5 reasons why social is better than SEO
A lot of people expend resources (time, money and effort) on improving their SEO. But SEO is no longer as important as it once was. Businesses need to shift their focus to improving their "social influence".
Here's a quote from an article entitled "Die SEO, die!" that looks at how and why the Internet is shifting from search to social:
SEO is to social influence what the typewriter is to the PC
SEO: A eulogy (eugoogly ;)
The above analogy is a good one because, like the typewriter, SEO was extremely important at the time. I'm referring to when search engines were the only way to find information - unlike today where more and more people are finding information through social networks.
SEO, while taken to extremes by some, was really about structuring your webpages and their content in such a way as to make them as valuable as possible to readers and easy to index by the search engines.
People soon realized that by employing some SEO tricks, you could leapfrog up the SERPs (search engine results pages). This is where the problem came in. Search engines can't actually determine the quality of the content they are indexing. They don't understand it, in the sense that humans do. They rely on tricks to rank the importance of pages.
But things are changing...
Social influence: A greeting
While it was possible to fool the search engines to some extent, it isn't possible to fool people as easily. Content that is shared socially will only become popular if it holds value for that audience.
Check out this article entitled "Social catalyst: One blog post; ten thousand Twitter followers" for more information on how to create socially catalytic content.
This means that, on average, the quality of information that is shared via social networks is higher than that returned by search engines. People are better than machines at knowing what they like.
As more and more people start finding what they want socially, so search, and in particular SEO, is going to dwindle in importance. That's not to say you can ignore SEO completely, just that once you have the basics (which are very easy to grasp), you need not waste more time and money on it.
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Check out these articles that will tell you much of what you need to know about SEO:
So, understanding that we are at the start of a fundamental shift from the old model of "many individual websites discoverable via search", to "influential content shared via social interaction", we can now take a look at why this change is good.
1. Social content is more relevant
Social networks allow us to decide who to follow. This determines what content we receive. By following friends, colleagues and social influencers we can ensure that the vast majority of "noise" is cut out of our content stream.
Search engines decide the content we are exposed to. This is not necessarily the best content for us. Often financial resources and SEO manipulation can distort a search engine's picture of which content is the best.
2. Social content is more current
People tend to share content that is socially relevant to them at the time they share it. This means that the content you receive socially is also likely to be relevant to you at the time you receive it.
Pages that are ten years old and may have been extremely popular at the time can still be returned at the top of search results. This is because longevity is an indicator of quality. It is difficult for search engines to determine whether fresher webpages are more relevant than older ones.
3. The quality of social content is determined by humans
If you find a cool webpage, you share it because you know that your friends and colleagues will also find it interesting. You've applied your own best judgement as to the value of that content.
Search engines rely on complex algorithms to decide which content is of quality. One of the metrics used is how well that content is received socially (i.e. how many backlinks it gets). This basically acknowledges that humans know best.
4. Social is less ambiguous than SEO
Let's say I write an article on becoming "socially empowered". In the context of this website, it is likely that I am talking about social media and social marketing - a social strategy for building authority, trust and influence. Empowering yourself to do business via social networks.
The people I share this content with, already know who I am and what I write about, so they understand this. Google might think I am talking about social empowerment in a cultural, financial or political sense.
Check out this article entitled "Weird, odd and downright bizarre SEO keywords that drive my traffic: SEO gone wrong" that highlights the weird and wonderful keywords that drive traffic to WSM4B.
Search engines do their best to determine the context of your content. But fundamentally, humans are better at doing this than machines because English, as a language, is full of nuance and ambiguity.
5. Social influence is a far better metric than SEO
Social influence is becoming the yardstick by which authority is measured online. By building up your authority and reach through quality content and social interaction via the social networks, you become your own best marketable asset.
Check out this article entitled "Social marketing: How influence is overtaking traffic as the new web currency" that discusses social influence in more depth.
SEO is rapidly becoming outdated. Who cares if you have the world's best SEO enhanced website if less and less people use search to find their information?
SEO is how we pander to machines, and is not a good way to produce content. It's far better to take your content straight to the audience, cut out the intermediary, and let people decide if they like you or not.
If you don't start becoming social, then you risk losing out big time. You've been warned.
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