Social media used to be a ‘nice’ add-on to a digital marketing strategy; a way of showing consumers you’re a brand with its finger on the pulse. But 2011 marks the year when social media has shifted from being nice to essential.

In May 2010, the overall visits to social networking sites took over the overall number of visits to Search Engines, clearly highlighting the reason why brands should be actively integrating this channel into their overall marketing strategy.

Social media’s public involvement means it’s a fantastic channel for market and product research and an ideal space for improving customer service, but it's also an excellent way to add variation to link portfolios and turns the public themselves into handy link builders.

By adding social functionality to share this linkbait, with the likes of Tweet functionality, and Facebook Likes, the content can travel further through a multitude of users and followers. Usually this is much further than could be achieved through solely trying to link to the content or placing it on a blog.

Social elements play a huge part in the traffic generated, but also add to the fact that these citations and “votes” in the form of Tweets and Likes go a long way to indicating to search engines that this content has value and deserves to rank for relevant keywords. 

Integration of Search and Social Graph

Put simply, social media can be used to drive traffic further by enhancing search results:

•  Search engines have now confirmed they take note of social activity such as Tweets and Facebook ‘Likes’ when it comes to assessing a page's worth.

•  Social profiles are considered to be the trustworthy ‘voice of the people’ that appear on highly authoritative domains.

•  Social channels forge an increase in traffic every time a ‘Like’ button is installed.

•  Video content, especially when it appears with thumbnails, is ranking especially well directly within Google.

•  Site activity like blog comments signal to search engines that something is popular and worthwhile.

But what’s particularly appealing about the search/social relationship is that it’s truly symbiotic. Not only does social media help search, search can also help social media.

It’s only by integrating social and search that you find the digital marketing sweet spot. This new approach is helping agencies secure some impressive results for their clients.

Since we integrated search and social for one of our clients, they have seen a 189% increase in traffic from social media platforms, a 219% increase in revenue and a 102% increase in traffic to the main site after a pre-sale event for Facebook fans. 

The importance of integration in digital marketing can feel like a hoary old concept. But the emergence of social media means integration is as important as ever. 

Nick Jones

Published 21 April, 2011 by Nick Jones

Nick Jones is MD at I Spy Marketing and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Nick on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter

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Comments (3)


Dan Kelly, SEO Executive at Search Laboratory

Great post! This highlights just how the online search landscape is constantly changing. Ignoring social media isn't an option for any company that seriously wants to compete in their niche.

I'd be very interested to see where this graph takes us in 3 years from now. An 'SEO exec' may soon be merged with a social media consultant..

over 7 years ago


Eddie Smith

Enjoyed the post Nick and wanted to comment that an important aspect of search & social is the ability to measure and monitor links shared within the social web.
If marketers can monitor link sharing within the social web, then they are able to tune campaigns to boost traffic generated from these shared links.
For example, here's an analysis of links shared within twitter over the past 30 days for, and - Marketers for these firms should understand how social link sharing is occurring, how their social link traffic compares to competitors and tune campaigns to boost this type of social traffic into their domains.

over 7 years ago

Mike Gomez

Mike Gomez, SEO Analyst at Epiphany

Hi Nick, Good Post.

It would be interesting to see that chart if it were search engines vs. the bigger social sharing platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc) to see if UK traffic is as big as made out. It could be argued that the accumulation of 'Social Networking and Forums' is massively out-proportioned to the number of search engine traffic.

That said, there's no doubt that social networking is on the increase and adding social functionality to a website aids traffic and potentially rankings.

If you're providing fantastic content on your blog and the social functionality is there, it can quickly spread across your target niche. Paired with a popular and engaging Facebook page / Twitter profile or the like, the seeding of the content can become even easier when wanting to expose it to a target audience. This can result in some great natural link opportunities, in addition to the shares, whereby other websites and blogs refer to your own website when continuing the discussion in their own articles.

SEOmoz recently published a decent article on the correlation of social shares and rankings - worth a read at


about 7 years ago

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