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SEO and Social in 2012: 4 Takeaways (plus my upcoming speaking gigs)

This post started as a short announcement of the recent conferences where I'll be speaking in the next few months. But once pen hit paper, I guess I had more to say! The merger and acquisition of AudetteMedia by RKG has certainly taken some time and attention. It's good to be back at my desk. Let the work begin! SEO and Social in 2012: 4 Takeaways Welcome to another chapter in the ever-unfolding saga of search marketing! This year feels a bit different somehow. First Panda disrupted SEO, then Google Plus disrupted social media (but the bigger change was how Search Plus is disrupting Google's search results). Facebook is seemingly unstoppable. Yet new upstarts like Pinterest and Quora show us there's still room for fresh, smart ideas. More worrying for Google was how CPCs decreased 8% in Q4, raising all kinds of concerns on Wall Street and causing the stock to dive. In tandem, Google decided to roll out Search Plus, which immediately raised outcries in the industry, and even an answer by engineers at Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter in the form of a SERP-cleansing "don't be evil" browser bookmarklet. Desperate times, by all indications, with Google trying to force adoption for its flat-lined Google Plus social network (note carefully the details regarding their reported engagement rate). So what does all this mean for search marketing? Well, let's look at SEO for starters:

  • The obvious trend over the last 24 months has been social, social, social. There are lots of reasons why Google would like to grow beyond PageRank and the link graph, not the least being Facebook's absolute dominance in the space (and a walled garden, at that). But I have to think that "crappy content" and their rise (and subsequent thumping, by Panda) had a little something to do with it. SEO was a pretty simple recipe: authority domain? Check. Keyword data? Check. Lots of easy links? Triple check. Rank? You betcha.
  • Social "metrics" are so nascent as to be virtually indistinguishable... but I promise there's a "there" there. We just need to find it. Maybe it means tying things back to revenue, customer service, or leads. Maybe it means using metrics like followers, likes, or shares. Maybe it's EdgeRank.
  • Whatever social metrics turn into the important ones, any SEO worth their salt had better be looking very closely at social. Ranking is not only influenced by links, on-page factors, and content. Social plays a part, too. Just how big is the question we'll all be answering in 2012.
  • Yet don't forget about classic SEO! Links still matter, and tend to carry more weight (generally speaking) than social engagement metrics. In competitive SERPs, it's usually about domain authority and links.
And now, on with the show...

Conference and Speaking Schedule Here are some upcoming shows where I'll be presenting. If you're attending, please give me a shout. I'd love to connect and talk shop.

This is a classic show and usually one of the most content-rich of any all year. Very advanced topics and a savvy audience make this one a must. Read this interview I did with Todd Mintz recently. Speaking on Advanced Off-Site SEO

  • SMX West (San Jose): February 28 - March 1

The SMX shows have, for me, been the most rewarding of the whole lot. Granted, some of that likely comes from the extra focus they tend to place on SEO and social media, but it's also from the wonderful programming by Danny Sullivan's great team. Speaking on Real Answers to Technical SEO Problems

Last year I had the opportunity to speak at a show called Expon organized by Fabio Ricotta, but unfortunately had to cancel. This year has me going to Brazil for my first keynote. I'm excited by the opportunity and to meet many of the influential people making it happen down in Brazil. If you haven't noticed, Brazil's growth online and in ecommerce is stunning, which is probably why Google is backing this conference. Keynote on Strategic Link Building and Social Media

I'm pretty psyched about this one. Distilled is sort of like a sister company to SEOmoz, and having presented recently at MozCon (which was a fantastic experience), I can't wait to share and learn from the folks at LinkLove. Speaking on some cool stuff! Not yet decided. Several more are planned, including SMX Advanced London and Seattle, SES San Francisco, Shop.org, and SMX East. Hope to see you out there!  

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