How Search & Social Will Hit The Fast Forward Button In 2013

The search and social graphs have made giant strides in the recent past. Even two years ago, people were skeptical about the relationship between search and social media. Fast-forward to 2013, and we are now faced with a complex and large search and social ecosystem that offers a world of opportunity to SEO marketers while transforming their role. Social Media World - Fast Forward in 2013

Several forces are behind this transformation. The relationship between social and search has changed. Social is now also being consumed locally and in multiple formats such as video.

Social engagement is becoming more dependent on quality content and the relationship between social and mobile, making it essential that marketers dig deeper into search, social, local and mobile data to understand how it can impact rankings.

Today, I would like to focus on five key developments that have fueled this rapid change while in parallel, sharing data and results from the BrightEdge 2013 Search Marketer Survey that was sent to over 4,500 brands and provided insight into how marketers are leveraging the change in the search and social media relationship in 2013. (Disclosure: I’m the founder and CEO of BrightEdge.)

1.  Social Media Data Fuels Most Of Big Data Growth

Social media comes in multiple data formats. In my last article, I talked about the importance of Big Data and it’s relationship with search marketing. Over the last two years, 90%of global data has been produced by digital and social content.

The adoption of smartphones and tablets, and generation of location data primarily drive the growth of social data. A breakdown of how this forms part of the big data picture is highlighted below:


2.  Growing Relationship Between Social Signals, Rank & Content

To get a sense of the magnitude of the opportunity when it comes to tapping social networks as a channel for sharing content, it is useful to look at the following statistics:

  • 1 billion Facebook users
  • 200 million Twitter users
  • 200 million LinkedIn users
  • 135 million active users on Google+
  • 3.3 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook each month
  • 5 billion Google +1’s a day

Source – 2012 Internet in numbers

Social signals do impact rankings. Google CEO Larry Page said as much in his speech at Zeitgeist Americas. Of course, there are challenges in search engines gaining access to social signals that may not be publicly available. However, signals like +1′s and Tweets do influence which pages are most relevant for keyword searches.

Danny Sullivan articulates the importance of social signals in search, especially Google Plus:

Anybody who cares about ranking well on Google absolutely needs to be using Google Plus. It’s so integrated with everything that they’re doing, and we can see that it can have some direct relations now as well. It’s stunning to me that people still don’t do that, and I think the people who are doing it now are going to be well ahead of others.

Social media marketers now have a huge opportunity to impact SEO, improve search rankings, and increase revenue generated through organic search. Focusing on the content of social media activities to uncover the exact areas that will boost SEO and offer actionable recommendations to increase visibility on search engines is becoming a key priority for search marketers

Over 80% of search marketer respondents from the BrightEdge survey stated that in 2013, they will focus more on social media as a productive channel to improve rank. The more the search and social teams work together, the greater the synergies in terms of rankings and sharable content. What is shared ranks, and what ranks is shared.

Social sharing of content


Moreover, content related to social engagement is the most important type of content that marketers are prioritizing in 2013. Seventy-eight percent (78%)  of the marketers surveyed stated that they will be focusing on this in 2013.

Time on content creation

3.  Rise In Correlation Between Social Sharing & Search Performance

Understanding the exact correlation between social sharing of your pages and rank is growing in importance. It is essential, as marketers further integrate social media and SEO strategies.

Identifying this correlation and analyzing the content being shared helps marketers reinforce what’s working while adjusting social sharing activities that do not have a positive correlation.

correlation of social share


Measuring and managing this correlation is proven to work. TinyPrints saw a 47% increase in rankings by integrating its organic search and Twitter strategies based on a clear understanding of this correlation.

Tiny Prints and Social Sharing


At a conceptual level, this is about integrating SEO metrics with Social data. While the above discussion is about using Social for the benefit of SEO, the converse is valuable, too. I had discussed this in my earlier post, Take Twitter Campaigns To The Next Level With SEO Data.

Social media marketers trying to engage users on Twitter can utilize synergy with their SEO counterparts to:

  1. Understand which topics (keywords) tracked on the SEO side are trending on Twitter
  2. Identify existing pages/content already mapped to these keywords from an SEO perspective
  3. Share these pages through Tweets that contain the language (keywords) used to describe the trending topics.

Trending Topics - SEO and Twitter

4.  Search, Social, Local & Mobile Are More Intertwined Than Ever

According to Google, 20 percent of all Google searches have local intent and 40 percent of Google mobile searches have local intent.  The phenomenal growth of local and mobile search and usage has meant that in order to innovate and optimize for mobile search, understanding local search is vital in 2013.

Over 75% of search marketers surveyed stated that that optimizing for local search will be more important this year.

What’s more:

  • Mobile accounts for 13% of all global Internet traffic
  • Over 1.3 exabytes of global mobile data traffic was generated per month in 2012.
  • There are over 1.1 billion global smartphone subscribers
  • There are over 5 billion mobile phone users

Local Search



Mobile & Tablet Search Optimization Is A Key Priority In 2013

As marketers optimize for local and more and more people access local information via mobile and tablet,s we have seen an increase in focus on optimizing for multiple device types.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of search marketers from the BrightEdge survey stated that optimizing their site for mobile phones and tablets will be more important this year. This will generate even greater volumes of social data for search marketer to take advantage of.

