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Posted on the 27th June 2011

As Google puts the squeeze on traditional ranking signals and subsequently, Search Engine Optimization tactics, the growing emphasis on social signals has many SEO practitioners getting more serious about social engagement and as a result one of the biggest topics in SEO right now is ‘social’ SEO – the idea that the more people engage with your brand/product/website in the social space by liking, tweeting, and hitting +1, for example, the more likely you are to be rewarded with top rankings.

Including social media content as a ranking factor is a perfectly logical step for search engines to take. In order to provide the most relevant results for a given search they look at which websites/webpages are recommended by other websites in the form of direct links. Now they will also consider what individuals consider to be important.

The clear flaw in this thinking, which can be parked for another day, is that the people who make the most noise in social media aren’t always representative of the more silent majority.

That “social SEO” has an impact upon natural search rankings is now irrefutable, and the recent introduction of Google +1 means there is now an even more direct relationship between a ‘social signal’ and ranking improvements. Search engines have become increasingly social over the last two years, as Google and Bing have begun incorporating social content and activity into their SERP ranking factors. Since Google’s launch of Social Search in 2009, Bing, Google and others have rapidly introduced a suite of other social services, aimed at incorporating social signals into their SERPs. On today’s SERP users interact with real-time search results from Twitter and Facebook, annotated notes from their online community on Quora and Flickr, and can contribute their own opinions via Facebook “Like” and Google’s +1. These services are constantly updated in an effort to keep results fresh, relevant and personal.

Basically – what we’re harping on about is that we need to spend more and more time on matching content and community. Great, engaging content not only attracts search engine traffic, but also drives links and is more likely to be shared by your social community. Create content that’s relevant to your audience, promote it through the social channels they actually use, make it easy for them to share, and thank them when they do.

An engaging social presence is your first step.