Merry Morud, social advertising director for aimClear, says social signals have now replaced links when it comes to SEO. Morud presented her predictions for the future of SEO at an SES Denver panel discussion covered by Search Engine Watch. “In the old days of SEO, link building was the ultimate, but with social, SEO becomes democratized, more of an aggregate of symbols and authority,” Morud remarked.
Morud predicts that Google+ could supplant Facebook as an important tool to boost search ranking. She said Google receives the “purest” social signals from Google+, and those signals can have more of an impact on SEO than Facebook. Morud’s statements come on the heels of Google removing authorship, once thought to be one of its greatest benefits, from its social network platform entirely.
Social signals have a high correlation with search ranking, but it’s not clear how or whether they cause bumps in ranking. In January 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts dispelled the idea that its search algorithm incorporated social signals such as like or follower counts. However, high-quality content—the kind Google wants to rank higher on its results pages—tends to be shared more anyway, he said.
If indeed social signals play a role in search rankings, Google appears to be keeping mum about it.
Staying abreast of algorithm changes and the future of SEO will be important for marketers honing their content marketing strategies. Nearly 40 percent of marketers say they use SEO ranking as a way to assess their B2B content marketing efforts, according to a Content Marketing Institute report. SEO ranking was on par with sales-lead quality as a metric, but was well behind website traffic, which 63 percent of marketers said they use to assess their efforts. In the 2014 report, 44 percent of marketers said they use SEO ranking as a metric.
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