It used to be, about five years ago, when SEO (search engine optimization) was the fixation of every online publisher. From blogs like this one, all the up to massive content producing sites like NYTimes.com, the focus was dead set on search optimization and getting higher rankings in Google and the exclusive environment of Google News.
But there’s a shift happening in the way online publishers are generating the highest volume, and the highest quality traffic. And that Facebook is becoming more valuable than Google.
Oh snap… I did not just say that did I?
Oh yeah, you heard me right – Facebook is becoming (or perhaps already is) the more authoritative referral source of online traffic to sites than Google.
And how do I know this, you ask?
Let’s take a look at The New York Times new paywall structure – the strategy implemented to charge for online content.
The New York Times set up a paywall for it’s online edition (NYTimes.com) where you can read up to 20 articles per month for free from the site.
Traffic from Google News will be charged after only 5 visits per month..
However, traffic that comes to a NYTimes.com article from Facebook or Twitter is 100% exempt from the 20 article per month limit – meaning, when you visit an NYTimes.com article from Facebook or Twitter, it doesn’t count against your monthly quota of free articles.
So why would The New Yorks Times charge after 20 visits to their site, and after 5 visits from Google News, but completely exempt traffic from Facebook and Twitter?
To put it simply, social networks are driving a massive amount of traffic to newspaper sites.
Is SEO dead then?
I don’t think so, because you still have the relevance and shear volume of search traffic happening on Google. Articles that get a top ranking from your site for long tail keywords can be a long term source of continual traffic to your site.
But for sites that are active, producing multiple articles per day on news worthy stories, the NYT is finding that social networks are more valuable than Google.
Why you need a blog and Facebook Fan Page
This brings me to the purpose of my title.
The future of the online world is social, which will also include search. Search algorithms will become highly optimized based on a “friend interactions and recommendations” – it’s inevitable.
And with social networks like Facebook becoming such huge sources of high quality traffic, you can benefit greatly by having a blog and a Facebook Fan Page.
I’ll use this blog – SMSEO – as my example of how to leverage content and social medial.
Every article I write here at SMSEO gets published on the SMSEO Facebook Fan Page.
On my the SMSEO Fan Page, there is a title and an image for the article, along with an additional word or two that highlights the content of the article back here on my blog.
I share each article on my Facebook page with a shortened URL either from Bit.ly or Goo.gl, and that link is clickable, which drives traffic directly to my site.
It’s a strategy that works.
And in the long term, the NYT sees social networks as so such a huge factor in traffic, they decided to keep their content free to those coming from places like Facebook and Twitter.
It’s worth considering.