good idea too, but they are also wrong. If you spend 100 percent of your marketing budget on social media marketing, your chances of reaching the top of the SERPs for a competitive keyword are slim to none.
You will probably make a lot of new “friends,” and perhaps that is all that is important to you, but being cool rarely pays the rent the last time I checked.
Across the Internet, bloggers and marketers continue to hype the idea that SEO is dead, but the pros know better.
While social signals are having more and more influence in how a website is ranked, as Matt Cutts said at SMX this year “Links in his opinion have many many many more years ahead of us as valuable“. The thing people should understand is that even if the value shifts to something else, SEOs will evolve and learn those technologies. It is already happening. It’s what they do.
I think if anything, SEO as it has existed is becoming more geared toward content strategy and CRO than the tactical element it has been in the past. There will still be tactics, they will just become increasingly subtle and sophisticated. Think SEO is on it’s way out? Tell us why, we would love to hear your opinion on this topic!