A few years ago, as social media came onto the scene, many viewed it as a separate entity from search engine marketing. One could do SEO, but not social media, and vice versa, and one didn’t seem to be part of the other. Common thought at the time was that social media didn’t influence ranking.
This has changed as Google and other search engines have placed greater weight to social media in their search algorithms, and as the shift in SEO has gone away from ranking and more to increasing website visits. Now, Google sees social media activity as a measure of a company’s web presence, and this can effect search engine results.
There has also been a shift on the importance of ranking. As Google changed algorithms, and as results have gotten murkier, with so many on the first page dominated by directories and sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages, ranking has become more difficult. It has also become clear the ranking isn’t the end-goal, but increased website visits is, as it should be.
Purely as a statistic, website visits are more tangible, and much more important to conversions that ranking. As this idea has become more prominent, social media has increasingly been seen as a part of SEO, since it can very effectively drive traffic to a website, often in more qualified ways than ranking on a Google search.
Social media is the ultimate way to disseminate blog posts, new web pages, and other announcements. If “real” SEO is about creating genuine buzz and PR, then social media must be a critical component of SEO.