How SEO and Social Media Are Similar in 2023
And why we’ll see more content creators ranking on Google in the coming months...
It started in 2014 when Google first mentioned E-A-T in their Search Quality Guidelines. This simple acronym was an easy way to determine if a webpage or website was helpful to users when it displayed a high level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
I want to go back even further though. When I first donned my marketing professional hat, back in 2007, my job consisted of knowing how trade shows worked, making friends with all the local print shop owners, and having at least a general understanding of radio spot sponsorships. The startup that I worked for, which would eventually become a multibillion-dollar IPO, had a website. But it was run by my buddy who sat next to me in the bullpen. It was really just a one-page site meant for customers to find the phone number and see a picture of our smiling CEO, the same man they’d seen on TV, in print ads, and on billboards across America. It was all effective marketing and a great way to build a business…16 years ago.
Inbound Marketing Changed Everything
Things have changed an awful lot since my first days in marketing. But the biggest change came somewhere around 2012, a few years after Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, coined the term inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is marketing as we know it today. It’s SEO. It’s social media marketing. It’s digital marketing. Inbound marketing is marketing without the pushy sales tactics that make you feel icky. It’s helpful. It’s educational. It’s indirect.
Inbound marketing is an introvert finding your website after Googling ‘how to install a new bathroom faucet’ because he doesn’t want to invite a plumber into his house. But then, clicking the “Call Us” button when he realizes just how tiny the space is under the sink.
HubSpot defines Inbound Marketing as a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound, traditional marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re actively searching for and solves problems they actually have.
People don’t want to be sold to anymore. Sure, back in 1985 when someone came to your door selling encyclopedias, that was a good thing. You’d been missing the S and T editions for a couple of years and meaning to replace them. Plus, why wouldn’t you trust the nice man wearing a tie with a real business card? It’s 1985, you can’t just get those anywhere!
Well, here in 2023, that’s just not how the world works any longer. If someone comes to my door, it better be because I invited them. Bonus if they have cookies. Trade shows are mostly a thing of the past, too. We mute television ads and who even listens to the radio anymore? When it comes to marketing, it’s all done here, online. Marketing is more targeted and more personalized than ever before, and when done really well it just feels less like, well less like marketing, than it once did. It’s educational, experiential, and informational.
Did you know that there are over 99,000 Google searches every second? That means by the time you finish reading this paragraph, roughly another half a million Google searches were made. Of course, social media is important, too. There are over 200,000 million small businesses on Instagram, alone. Don’t even get me started on Threads and its 100 million signups in one weekend! I don’t love social media either, but it is a must in your business marketing plan.
The Buyer’s Journey
Here’s why all this matters. The process of making a purchase doesn’t start with someone waking up and saying, “I’m gonna buy that <product/service> today.” If it were that easy, we’d all be much richer. Thankfully, the marketing nerds of old have gone before us to break down the buyer’s journey and how it pertains to our online marketing.
Step One is the Awareness Stage. During the awareness stage, buyers become aware of a problem.
• “My ear won’t stop ringing.”
• “Why does the AC in my car not get cold?”
• “I’m having trouble focusing at work.”
Each of these problems has a number of possible solutions. They could all be solved at home, with a product, or with a service. The catch is that at this point the buyer is only aware of the problem. They are in search of a solution. Spoiler alert - you have the solution!
Step Two is the Consideration Stage. During the consideration stage, after they’ve done a bit of searching, they’ve become aware of and are now considering solutions to solve their problem.
• “How to treat tinnitus”
• “How to tell if my car needs an AC recharge”
• “Ways to manage ADHD symptoms in adults”
Note that the searcher still hasn’t quite made it to a business yet. They’re still figuring this thing out. They’re still learning, still considering things for themselves. They’re window shopping. This could take five minutes or five months.
The third and final stage in the buyer’s journey is the Decision Stage. During the decision stage, the buyer will choose which solution to actually implement to solve their problem.
• “ENT near me”
• “Where to get my AC recharged in Phoenix”
• “ADHD therapist near me”
Finally, we’re getting them to spend money! It’s about time, right? That’s really what we’re all here for…I know and helping people, sharing our talents, and doing what we love. It doesn’t hurt that it pays the bills though, does it?
Why Content Creators Will Start Ranking Higher on Google
The big secret here is that they were your customer from the beginning. THIS is why social media content creators are going to start ranking well on Google. They’re great at creating content that hooks their audience from the awareness stage in the buyer’s journey. They understand that if you get them in from step one, they’ll stay with you until the end. Why? Because content creation, especially influencer marketing, depends on getting your audience to trust you! This is what Google wants to see. They’ve been telling us this for years!
Check out Los Angeles-based influencer talent manager and strategist, Harley Jordan’s explanation of how influencer marketing works. She breaks this down so beautifully that I just want to give her a hug! Sure, Harley has a pretty face. But if you think that’s why she’s successful, then you haven’t been paying attention and may be a troll living in your mom's basement. She truly understands the buyer’s journey and how to build trust. She knows that there is so much more to converting sales online than just posting some pretty pictures.
I said that people don’t want to be sold to anymore. It’s because they don’t need to be sold to anymore. Don’t you hate being told something that you already know? It’s frustrating and can feel insulting at worst and like a waste of time at best. That’s why when you create useful, people-first content for your website, it ranks well. That’s why influencers like Harley have huge followings.
People who don’t want to be sold to still have questions, they’re just savvy enough to find the answers for themselves. Sure, you’ll still get the select few who want the hand-holding. They prefer to do everything on the phone. They aren’t the majority. Build your online presence for the people sitting at home thinking of a question on Saturday at 11 pm. They could email you then. But wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they could just find the answer on your website?
Social media content creators are great at this because they’re able to take complex concepts and ideas and break them down into bite-size, digestible pieces of information that an audience who expects instant gratification can easily understand. Google wants to help you make it easy to find.
Another strength social media content creators have is the ability to remain authentic. With the rapid advancement of all things AI when it comes to SEO, Google has built its large language models (LLMs) to understand, learn, and reward people-first content. This means writing for people, not robots. Anyone even a little successful in social media will tell you authenticity is key.
That authenticity is what helps to build trust and keeps bringing people back to your website for solutions. Then, when they’re ready to purchase, you’ll be their go-to. As any good social media manager will also tell you, it takes between 8-12 touches before a customer is ready to buy. You have to build that trust first. Show them you have experience. Show them you’re an expert. Show them you’re an authority in your field.
Stay visible. Stay useful. Stay helpful!
When you do these things, when you display E-E-A-T, your content will rank better. Google offers tons of documentation on how to do these things from an SEO perspective. We teach classes on how to do it, too. Our students say that their favorite part of our SEO classes is that they can ask specific questions about how to do things, instead of just being told what to do by some SEO checklist.
Lastly, give these ladies a follow on Instagram. They are pure geniuses and I’ve learned so much from them. Their work is based on actual strategy-driven concepts that have been proven over and over again.
Allie - Instagram
Sonia - Instagram
Harley – Instagram
Kar - Instagram