The SMO of SEO – It’s all Changing Again!


Social media optimization (SMO) has been around a few years, but recently has taken on a new depth of meaning. Joshua Berg, an expert in this field, is now saying that social media optimization (SMO) is part of SEO, and he’s exactly right. Originally, SMO simply referred to driving traffic to your website or blog from social channels. We’ve come a long way since then! Now SMO is a growing piece of the SEO puzzle.

Today the implications of social media optimization are much broader, and reach into the very core of search. To begin with, Google indexes all Google Plus posts and has been indexing Facebook comments for some time now. Google also has access to business or “Fan” pages, and indexes those posts as well as the comments people leave. So your social activity is being amplified directly in Google search. By definition, you are optimizing your content in Google search by posting to social channels.

Social Ranking Signals

Google has made it clear that it takes social signals into account when ranking content. This means that content with lots of likes, plus ones, comments and shares will be seen as high quality and ranked better in search. In the new world of search these social signals take on new meaning when understanding authority as well.

In the world of SMO, these new ranking signals have a fundamental component of authority. Meaning that the social interactions your content receives isn’t the only factor. Rather, the importance lies in who is interacting with your content. When you receive interaction from people whom Google has determined to be authoritative, those signals are very powerful. It’s difficult to say for sure, but social signals from authoritative people are likely orders of magnitude more important than lower authority signals.

Hummingbird, the Semantic Web and SMO

With Hummingbird, Google made the most significant change to its ranking algorithm in over a decade, and this places social media optimization at the center of the game. Hummingbird is Google’s official switch into semantic search. Semantic search has a very social component in that Google search is attempting to understand who you are so that it can answer your queries meaningfully, not just with keyword dense content.

Understanding “meaning” means Google needs to understand you, because meaning is very personal. What holds meaning to me may not hold the same meaning for you. This means understanding who your friends are, what you like, what they like, how you answer questions, and a host of other information which is available on social networks and no where else.

There is no complete mention of the semantic web without mentioning the man who literally wrote the book David Amerland. Mr. Amerland is a wealth of knowledge, and fortunately for us, he is about as social as they come. Connect with him now for a much broader understanding of the semantic web.

The Experts Weigh in

SMO is the New SEO
SMO is the New SEO

In a recent Hangout on Air, Mark Traphagen and Joshua Berg, two experts in the field of SMO and SEO, discussed this topic at length. For example Joshua said, “social signals provide a much better way of filtering out the noise and improving the quality of search results.” Mark agreed, “as the social web emerges it provides a better set of signals about what is valuable on the web.”
To take advantage of what SMO has to offer Joshua gives us seven steps to follow:

  1. Reputation – build your reputation as a reliable qualified source
  2. Engagement – encourage more engagement, sharing & reciprocate
  3. Authority – become a notable authority in your field of expertise
  4. Leadership – harness originality & creativity, be a Thought Leader
  5. Social – be social, find and engage sociable experts in your field
  6. Media – know your social media platforms to maximize influence
  7. Optimization – improve technical aspects to increase optimization