The search world is ever-changing. Although the changes may not be large, even small upsets to the system can throw an SEO (define) program into a tailspin. And no matter how small an update Google makes to its algorithm, what happened yesterday certainly impacts tomorrow.
In honor of the New Year, let’s examine key changes in search from 2007 and project how they might impact 2008.
It’s not just the individual events that really make a dent; it’s the incremental impact of everything that’s happened over time that really affects the way we execute SEO. The better term to use, therefore, is the “evolution” of search. The most significant trend that contributed to its recent evolution is social media’s role in search.
Social Media for Dummies
Everybody’s doing social media now. They’re on MySpace, Facebook, Digg, Del.icio.us, Twitter, Flickr, and the like. And not only are they doing it, they’re leveraging it for their search programs.
It started with corporate blogs. These were launched on the theory that if you’re creating fresh, good content, people will link to it, and search engines will think it’s important stuff. Most also throw an RSS feed in there to up inbound link potential.
But there are other ways social media has been leveraged for search. Savvy organizations have realized the benefit on search rankings for an article that’s dugg by others on Digg. Other organizations have started viral campaigns to get their site bookmarked in del.icio.us.
Although many search marketers have dabbled in social media marketing (SMM), campaigns don’t seem to be very strategic and fully coordinated campaigns. Not yet, anyway.
Aligning SMM and Search Marketing
If 2007 was the year of testing these social media vehicles on an ad hoc basic, 2008 could be the year search marketers start to formulate full SMM plans as part of their off-site SEO efforts.
In the current SEO landscape, on-site factors are playing a diminishing role in determining search rankings. The emphasis continues to shift to off-site factors — most importantly, getting more inbound links pointing to your site. The search marketer’s role is expanding to include such things as online PR, reputation management, and, yes, social media campaign management.
If your 2008 search plan doesn’t include social media, you may want to reconsider.
Further Exploiting Social Media for Search
Businesses are already making use of the social media trend. But what will they do in 2008?
Likely much of the same, but more of it, and they’ll likely do it better. But some new trends will also play a role.
Now that Facebook has opened up profiles to be indexed by the search engines and businesses can have their own profile pages, we can only imagine how much clamoring there’ll be to have a presence there.
Because video content is now being indexed along with regular content in search engines, YouTube is sure to become more of a focus for search marketers in 2008.
But it’s not just video — audio files, images, news stories, and blog posts can all be indexed. Creating and optimizing multiple types of content will be the next challenge for search marketers.
These are just a few ways search marketers might leverage social media in the coming year. As new social media sites emerge, so too will new ways to exploit them for search.
Social Media and Search: Together Forever
Social media isn’t poised to end anytime soon. In fact, the usage of social networking media and user-generated content on the Web continues to rise. Social media is now so ingrained in our Internet psyche that it’s an institution. Marketers who are either unwilling or unable to leverage this space may find their search presence dwindling in the face of savvier competitors.
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