Google has shown that it wants to be a bit more like Facebook, and Facebook is trying to edge its way into a small piece of Google's pay-per-click profits. While neither one is likely to completely overtake or replace the other, at least not for many years, it seems that search and social media are destined to eventually come together into something new. And so the question to be asked is: What will happen when search and social media finally become the same thing?
As interesting a question is that is, however, it's actually a bit of a trick. That's because, in many ways, they almost already are... at least as far as most business owners and marketers are concerned. After all, new customers typically turn to search engines first when they are looking for products and services, but most also like the advice of friends and colleagues before they make a buying decision. And so, from an online marketing perspective, the two are already intertwined.
That insight leads to some important realizations for your business plan. Here are three things you have to know to succeed in the shrinking world of search and social media:
Keywords matter everywhere
It used to be just page titles and headlines that we had to worry about optimizing for search engines, and then it was the content, inbound links, blog posts, and hundreds of other details. Now, with the major social media sites adding more advanced search features – and Google integrating tweets and other social content into their real-time search results – there isn't room for non-optimized content anymore.
Although you don't want to drown any of your pages or profiles in too many keywords, smart marketers and business owners are realizing that they have to pay attention to the keywords in all their posts, hash tags, and other content. It doesn't matter whether you are on your home page or working or posting an update for your Facebook fans: Make sure what you post is keyword-rich.
Recommendations and reputations are everything online
Regardless of where customers are finding out about you, one of the first things they're going to do is type your name (or your company's name) into the search box on Google and/or the major social media sites to see what comes up. Those reviews, recommendations, and impressions they find – in other words, the elements that make up your online reputation – are going to go a long way toward determining whether you can make a sale or not.
As online reputations become more important, there are two things you have to keep in mind. First, monitoring your reputation closely is the best way to protect it. And secondly, you shouldn't treat your reputation passively. That is, the farther you go to encourage good reviews, ask for customer feedback, etc., the more positive information about your business there will be floating around the Internet.
Having the right approach is the key to both search and social
One other important way that search and social media are very alike, and one that we haven't gotten to yet, is that both thrive on fresh, interesting, and unique content. So long as you are consistently releasing that – regardless of whether it's through your website, social media profiles, or elsewhere – it's only going to be a matter of time before your Internet marketing plan picks up steam in lots of different places.
Although we can't be certain how it will come together, which companies will take the next big steps, or what the final product will look like, it's a safe bet that it's going to happen sooner rather than later. As with everything, it's the businesses who take the right approach and appeal to customers in an innovative way that will come out ahead, not the ones who wait to follow the pack. So, when search and social finally blend into one, will your organization be prepared?
Michael David is the founder, current CEO, and lead strategist at TastyPlacement, an Austin SEO company. He is the author of "WordPress 3.0 Search Engine Optimization" with the prestigious IT publisher, Packt Publishing. TastyPlacement performs search marketing campaigns, public relations, search engine optimization, social media consulting and online advertising for companies in a wide range of fields. You can connect with him here: Michael David on Google+