Has Google Penguin Socialised SEO?

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Herdy Ramanuj
on 21/5/12

With the latest Google Penguin update, which I’m sure you all know about, is SEO dead? And is Social Media now taking over or just becoming the main component of SEO along with content?

Since the latest Google update SEO guidelines have been put in place to ensure websites are easily accessible and valuable to users. Google’s main aim has been to return relevant results to ultimately make searchers happy. This latest update has made the SEO industry think about new ways to boost ranking for clients. Slowly but surely it looks like the whole SEO industry is arriving at the same conclusion:

1) People only link to high quality relevant content

2) Most effective way of attracting links is to create high quality content and create a buzz about this through social channels.

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3) The only links Google and other search engines will never devalue are those that are completely natural.

It has become clear that search engines are now crawling social channels, proven by a study by Branded3 most recently. Whether it’s just Google plus who knows, but it’s clear that link building with social media allows you to push your content to as many people as possible.

If a brand is looking to improve rankings it’s essential that they’re not only creating great content but also engaged actively in the communities relevant to their industry. Simply making your site linkable through the creation of interesting, usable content is not enough – brands must ensure that they are being talked about but not just by anyone…figures with authority. Although some may argue that authority can be manipulated. This is something that may become the new meaning of ‘Black Hat SEO/Social Media’…

While links remain central to Google’s algorithm, and will continue to do so, the challenge for SEO practitioners is to get links and shares from relevant, high authority sources. By doing this, brands can build strong, trustworthy links that are supported by social signals that confirm their relevancy to search engines. Google can no longer rely on links alone as an indication of authority. Since people began paying for links Google has been looking for a way to differentiate between trustworthy links and less trustworthy links…and social has become the been able to do this.

Peoples search habits will also lean more towards social channels as users increasingly trust and value recommendations from friends over search engines. If I’m looking for a restaurant within Manchester I’ll tweet instead of searching. Google simply doesn’t want to lose out to social networks and it shows, especially with the introduction of Google Plus. Moving forward it looks like an SEO strategy will be built around social media… rather than links. Don’t get me wrong link building is still essential but it has changed. Take this chart for example from SEO Moz’s, Rand Fishkin, you can see how the growth and link building has changed over time. With the linkerati and the social media users now having a greater influence in the web, and effectively search engine results:

Ultimately the brands that are building a strong presence within social media communities through creating quality content, trusted links and an authoritative social presence are going to be the winners.