The purpose of search engine optimization is to get websites to rank at the top of search results for specific keywords. Working within this framework makes it very easy to forget the overarching goals of reaching your target market and increasing your bottom line. As the days of free directory and social bookmarking submissions are being filed away in the depths of SEO history books, and the focus has shifted to value-added content, we must pause and reevaluate our approach to better rankings and meaningful results.
Each day we’re bombarded with snippets of content en masse. Between news sites, blogs, and the increasing number of social media platforms, we’re living in a world of information overload. How then, can we ever hope to differentiate ourselves and reach an audience that can help to satisfy our needs? The answer seems to be to make friends.
The web is an interconnected, social place that floods us with information and attempts to target what we see based on our interests and the perceived value of the websites on which this information resides. Search algorithms decide what information is shown to us and they do this based on an array of variables. Early days of SEO focused on the quantity of links pointing from external sites to your site. However, algorithm enhancements have made current ranking factors much more complicated. Now, quantity is not as valuable as quality, and backlinks from external websites are no longer a major indicator of search rankings.
A mix of high school popularity contest and professional networking, today’s search rankings are an ever-changing conglomerate of social signals, digital connections, interactions, engagements, and value-added content. Most of us have social profiles on more sites than we care to admit. Between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, Urbanspoon, Flickr, Youtube and numerous other social networks, search engines receive a wealth of information about who’s who and what’s what in the digital world of content. Social influencers and the most engaging brands are easily spotted in ever field. They are revered for their uncanny ability to connect with individuals, spark change in their industries, and perhaps most importantly, to influence search rankings. Just like high school, college, and later the professional world of adult careers, being connected to popular users gives you serious street cred in the often murky hallways of the world wide web. The trick to making these connections and becoming popular is making friends in all the right places.
Consider the stereotypical skinny nerd with glasses and the quarterback who can’t play ball unless his grades go up. The nerd starts out doing the jock’s homework, tutoring him for exams, and putting in a good word with the teachers. In return, the jock doesn’t let his friends shove the nerd’s head in the toilet, introduces him to girls and maybe even invites him to parties. The “cool” kids soon see the nerd’s value and befriend him as well. The girls start to see him as more of a hipster than a nerd and the perks of this mutually beneficial relationship continue to flourish. Eventually, the two go to college and continue their friendship as well as the inevitable expansion of their social networks, which are becoming more and more closely intertwined. Then, one fateful day, the two friends graduate and the nerd helps the jock get a cushy job at a buddy’s ultra profitable company, while the jock helps the nerd find a sexy wife and mobilizes their networks to get him elected to public office.
Like the nerd and the jock we too must learn to build symbiotic friendships that help us navigate the high school-like hallways of the digital world. The web is an interconnected network of brands and individuals who can work together to impact both each other’s online presence and bottom lines. So, whether your brand is yourself or a company, fostering these relationships provides a wealth of ongoing advantages. Your connections can help you to raise awareness for your brand via a plethora of different mediums. Sharing your content and interacting with you by way of social media is one way in which your relationships can boost your online performance. The more engagement your content solicits, the more favorably your site is viewed by search engines. Thus, receiving help from your network in garnering engagement is a valuable asset. Another way that your connections can help your search rankings is by giving you the opportunity to guest post on their blog. Guest posting provides you with a high-quality link back to your website as well as exposure to a wider target audience. It also gives you the added benefit of connecting your brand to complementary topics that appeal to your market.
The increasing focus that is being placed on social networking allows us to see how we can use online friendships to promote each other’s products, services, and ideas. In a world of excessive, often meaningless bits of content, it’s important to foster an online presence that is regularly validated by an active user base. So, whether you’re the jock or the nerd, pay attention to which users can complement your reputation, and work towards building a friendship in which you can learn and work together to conquer your piece of the world wide web.
At Lead to Conversion we recognize the inherent “social” nature of today’s internet and work with you to develop an understanding of both your target audience and the industry within which your business operates. We use those standards to help identify blogs, complementary businesses, thought leaders, subject matter experts, and potential customers relevant to your space. By providing a steady flow of relevant content and information, their digital presences form the basis of our relationship development efforts and help pave the way for continuous, meaningful, and interactive engagement.