The Year Of Search Engines And Social Media

We are certain that social media marketing - the use of Web 2.0 sites and services - will become an important part of search as well as search engine marketing in 2007.

Some of the most popular articles on Pandia last year did not focus on search engines at all, but on social media - sites categorized under that vague label “Web 2.0“.

Some readers asked us why we would write about partcipatory media, bookmarking services, folksonomies, wikis and social sites. Pandia is, after all, a site about searching and search engines.

Social media as search tools

The reason is simply that we believe that social media - i.e. online sites and services where visitors, not only journalists and editors, produce content - are becoming an important source of information. Searching is all about finding information, and if Web 2.0 sites can help us do that, well, then we will write about it.

Social media are also important for web search because some social media sites and tools, like bookmarking sites, swickies and Rollyo, create vertical, topic oriented selections of the web. These kinds of “web extracts” are becoming more and more important as the web grows bigger and more diverse.

Bookmarking services like, for instance, can be used as search tools in many ways.

You can search it the old fashioned way, using the home page search form. After all, the database consists only of sites and pages hand picked by users, so there is a greater chance of getting high quality sites in the results.

You can also survey online cultural trends by using the tag cloud. And you may find other users that share your interests and find even more sites relevant to your work or hobbies through their bookmarks.

All pages should be open to search engine spiders, so it is also a fair guess that the regular search engines are using results from services like this one in their search algorithms. A bookmark can - in the same way as an inbound link - be counted as a vote for that site or page.

Social media marketing

This brings us to what we believe will be one of the major trends on the search engine marketing arena this year: Social media marketing.

Online marketing is about being seen. You want people to click on links that bring them to your site, and for that to happen, they have to find those links. Social media can help you achieve that, either directly, by delivering information that leads them to your site, or indirectly, if the links provided are found by the search engines and give your pages a boost in regular search engine results.

This leads to a large number of tactics, like for instance:

  • Ensuring that your pages are bookmarked by someone in the major bookmarking sites so they can be found by other “bookmarkers”. The point here is not to spam the bookmarking sites with a large number of bogus accounts, but to make the other users find your site and bookmark it on their own.
  • Making sure that your articles are found by users of recommendation sites like digg, Netscape and reddit. One way way of doing this is to include links or buttons below your blog posts, helping your readers to submit your article (see, for instance, the end of this article).
  • Going viral, submitting — for instance — a humorous video to YouTube or a great photo to flickr, items that directly or indirectly brand your site or service.
  • Taking part in discussions on online discussion forums, the comment section on blogs, providing answers in online Q&A services etc., making sure that your name is well known. Even if such sites may stop you from advertising your site or URL, the buzz may lead other bloggers and webmasters to learn to know you, link to you or visit you.
  • Making active use of advanced blog features, including RSS feeds. Although the large majority of Web surfers have no idea what a Web feed is, the most influential bloggers do, and you want them to find your articles and link to you.

As Cameron Olthuis has noted, such tactics actually include two types of Web 2.0 marketing:

Social Media Optimization, meaning “the process of refining a website (optimizing it) so that it’s awareness and content are easily spread through social mediums and online communities by users and visitors of the website.”

Social Media Marketing, meaning “the creation and distribution of content and other messages through the social web by some form of viral marketing.”

It seems the word social media marketing is now used to cover both types of activities. Not all of this can be counted as search engine marketing per se, but many of these tactics do include elements of SEM.

Note: This is an archived version of article. Originally written by: Per and Susanne Koch