Mobile and Tablet Optimization


As with desktop search, many marketers now look at mobile data and rankings to see how their own campaigns and their competitors’ are performing, and how that ties into their Web analytics.

With tablets, there will be different conversion metrics, different keywords to optimize for, and other considerations. For example, Adobe, a client and BrightEdge partner, produced the visual below on optimizing for tablets.

Adobe - Optimizing for Tablets



5.  Innovation In Search & The Social Graph Is Progressing Rapidly

Facebook’s launch of Graph Search signifies the fusion of data and social innovation. Facebook Graph Search allows you to search and be presented with results based on your personal social graph (Likes and connections). The information you are served from Facebook’s Big Data set is relevant to what your friends and connections like, and SEOs will adapt accordingly.

Depending on marketer goals for social engagement, different marketing organizations prioritize different social media channels. Looking at the survey results, we can see that Facebook and Google+ are key areas of focus for the search and social marketer this year.

Social Channel Focus 2013



2012 saw a rapid increase in the amount of search and social data that we use. The growth of local and mobile search has fueled the accessing and sharing of this data. In 2013, marketers are focusing on hybrid, content-driven search, social and mobile media campaigns and innovating in line with the rise of local search and social graph development.

Keeping pace with change is key challenge, but also, as the survey data suggests, a key opportunity for the search marketer this year.

You can download a free copy of all key findings in the 2013 Search Marketing Survey here.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO Platform. He combines in-depth expertise in developing and marketing large on-demand software platforms with hands-on experience in advanced SEO practices.

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  • Rob Garner

    Excellent article, and great data to back it up

  • Patrick Santry

    Great article. For too long the focus has been on getting followers, friends, and connections, where the real power in social lies is getting people to link to your content which in the end generates more traffic, and hopefully more business.

  • Rajesh M Magar

    As always…simply great. But I have one question (hop you’ll never mind), I would relay appreciate if you share little bit from your secret recipes that. What tools you use to find those fascinating stats and what are the best resources for them.

  • Jim Yu

    Thanks Rob!

  • Jim Yu

    Agreed, social link building with great content is a really powerful and under-leveraged aspect of social marketing.

  • Jim Yu

    Thanks Rajesh, one of the valuable things we have at BrightEdge (with our big data infrastructure) is access to tons of great data that we tap into for the posts.

  • Alexander Yudashkin

    Great article, thank you, Jim! It was obviously worth mentioning the importance of the content discovery and search services in social media sphere. Not only utilize the social graphs, but also find the content relevant to the user trends is a key factor to build better market opportunities. In addition to the existing big ones like Google or Facebook, the presence of new business tools like yours or consumer engines like or can dramatically change the landscape.

  • Patrick Santry

    I’ve been working on my own project in this space, it’s very beta at

  • Christopher Melck

    The dilemma regarding horse meat in burgers and meat patties is interesting.
    Has anyone tested horse meat to establish whether or not it is healthy, there has not been a spate of deaths or even illnesses reported on the subject. We have, for generations, been eating cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry,game, even kangaroos, zebra and crocodiles. What is the problem with horses, Belgians have been eating them for years, what do they know that we don’t know. Rumour has it that these are failed race horses that are now paying the ultimate penalty! At least they had a chance, the rest of our protein source was raised to be slaughtered, which is worse?

  • David Stevenson

    Many companies such as are looking to social in this aspect. Although I am yet to see any hard data on the role social plays in the actual funnel to conversion. What is the true value of a shared link?

  • davidquaid

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for quoting the Facebook 1 billion number. Its a lot easier now that its a billion innit? Like 543 million is just too much typing and remembering. I don’t know why – but I’m guessing its because you don’t need anything else to make such a leap in logic – but what does a billion have to do with search?

    Firstly, after removing inactives, children (who lie about their age), pets and spam, there’s really only about 700mln usrs (I know, a billion is easier). Google probably has about 3 billion users.

    Also, all of the links are shared from things like and from a single page. Also, most of them are protected, hidden or associated with nofollow.

    Yes, I know, Social Media is easier than link building. But opinions are not facts. Correlation is not causation. So sad to see ‘apologists’ pumping social media. I

    I’ve seen companies that spend less than $1000 per month on SEO and PPC are now happy to hire full time “Content Marketeers” and “Community Managers” for $50k $60k + because Social Media is free and now they can control the message to their thousands of loyal (and real) fans.

    They’re pumped up on fear, and straight line thinking based on assumptions and gut instincts because they seem obvious….

    This is an excellent slideshare that anybody should read before allowing themselves to become so deluded that they think that 99% of people care about a brand they’ve never even heard of….

    We need to introduce responsibility and accountability, not just moving from Snake Oil by the gallon to “Essence of Snake Oil | Smaller and more epensivier”

  • davidquaid

    So there’s 30 trillion pages on the web and Google will manually judge yours to be better. You’d want to make sure you and the Google author-judge have the same taste in writing :P


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