We recently shared a few quotes with PRNews on Google’s latest innovation, Search, plus Your World (we’ll just call it Search plus in the rest of this post), but wanted to expand on our thoughts further.
Search plus is an exciting advancement from Google and continues the trend of the last several years: bringing search and social together.
Of course, there was an organic intersection between search and social long before this. Brands with large social communities have greater reach than competitors on the web through social channels. So, when they publish a new piece of content, they reach a larger audience, a percentage of whom will also be content creators (journalists, bloggers, etc). Those content creators then re-share, link back and generate organic signal to the original piece of content. This organic boost from the web provides an advantage for establishing authority of a domain (and with it, search visibility).
Years ago, I noticed many marketers were putting their SEO and social media programs in silos. I made the argument that SEO and social media strategies needed to intersect. Those who embraced this are well ahead of their competitors in search visibility and community size today. This is the crux of organic marketing, which, as Rand Fishkin notes, is the ultimate advantage for brands on the web.
Google’s recent search innovation is exciting but doesn’t actually change what marketing and PR pros should have been doing all along: building a platform agnostic web community and optimizing content using the tools and data available.
So what should marketers who are lost today do to find the right path tomorrow?
Learn SEO and social media marketing
If you’re a communications professional and only understand social media marketing but not search engine optimization (or vice versa), it’s time to learn both. PR professionals and marketers who do not are going to get left behind. Skills from community building to keyword research to content creation and analytics need to be a part of every marketing team’s bread and butter. Kill the digital marketing silos, think holistic: even integrate push tactics like email and paid with your organic tactics.
Use Google+, but don’t stop using other networks either
The social web is more frequently “and” than “or,” especially for brands. If you have a team already executing an effective social marketing program, adding another social outpost to your approach (such as Google+) should not be a difficult process. Integrate Google+ and nurture communities in multiple outposts you’ve identified as relevant for your target audience. As Matt Cutts points out, Search plus surfaces public content from the open web so participation across platforms is going to get rewarded. One cautionary point: we’d recommend you not just contribute content to other people’s platforms, but that you also continue to scale up unique, useful and optimized content on your own domain (blogging is an elegant way to accomplish this).
Explore Google’s tools
We also recommend taking advantage of the robust set of tools Google is offering, such as Authorship, to stand out in the search landscape and integrate Google+ features such as +1 button or adding your Google+ page to your own site to give your content the best visibility possible in search.
The bottom line: it’s time to get serious about creating a digital strategy that sits at the search / social intersection. Savvy companies are already here, but many still need to catch up.