Search Versus Social GraphSocial Versus Search – In 2010, we saw social media usage continue to rise globally. Facebook alone gets 25% of all U.S. pageviews and roughly 10 percent of all of Internet visits. Instead of focusing on search engine optimization (SEO), in 2011 we’ll see social media optimization become a priority at many news organizations, as they continue to see social close the gap on referrals to their sites. In fact, in SEO, social media is one part of the factors Google uses to in rankings.

Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics and news industry analyst at Outsell, recently pointed out that social networks have become the fastest growing source of traffic referrals for many news sites. For many, social sites like Facebook and Twitter only account for 10% to 15% of their overall referrals, but are number one in growth. For news startups, the results are even more heavy on social. And of course, the quality of these referrals is often better than readers who come from search. They generally yield more pageviews and represent a more loyal reader than the one-off visitors who stumble across the site from Google.

In 2011 your company better have a social media plan in place or you are going to be left behind in the rankings. Not to mention the killer referrals you are going to be losing.

Source: Mashable

With the web getting bigger and bigger day by day it’s important to focus on a niche.  Once you own the niche you can expand.  Well this is the same principle as ranking locally versus nationally – excluding eCommerce sites.

If you have been following SEO you would have noticed Google is focusing more of their search results based on local factors.   In fact, Google Places itself is starting to show up in the search results a lot more with local searches.

So now you are wondering “how do I rank high locally?”

It’s not simple.  In fact, its more tricker than ranking nationally.  Local searches seem to place a lot of emphasis on company mentions, consistency, and reviews.   While national seems to focus more on link popularity and anchor text.

Now that you understand what factors in to local searches we now need to go over the ‘how’ part.

The first step:  Submitting to Google places and other directories.  Try getlisted.org to help guide you.  This site lets you know if you are found in popular local sites like Google Places, Yahoo Local, Hotfrog, and Best of the Web.

Second step: Submit to other company directories/databases to help build your company name and consistency.  Google gets their information directly form  3 places – Localeze, Info USA, Acxiom.  But make sure to keep adding to other places such as superpages.com and yellowbot.

Third step: Getting reviews and mentions.  This is hardest step and takes some creativity.   You are on the internet with consistency, now you need people to talk about your business and give some positive reviews.  The easiest way is to ask fellow costumers and friends to write a review on Google Places or Yelp.   Another way is to give out discounts if someone writes a review for you. The options are endless.  So try different strategies to see what works best for you.

Those are some simple steps to help build your brand locally and raise higher in the rankings.  But! don’t forget to keep building backlinks, producing good content, and marketing you company.  There are over 200 factors in which determine your rankings, and each factor could change in importance.  Keep diversifying and keep promoting.

RJD International is the #1 Dallas SEO Consultant.  Be sure to check out my pricing and email me with any questions.

The past week there has been a lot of news about a company on purpose treating their customers poorly so that they would receive bad reviews.  With these bad reviews came good results in the search engines.  As a result Google changed their algorithm to demote websites with bad reviews.  You can read more about it here.

However, what no one has talked about is how this is going to effect SEO and how are SEO consultants going to implement this.   My guess is that this will probably not change much of anything in the SERP rankings.  But I am also guessing consultants and companies will now be worried about getting good reviews.  And as a result, a lot of spamming on review sites is about to start taking place.

“So what should  I do?”

Nothing.

Anytime you to try to cheat the system, you will have a slight positive then a huge drop.   Google is smart, their computers are smart.  Cheating them is not the way to the top of the rankings.

But what you can do is ask customers to write a favorable review in Google and give them a discount the next time they come in or buy something.

SEO is about creativity, not spamming.

2010 has been a crazy, bumpy road for SEO.  Let’s review some of the things that happened this year with Google and see what’s going to happen in 2011.

In 2010 Google made a lot of changes.  Introducing Google Instant – making keyword research that more important. Putting a priority on local – especially Google Places.  Making a dashboard – making  analytics better.

With Google feeling the pressure from social, aka Facebook.  Google has changed how they view search.  No longer is it about the quantity and quality of backlinks but it is now about the number of reviews, mentions, reputation quantity and quality of backlinks.

Reviews, Mentions, Reputations? Welcome to 2011.  Google will be placing an emphasis on mentions from Twitter and Facebook. They will also be looking at the reputation of each account to determine the authority of that mention.

Facebook and Twitter are not the only places Google will be looking.  They will also be looking at other directories for consistence such as SuperPages.  They will be looking at review sites such as Yulp and Judy’s Book to gather reviews and judge reputation.

Search Engine Optimization in 2011 is going to be about building a reputation and brand locally.  It’s time to get serious now before you get left out in 2011 because if you think 2010 was difficult 2011 is going to be more complicated and more competitive.

If you would like more information please be sure to consult with me, your Dallas SEO Consultant.