Social SEO in 2010 - 2011

Offsite SEO and Social Media

As we are nearing the end of the noughties, I thought it was time to write a blog about how we see offsite Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) developing in the early part of the next decade.

The above diagram shows some of the major developments in offsite SEO over the past 9 years (thanks to SEOmoz for part of this diagram). It also shows our view of the next trend in offsite SEO and that’s ‘Social SEO’.

For the sake of clarity, we define the advent of Social SEO as the greater impact that all forms of Social Media will have on what content is shown in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and how that content is ranked.

The effect of increased social interaction and the growing ubiquity of Social Media is already being felt, with Universal Search and Personalised Search, while Google is currently experimenting with the concept of Social Search. Real-time indexing of Social Media sites such as Twitter heralds yet another change to the SERPS. You can take a sneaky peak (if you want to play around with javascript) at the potential new look Google, which is being tested-out to deal with a greater amount of real time indexing, by visiting

Social Media, and the concept of “brand buzz” or “social online noise” may also start to have a greater impact on how results are ranked. If Google are looking at ways to rank Social Media in real time, and if they see this content as having genuine value, there is every reason to think that some of the elements that define the way Social Media is ranked will start to affect the way that more traditional content is ordered.

For instance, brand mentions on Social Media networks may start to give the search engines pretty good signals as to the strength and authority of that brand within a particular area of business. Google is always looking at ways to improve user experience, while reducing the ability of “nasty” SEO experts to game their algorithm, and Social Media might just provide some of the means to achieve this.

All of the above has meant that top search engine rankings (in the old skool way of thinking of them) are diminishing in terms of importance. True positioning in the SERPs will become more difficult to measure because of Personalised Search, while Universal Search and increasingly prominent sponsored listings reduce the impact of even the number 1 organic listing. Accordingly, there should be more attention to conversion rates, actual visitor numbers and genuine engagement (such as YouTube video views and click throughs) rather than just focussing purely on positioning in the SERPs.

In conclusion, if Social Media and SEO were not already bed fellows, then they certainly will be going forward, as engagement in the social space, online PR, User Generated Content (UGC), real-time indexing and Universal Search optimisation become even more important to claiming visible real estate on the first page of the search results.