Since its inception, Microsoft’s Bing has been slammed as a Google wannabe, and their latest social media foray does little to dispel the perception. Bing is now issuing Webmaster Tools videos where a software engineer dispenses weighty advice on the inner workings of the search engine algorithms to help websites rank higher in a purely organic fashion. If that brings up images of Google’s Matt Cutts, who originated the concept and has brought it to a high art, then you’re catching the drift. It doesn’t help that the chosen spokesperson Duane Forrester could pass as Cutts’ slightly chinnier second cousin. Forrester’s advice also came off as a poor alternative to Cutts’ usually incisive and revealing diatribes, as his videos on establishing authority focused on the aspects of providing rich detail and quality content. This advice is as relevant and useful to the SEO set as reminding them to actually turn their computers on before accessing a website.

Yes, provide rich detail and quality content, and don’t forget to use bread on your sandwich or you’ll get mayo all over your hands. There is another SEO element that has become the most impactful, and it’s social.

Painful Elaboration of the Obvious

Sociology has been termed the “painful elaboration of the obvious,” and the standard run of the mill SEO advice doled out by these pseudo-gurus seems to follow in those footsteps. To the SEO expert who has found his client’s article site devastated by Google’s Panda Farmer updates the rich detail and quality content chestnut comes off sounding just as hollow and obvious as it really is. A much more significant factor is the determination of exactly how content achieves the type of relevancy that is rewarded with high SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), and to achieve an understanding of those aspects can separate the SEO wheat from the chaff.

Social Has Trumped Conventional SEO Strategies

If there is one word that is critical to achieving SEO relevancy in today’s online universe it has to be “social.” The search engines (primarily Google as… are there really any other search engines?) have been tweaking their algorithms to follow the headlong rush into social media, and thus are re-evaluating their measurements of the value of online content by looking at it through social network-colored glasses. In a clear break from the algorithms’ past when the evaluation was based primarily on variety and uniqueness of the actual physical content on a website, the tide is now shifting to how it synchronizes with social media parameters.

Outranking through Social Integration & Response

If we take an example of two similar websites on virtually identical topics with content that is sufficiently well-written and unique (read non-plagiarized), those sites would have ranked similarly in the past. However, today they might be hundreds of SERPs apart based on how they have incorporated social content prerequisites. If the content on Site A is being amply shared; tweeted; reposted on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+; and the images placed on a myriad of Pinterest boards, then it is going to massively outrank the very similar content on Site B that is largely ignored by the social networking set.

This re-weighting of the parameters that constitute search engine position success is revolutionary. No longer is it sufficient to produce blah rich detail blah quality content blah as if what you’re creating is not striking a chord in the social media galaxy, you’ll be at the bottom of the SERPs along with the Esperanto websites and the spun content aggregators. The Like, +1 and similar buttons have taken on an impact that dwarfs the previous SEO prerequisites and the onus towards obtaining top SERPs now lies not so much in what you’re posting, but how others react to it. If they go on a share marathon, you’re off to the races. If it falls flat and is generally ignored, then strap on your parachute and get ready for the SERP freefall!