I was talking to a veteran SEO consultant the other day about all the things I am seeing about how social media activity affects organic search. After listening for a few minutes, he abruptly stated, "SEO and social are separate. A lot of people say they do both, but it is too complicated to be good at both. I do SEO and that's all I need to do." I agree that it is complicated, maybe too complicated for any single person to do well. But maybe a few consultants need to work together to do the job right, because there is more social needed for SEO every day. And it's about to get worse, because I think Google is going into the social network business.
We've already seen a few abortive attempts. Google Buzz didn't generate much buzz. Google Wave didn't catch a wave. There have been persistent rumors that Google is building something big, variously rumored to be called Google Me or Google +1. Some of the stories behind Eric Schmidt's surprising departure from the CEO chair have focused on how Google has lost its "coolest kid in class" status to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Image via CrunchBase
So, I don't have any inside information. I don't know anything about what Google is planning to do. Maybe they will just give up on building and buy MySpace. I just know what makes sense for them to do. Google needs its own social network.
Forget the whole "cool kids" crap. Google is the coolest kid when it comes to flashing a wallet. Money is always cool.
Google is watching something else drift away. It is watching the combination of search and social and it is starting to look like a bystander. Bing has been consistently gaining in market share and its deal with Facebook is the biggest story that no one is talking about. Sure, Google is using social activity in its rankings, but it can only get access to data that is public or that it licenses. It can't get Facebook data.
Google desperately needs to acquire or create its own Facebook competitor to create its own proprietary social data. Not only will it use that data in search, but also in its other advertising businesses. Google can't afford to be cut off from this rich data that is increasingly driving search.
So, to that SEO consultant that is drawing bright lines around SEO that exclude social, I have one message: You just wait. Google is going to erase them.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, Web personalization, and Web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include SES, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.
Mike also founded and writes for the Biznology newsletter and blog, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herlad as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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