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