David slays Goliath. My students at work, handily outranking the vast majority of global digital marketing firms. Within 7 weeks, 13 students who had no experience with digital marketing of SEO dominated the entire “digital marketing” niche. Kudos to the my students at the University of Michigan - Dearborn College of Business.
As I reflected back on the most recent semester I taught at the University of Michigan, something really jumped out at me. Social signaling is quite possibly the biggest growing component of Google’s algorithm in 2012. It was so impactful, that it actually proved more effective in certain cases than tried and true offsite backlinking.
Let me frame this for those of you who don’t know about the search marketing course I teach. Each semester, I have my students compete against one another for top organic ranks under a keyword term that I preselect. This past semester, it was “digital marketing degree programs”. Students made landing pages and began their optimization process applying the principles and methods I teach in the course. We had a wide variety of landing pages – from blogs on WordPress, to microblogs on Tumblr, to Facebook pages, to dedicated websites.
While most students were off hammering links and posting fresh content like wildfire, I had one student that created no backlinks and only updated his Facebook page. He posted unique updates about 3 times per day and shared multiple engaging stories about the topic. His focus was just to grow his Facebook page into a natural content and signaling machine. In early 2011, that strategy would have gotten that student nowhere in organic search. However, much to my surprise, his Facebook page handily outranked all of the other students applying a heavy dosing a backlinks to non-Facebook landers. I was amazed to see that. It was a true reflection of Google’s post-Panda updates shifting much of the algorithm’s weight into social signals.
What does this mean for you all? A prudent social media strategy needs to be a centerpiece of your organic search plans. Keep in mind that these signals effect the page-level metrics. A social strategy needs to be deep, as well as unique. With the advent of Your World, the first thing you should do if you haven’t done it already is to create a Google+ page. There are big changes coming, and socializing your brand, product, or service more is a step in the right direction.