Search Engine Optimization experts rely heavily on links, volumes of content and old domains. But the times they are a-changing. Social signals from Facebook Likes and tweets, are affecting rankings in the biggies like Google. They are finding social media sources provide great benefits to users and provide more trusted signals, and they admit to experimenting with the appropriate adjustments.

The main goal of search engines is to help people find what they’re looking for. To do this, the search engines developed a complex algorithm measuring websites voting for others by linking to them. If your website had lots of links, you climbed the ranking ladder. There were other factors of course, like keywords in titles, and the game changed constantly, keeping the poor old SEO experts sweating. But ‘links’ was the main name of the game. Website owners worked to adhere to Google’s standards to prove their sites had quality content by making sure they had plenty of links to good sites (although shadier sites tried to trick the secret formula without creating useful information, opening the way increasingly for spammers and irrelevant content).

This ranking method was great for the websites, but what about for the people who were searching? This is where social media is playing a role to make results better. Today, people share 30 billion pieces of content on Facebook and over 5 Billion tweets…per month. People are sending signals to search engines now with clicks, bookmarks, tags and ratings, and the search engines have figured out that if people share your content, it’s probably good.

Searches have better results when the algorithms are picking up on the opinions of people. So the lesson to be learned here for small businesses striving to get better rankings in the search engines is to put quality content on their websites so people will share it on their Facebook and  Twitter accounts and get those customers clicking the Like, bookmark and tag  buttons for all their worth.

 

 

 

Here is a neat story about the activity now on Facebook. It is getting over 1 trillion hits per month. Go to: http://fbupdates.com/2011/11/facebook-hits-a-trillion-pageviews-per-month/ for the story.

 

The big well-known social networking sites are great for  reaching a broad market and for reaching your friends and relatives. But there are more and more options open to the small business person these days. Many of  these are focused on your industry or neighborhood. Perhaps they don’t reach  millions, but sometimes it’s better to reach 20 people if they’re the right  people than reaching 2000 of a friend’s aunt’s bridge group’s circle.

Take the site Flickr, for example (www.flickr.com). Share your family photos by  all means, but if you’re a professional photographer you can use this site to  build a network of your peers and find people who are interested in your work.

The big sites are valuable and fun, but they are not always  the best way to reach those who can benefit your company. The point here is to  explore all your options, or combine them to get the best results possible for  your business. Check with others in your line of work or get on the Internet  and do some searching. You’ll be amazed at how many business-specific sites  there are out there steadily building communities for a great variety of  professions, organizations and companies.

And if you use these opportunities for social networking,  remember it’s your business on the line out there. Commit to it, be reliable,  and more than anything, follow up. Those new customers are out there waiting for you.