Social media has been the hot marketing topic for some time now. The first thing most people think of when they hear “social media” is Facebook, and with good reason. Facebook is currently the second most visited site on the web, only Google currently gets more visitors on a monthly basis.
However, from a search engine optimization (website ranking) standpoint, Twitter currently carries much more weight. Unlike Facebook, the search engines have full access to Twitter’s data.
Back in 2009, Twitter partnered with Google and Bing to make its “firehose” of data available to them. At the time, it was unclear how much of the information the search engines would utilize.
Since then, Google has repeatedly emphasized the importance of using social media for promotion, but had shied away from giving a definitive answer as to whether Twitter was a factor in search engine placement. Late last year, Google and Bing finally confirmed that they use Twitter as a determining factor in search rankings.
In addition to acknowledging their inclusion of Twitter’s data in their ranking formulas, Google and Bing also mentioned they factor in the “authority” of the twitter account. That means simply touting your products and services exclusively will be seen as spam and given no weight. In order to be seen as credible, an account will also need to promote others and have a following of some sort.
Currently, there are very few dentists actively using social media, especially Twitter, to promote. This will be changing soon. While social media is overhyped in some ways, the effects of social media on SEO over the next 2 years are being undervalued. The first dentists in each market to adapt to this increasingly important aspect of optimization and promotion will be far ahead of the curve, while those who wait may fall too far behind to catch up.
Just as those who had the foresight to migrate their marketing efforts from the phone book to the web years ago had (and still have) an advantage over their competitors, so will those who embrace social media now.
With Twitter posts (tweets) being included in search results and links counting toward search engine optimization, the question is no longer whether you should have a Twitter account, but rather, will you be one of the first dentists in your area to leverage it, or will you be trying to play catch up in the future.