My recent post "Where's your brain at? Where's your consultancy at?" was prompted by a fascinating discussion at the CIPR Social Summer session on the 1st July at which we debated aspects of search engine optimisation (SEO) and the PR profession's paralysing hesitancy to grasp the SEO nettle.
Well personally I'm excited not paralysed, and I keep a beady eye on great information sources such as SEOmoz and Search Engine Watch, and I'm posting today to highlight a couple of posts I've just found.
Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz's CEO, has written a super perspective that should be read by everyone interested in the ebb and flow of the SEO world, particularly as it relates to activity one might consider to be in the PR domain. "The Death and Rebirth of Editorial Citation on the Web" identifies three epoques to date of web linking activity:
1993 - 2000: The beginning of the web is marked by an influx of researchers, academics, hobbyists and enthusiasts. Nearly every link created has an editorial, reference purpose behind it. A link is one page telling its viewers that another page has useful, interesting or worthwhile information about a specific topic.
2001 - 2005: As the web commercializes at an accelerated pace and PageRank becomes a familiar concept, links drift further away from editorial votes and more towards self-interested endorsements, often with financial motivations.
2006 - 2010: The web's link graph swings further away from editorial references towards ever-more commercial interests. Meanwhile, the social web rises with the popularity of sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. These communities often contain a much higher percentage of editorial citations, particularly those that contain smaller communities inside them (LinkedIn groups, pockets of Twitter users and Facebook friends)
Rand continues to conclude that SEO has come to the point where "social media marketing is a no brainer"... most definitely Rand! Do take the time to find out how he arrives at this conclusion.
Eric Enge, President of SEO consultancy Stone Temple, is equally excited. In a response on Search Engine Watch to Rand's post, titled "The death of natural linking", Eric expands on the situation and then reaches a stunning conclusion:
I like doing PR, both via press release and the old fashioned manual way, syndicating high quality content, identifying link rich market segments from competitive analysis, and strategies of these types. This approach has worked extremely well.
As for social media, you need to be investing in this. How quickly it will become a significant ranking factor isn't clear, and I don't expect it to happen overnight, but it's time will come.
Even so, links will still be a big factor. Bear in mind, if 20 percent of the web's links exist to influence search results, than that means that 80 percent do not. Still a lot of meat there for the search engines.
So there we have it. The SEO community is grabbing at public relations. Interestingly, imho, they are likely to have as much of a clue about what PR truly entails as the typical PR professional does about the intricacies of SEO. Knowing quite a bit about both, I'd say the web-savvy PR professional is more likely to get to grips with SEO faster than the other way round, my only concern is that they don't seem to want to.
Lastly, if you'd like to find out more about social search, here's a post I wrote a couple of years back but has stood the tests of time. In fact, Rand and Eric just appear to have validated it: "The power of social bookmarking and how to use it in your organisation today."