December 4, 2011 Duncan Alney

Social Media And SEO: An Interview With The Kinetic Alan K’necht

social media and SEO

Do social media and SEO go together? Alan K’necht says so. We hung out in San Francisco recently. He’s candid, cerebral and caffeinated.

His handle on social media and SEO – and online marketing in general make him a hot commodity at conferences all over the world. In addition to speaking, conducting corporate training, attending to all his clients (he’s founder of K’nechtology and a partner at Digital Always Media), he’s an internationally published columnist and even written a book: The Last Original Idea.

Social Media and SEO

What role does social media play in the future of SEO?

Social media has always been a critical part of SEO but up until recently it didn’t form part of the various search engine algorithms. Marketing especially word of mouth marketing has always influenced the terms people search on and will continue forever.

The big change that has already started taking place and will continue to evolve is the impact of where people search and what comes up in their results. Both Google and Bing now include various social sites content in their search results, are continuously monitoring social sites like Twitter and Facebook for breaking news or topics and are within an hour or less adjusting search results to ensure their users are finding the latest relevant content. This impact is only going to be further improved upon by the leading search engines.

The second biggest impact on search in the future by social is where people search. This is in some ways a step back in time before search engines existed and people search for product information, product or service recommendations etc. from their friends and acquaintances. The difference now is their network is connected through several key social sites and they can query this entire network (through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.) with great ease where in the physical world they might have only asked less than a handful of people. They are now asking the people they trust instead of a search engine, plus they can go to review sites and see what the general public thinks of something instead of professional reviewers.


Thoughts on Google Plus causal effects on Google search results?

There are no casual effects here. Google has come out and already stated that +1 on pages is now part of their ranking algorithm and that it will continue. I’m sure they’re looking at their own social network of G+ to see which content is being shared the most, what words/phrases are appearing within the comments of those shares to ascertain various content ranking factors beyond what was contained within the words of the page.

Even today if you’re logged into your Google Account, Google will show you how many +1 a particular search result has received and which of your contacts (from G+) gave them if any.


Are analytics misunderstood and misused?

What a loaded question. Yes!

Now let me explain and expand on that point as someone who’s been heavily involved in web analytics since the mid 1990s. Analytics are there to illuminate the good & the bad with your website and or Internet based marketing efforts. Data used in analytics has and always will be a sampling and is not an absolute. As a university professor once told my class “statistics are there to prove whatever you need to prove”. That’s where the misuse starts.

As a sampling, the data is open to interpretation and conjecture. It needs to be analyzed and not just reported on. The classic example is the recent move by Google to hide organic search terms from web analytics capture (under the disguise of user privacy). The SEO community is up in arms over it because they now have a harder time proving what they’re doing actually works. While Google stated loss of this data should be less than 1 digit as a percentage (no more than 9.444444% to round down to 9%) most clients are seeing a loss of data of 10 – 25% (applies to the US only). Yet that means we still have a minimum of 75% of quality data. That equates to a Confidence Interval of 99.9999% (on a total of 1,000 searches) yielding a margin of error of less than 1%, meaning you your analysis is virtually still 100% intact.

Further use of analytic data by those who don’t know or understand statistical data still continues today when trying to measure social marketing. Back in the 90s people liked to report Hits (a meaningless stat except to server administrators) because it was the biggest number, this got replaced by page views and then visits. All are just as meaningless out of context. Now comes along the desire to measure the investment in social marketing (commonly referred to as social media) and what do those same people who reported hits start reporting, followers, fans, likes all with no context which makes them a meaningless number. Now in all fairness the art of social marketing analytics is in its infancy and there isn’t much to report yet, but people still need to stop reporting useless facts as if they were the gospel.


One piece of advice on social analytics for our readers?

Try to find the reason why your organization has entered into the world of social media marketing and the goals towards that end. Then attempt to measure the success towards those goals.  Don’t simply report on easy to obtain numbers on their own (for example followers or a Klout score). These are mere data points for your analysis and for now, you may have to rely on multiple sources and your own ingenuity to derive the meaning from them.


Want to learn more about social media and SEO? Follow Alan on Twitter, he’s @aknecht.

Duncan Alney

CEO at Firebelly
Fun Fact: Duncan co-authored the book "Facebook Marketing Secrets." He founded Firebelly in 2001.
Duncan Alney

About the Author

Duncan Alney Fun Fact: Duncan co-authored the book "Facebook Marketing Secrets." He founded Firebelly in 2001.

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