Back when search engines were simple, so was SEO. Now SEO in the Bay Area is a lot more complicated, due to search engines changing how they view sites and personalize results. It is not enough anymore to just use the right keywords and have incoming links (although those still contribute). Now it is more important to have identity and relationships. This is where social media enters the game.
Suppose a stranger were to come up to you on the street and said he had a brand new, top of the line gaming computer that he would sell. The only thing is you would need to come to his house a couple blocks away. Chances are you probably would be suspicious and leave the area as quickly as you could. However, if a friend, who works with computers as a hobby, said the same thing, you would probably jump at the chance to at least look at it, whether or not you could afford to buy it. That is a quick illustration of how identity and relationships help with marketing.
Some would argue that social media is moot, because the link from social media sites usually use a redirect or no follow signal that stops the search engines from tracing it back. However, despite the fact that social media links are of less interest to search engines, the links still serve a purpose. The purpose is to spread your content to other users. More visitors to your site will very likely end up resulting in more people linking to your site – both through social media and on their own sites. The links from personal or business sites will count.
It has been proven that site links that have many people click +1 on Google or Like on Facebook also have better rankings. While it is possible that social network data is included, both Bing and Google declare that it is not. Therefore, the correlation between positive social media and higher ranking is likely to be that people are using links away from social media as well.
Another benefit to social media marketing and SEO is that people who know and like your business, and follow it on social media, will become targeted marketing. Since many people see information from friends and friends of friends on social media, that gives your company double or triple exposure when your follower likes or +1s your updates or links. Your follower’s friends are more likely to visit your site when they need or want your product or service because of their relationship with their friend, and the friend’s relationship with your company.
Identity and relationships are an important part of SEO, but they do not replace standard search engine optimization. Good quality, accessible content is still the most important part of SEO in the Bay Area.