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 representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

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.

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February 9, 2011

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


well i think google want to buy facebook like that of orkut....well better google have its own social media

Interesting thought - the one thing I have learned is that its very much a case of build it and they will come - but only if its compelling enough for them to want to! Buzz hasn't been a runnaway success. No compelling reason.

Anyway thats my 2c.



I agree, google needs to own its social network, but I think timing is everything, Facebook is so huge, and nothing's gonna take it down, unless it is outrageously BRILLIANT. Anyway, what Facebook data are you talking about? Facebook's known to give away its users' info. LOL

Hi Bryan,

I am in no way saying that Google will dethrone Facebook. But Google's situation is actually similar to where Microsoft was on search. Microsoft needed a search engine and they have, through hard work and a few bold moves, built Bing into a credible #2 to Google. Google doesn't need to dethrone Facebook. It just needs something credible.

It seems to me that Google would have no chance at ever breaking into what FB has, however, I think they are also up to something which involves the ability to call each other through a network. FB need to create the feature where you can just call someone direct through FB. Google is set for that. FB could partner with Skype to make that happen fast. They have enough money to just do it on their own though.

They have broken into all their markets by giving something of value. To break FB strangle hold Ggl will have to go a step further.

What I see as a possible game changer that also has a USP (a unique selling point) if Google Boosted Buzz and gave a membership page that is already monetized for Adsense, that the member gets, not only a payment for the clicks on their page but also a share of overall profits from the site volumes, then they might be on to a winner.

Peoplestring is going part of the way and have recently gone public due to the massively increased value.

Ggl has the basics in place already so would not take much and what an incentive, to share in Ggl's wealth.

Very interesting idea, Chuck. You're right that Google has lots of money (and they also have lots of data) that gives them the power to elbow their way into conversations that others could not.

And i bet that SEO consultant also believes Google never follows a 'no follow' tag too haha. Google is integrating social inputs into the algo. Im not a scientest with raw data and a giant control study, but I have lead a social R&D team at an exclusive SEO agency. Just the links that social naturally aggregates vs a site that doesnt use any form of social is a clear connection. Let alone the input that google files away on those 'no follow' crawls from a twitter or a digg.

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