Throughout the past decade, Google has completely redesigned their algorithm. With massive changes like the Mayday and Panda update, huge numbers of "thin" websites have been removed from the search results, and authority websites have taken control. 

Throughout all of this change, though, there is one aspect of SEO that has stayed constant: backlinks. Backlinks have always been the cornerstone of any good SEO campaign. On-page SEO does play an important part as well, but as long as you build enough backlinks, your website can rank regardless of almost any other factors.

Recently, with new announcements like Google+, trusted search and the overall push towards "personalized search," this could change completely. It's becoming clear Google's beginning to give more authority to websites with more social power. On top of this, with Google's release of the new "+1" button, websites with more "+1" are already seeing their rankings improve.

As search engine optimization is shaken to its core, it's important for internet marketers to assess the situation and adapt our SEO techniques. Although personalized search will bring massive changes to the face of SEO, it will also create new ways to promote your website and gain targeted traffic.

In today's article, we'll be talking about why social "likes" maybe overtaking conventional backlinks and what internet marketers can do to keep up with the change.

Measuring the Popularity and Value of a Website

When Google created their initial algorithm, it used backlinks to determine how popular a specific website was. If you liked a website and gained value through visiting the website, you would naturally link back to it. For this reason, websites with more backlinks were usually of the highest quality.

Because of this, backlinks have been the most consistent aspect of search engine optimization. However, backlinks do have their flaws. For instance, it can be difficult to monitor exactly where backlinks are coming from. On top of this, many "black hat" SEO experts have figured out ways to game the system, forcing Google to constantly update their algorithm just to keep spam websites at bay.

Social media "likes" and "+1's," on the other hand, give search engines a much broader perspective on how valuable a website actually is.

With Bing's new "trusted search," if one of your Facebook friends "likes" a website, that specific website will be ranked higher on your search engine results. This accomplishes two things: one, it shows Google someone gained value through that website, and two, it helps display results that closely match exactly what you're looking for. This provides a personalized user experience, unlike anything backlinks, could do.

Google's "+1" button acts much the same, although, with the new Google+, the feature is much more integrated within Google's infrastructure. This means search results can be dramatically affected based more on the numbers of "+1's" and less on the number of backlinks.

How to Prepare for "Socialized" Search Engines

With all these changes in mind, adding a social media arm to your SEO campaign is more necessary than ever. Before, it looked like the major search engines were only testing out how social media websites could affect rankings, meaning internet marketers could still rank well without creating social profiles. However, now it looks like all major search engines are making a massive push towards personalized search and social integration, meaning creating and promoting social profiles is now mandatory.

In the short term, backlinks will still be extremely important. However, as time goes on and more updates come out, backlinks may very well become less meaningful in the grand scheme of your website's rankings. For internet marketers, it's time to lay the foundation for a social-driven SEO campaign.

Thanks to the simplicity of social media websites, it's very easy to design a page for your website or business. From this point, it's a simple matter of promoting these social pages alongside building backlinks and doing regular on-page SEO. Shifting your focus to social media while continuing to use current SEO techniques is a fantastic way to ensure your website continues to receive traffic while updates are being rolled out.

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As you can see, the world of SEO is changing rapidly. Within the span of a few short months, the focus has shifted from solely backlinks to complete social integration with backlinks taking a reduced role. 

If you're interested in learning about the newest updates from all three major search engines (Yahoo, Bing, and Google), fill out the form below to receive our weekly newsletter. We won't send you spam… just the basic facts regarding the latest changes within the world of search engine optimization.

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