Is Content Google’s New Ranking Factor?

Content Marketing

How important is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) compared to Social Media Marketing (SMM)? Does Social Media Marketing (SMM) get content high ranked in the SERPs?  I had an interesting discussion with one of my customers this week and it is really not an easy question. It used to be an easy question. If we look back on 2012 we must admit that SEO perhaps was the most important factor when it comes to lead generation. Consider these facts:

– 2012 SEO had the biggest impact on lead generation goals, with 57% of B2B and 41% of B2C businesses said it had the greatest effect (Source: Mind Jumpers)

– 2012 SEO also had the highest lead-to-close rate among common lead generation sources with 15%. Direct traffic accounts for 15% while referrals and paid search account for 9% and 7% respectively (Source: Econsultancy)

But according to Search Engine Watch 2012 has been the year of “The Search Marketing Roller Coaster”. (Source: Search Engine Watch)

What has happened 2013?
One key factor is how Google’s recent algorithm changes have influenced website traffic increases. SEOMOZ states that every few months Google rolls out a “major” algorithmic update that affect search results in significant ways. (Source: SEOMOZ)

Aside from the rollout of Google’s “Search, Plus Your World” in January 2012, the biggest update to the search company’s algorithm is Google Panda. Search Engine Lands have a great infographic that covers its first year. (Source: Search Engine Land 

What has these changes meant for marketers? Focus on the best possible user experience.

Content Marketing
It all comes down to the value for the reader. Google judge the quality of sites and the types of sites they allow in their top rankings. Content Marketing attracts backlinks and adds value to the reader. A Company Blog will attract visitors to your content and add internal linking factors which Google loves. But, content with a video associated rank higher than just content rich websites so if you want to enjoy an increase in SERPs, you have to add relevant media to your sites as well as great content.

Authorship Rank—  Authorship Rank adds credibility to your website and creates a larger display of your site in the SERPs and adds authority to your domain, as well as benefiting from Social Engagement.

Online reputation
 If content creation is number one, social media relevance and online reputation is has become almost as important. Google is now looking for the most socially relevant and content rich sites and one of the ways they are searching for those sites is through social networks. Having a good amount of likes, shares, retweets and +1’s is what Google is looking for 2013.

Google has a preference for local websites and information; this means that applying local SEO for your site will see your rankings rise considerably.

Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing is the magic magnet that attracts customers. Inbound Marketing is the understanding of how Social Media Marketing (SMM) integrates with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and it is the key factor to success in 2013.

A study from January 2013 shows that 93% of companies that use Inbound Marketing through implementing HubSpot Software increase lead generation with more than 100%. In the 2011 study SEO was reported to have the dominant effect on website traffic growth. In the 2013 study more people attribute blogging as having the dominant effect on website traffic growth. (Source: MIT)

What is the conclusion?
SEO without social media will belong to the past. The use of Social Media Marketing (SMM), especially in link building, outreach, PR, research, and networking are essential. Search and SEO are a part of content marketing, but aren’t the start or end point. I like SEO but we have to understand that  quality content has to be produced by individuals and not technology. Technology only distributes and helps you create and curate some of that content.

What is your opinion? Does SMM need SEO or do SEO need SMM?

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