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How social search will change SEO for PR pros

Photo courtesy of Matti Mattila via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Matti Mattila via Flickr

It won’t be long before your favorite bloggers begin offering their predictions for the social Web in 2010, and this one could rank near the top of any such list: as more social content is indexed by search engines, we’ll all start finding reviews and comments from our acquaintances first, and from everyone else second. But what will that mean for public relations professionals?

For one thing, search engine optimization is about to become a more organic, socially driven process. Link building, or creating places online that attract many inbound links, will remain crucial. But in order to deliver our news releases, blog posts, videos and other content in search results to more people, we’ll have to make connections online with the people who will be interested in that content. 

Many professional communicators are already doing this not just on Twitter and Facebook, but wherever they find people discussing the topics surrounding their businesses, including Web 1.0 venues like forums, boards and groups. But consider the implications of Google Social Search, a project announced last month, which pulls results from your online social circles into a regular Google search. Despite some hiccups, it looks poised to transform the way we think of SEO. Consider this: if a key criterion of search relevance is your personal acquaintance with the source, the sheer size of the network of contacts you maintain across all social sites becomes a more important factor in how much influence you wield.

Does that mean you should go out and friend anyone who will have you as a friend? No, but it does mean you should try to find people with interests relevant to your brand to listen to and connect with when you recognize a common interest. If you’ve chosen the clans to which you belong carefully based on the topics they’re discussing, you’re relevant to their searches from the start, which is the whole point of SEO.

Google and Bing are bringing more Twitter and Facebook content into their results even for those who do not use social search filtering, and applications like the HuffPost Social News app, which we’ve covered here before, also point to a growing degree of social content filtering on the Web. In 2010, we’ll be looking to maximize impressions for our brands through the growing integration of social sites and search engines.

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