It is becoming more apparent as the web develops, that social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) are no longer separate entities. In the past, it was enough to say ‘let’s invest in a bit of SEO for our website, and leave the social media aside’, but is this still a viable option for an online business?
In some cases, online businesses may get away without any involvement in social media, but for most, social media may be the difference between winning and losing. We all know social media provides a perfect platform for branding, creating product awareness, and communicating with customers, but these are not the only benefits now. More recently, social media may have started to provide some direct effect on the search engine ranking of a website, and it is likely that in the future this effect will only become more pronounced.
Although social media is great for some things, its ability to produce online sales is perhaps more questionable, discussed in some detail here. When it comes to creating online sales, search engine ranking is often a key factor in competitive markets. So a combination of social media branding, and search engine ranking is simply the greatest way to earn your sales.
SEO provides a website with a high ranking and a large factor in determining the website’s ranking has always been the number of links pointing to that website, while nofollow links associated with social media have always been ignored. Although social media has always provided an indirect contribution to SEO through sharing content and increasing likelihood of link generation, its direct contribution has perhaps been minimal.
However, more recently, Google has suggested that it now takes social media presence into account, at least in some cases, in order to help judge a website and its search engine ranking. This is reviewed in more detail in Nebstone’s marketing blog. In short, popularity and links from social media such as twitter and Facebook have the potential to impact upon the ranking of a website, making social media a direct contributor to SEO. Matt Cutts has also suggested that this direct relationship between social media and SEO will only grow stronger in the next ten years…
…so social media or SEO?
Social media and SEO can no longer be treated separately. Social media provides not only a branding and communication platform, but has potential to directly contribute to SEO. SEO provides the high search engine rankings a website needs to drive online sales and a happy looking profit report.