Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the way of improving visibility by trying to ensure one has as high a web ranking as possible when relevant searches are undertaken. This is visibility in 'unpaid' or 'organic' search results as opposed to those opportunities which companies pay for in order to be found.
As many people's first port of call, when looking for a new product or service, is a search engine, the importance of coming up in the first few entries, on a relevant search, is widely understood.
Many people still think of SEO as separate from any social media activity they undertake. However, this is simply no longer the case. Social media is fast becoming the major way that people are sharing and, therefore, discovering new information online. This means that search engines have long had to take into account social media activity and incorporate it into their search results. This is because, so much web activity is undertaken on social platforms, failure to do this would start to render search results irrelevant.
The trend, however, has been fast tracked by the creation of the Google + platform. Google are now incorporating brand pages from the platform into search results. They are also providing users the option to see relevant search information, gathered from their connections, in the Google + network.
This means that if businesses want to ensure they show up in the searches that people undertake, they have to address their social media activity as part of their SEO strategy, not as a separate entity. In other words, the lines are blurring between what is traditional SEO and what is social media activity. Over time, they are very likely to become almost one and the same thing.
'Social media pptimisation' (SMO) is not a phrase as familiar as that of search engine optimisation. However, it is now becoming increasingly important in the effectiveness of SEO.
Businesses must increasingly ask themselves what they are trying to convey in a piece of social media activity. By understanding the message they are trying to put across, they will be able to ensure they use the relevant 'keywords' in order that the content is found.
Furthermore, companies must ask where the 'value' in their activity is for a customer. It is only by ensuring that they are adding value, from a customer perspective, that businesses can protect themselves from falling into the trap of simply using social media platforms to 'broadcast' their message. Simply 'broadcasting' is not engaging and is likely to damage a company's reputation over time.
Finally, businesses must ask themselves why and how they would expect someone to share any content they create. Without making it easy for people to share content and without giving them a reason to do this, companies miss out on the biggest opportunity social media provides. That is, not all marketing and communication have to be undertaken by your business. Today, those people engaged with your organisation have the means to market and communicate your business for you. These communications are more likely to be well received because they are not sent by a company but rather by one's friends and colleagues. Moreover, these are people you could probably never hope to reach any other way.
One of the trends for 2012 is the increasing 'socialisation of information'. The web is becoming social. The lines between activity on social platforms and other web activity are becoming blurred. Failure to incorporate social media as part of the overall SEO strategy will render it less likely that your organisation appears in the search results of your potential customers.
Follow Grant Leboff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@stickymktgclub