“If you're realizing you need Facebook marketing now, you're a little late to the game,” Matthew Brown, founder of Audience Wise, told SMX Seattle attendees. During SMX Seattle's session, The New Periodic Table of SEO, the value of social marketing to SEO was clear. Panelists shared data indicating strong correlations between social shares and organic rankings.
SEOmoz studied the top 30 organic results for more than 10,000 keywords to determine what factors correlate with SEO success and, perhaps not surprisingly, social was huge. Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, shared insight at SMX Seattle on the social factors marketers thought were most important (independent of his study's results). Twitter came out on top, and Fishkin pointed out that the authority of Tweets was particularly at the forefront of SEOs minds.
In reality, SEOmoz found that Facebook shares had the strongest correlation to SEO rankings. Facebook share data was present for 61 percent of pages in the top 30 results from the 10,200 keyword set (and Fishkin suggested that Google can access this info via the open graph, but Matt Cutts later said it cannot). Facebook Likes were common to 37 percent of the top results.
While Facebook shares and Likes have an undeniable relationship to search performance, marketers won't want to stop tweeting. The SEOmoz study also found that tweets to a URL were a common factor for 42 percent of the top 30 results for any given query in the study. (Plus, Brafton has reported that Matt Cutts says tweets may help Google index pages faster, which means original publishers are more likely to get due credit – and rankings – for their content.)
LinkedIn's SEO stock is rising as well. Audience Wise's Matthew Brown says he found a strong correlation between LinkedIn shares and SEO ranking. Obtaining as few as 10 LinkedIn shares seemed to relate to SEO ranking, in Brown's study. He suggests this is because LinkedIn offers access to authority audiences, and marketers may want to plan their social content campaigns accordingly.
With this data in mind, the panelists encourage marketers to be adventurous in the social space. Quality content shared across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is now a given for social search marketing – but look to the next thing.
Marketers can apply this advice with the recent launch of the Google +1 button. While some marketers could be inclined to wait and see whether or not it will become a ranking factor, SMX Seattle experts advise marketers to jump in, add the plugin to their sites and gain an early adopter's advantage.