SEO has been around since 1995. As a profession, internet marketing specialists, or SEO consultants, wear a variety of hats and function under a variety of titles. Some operate in-house for large companies and keep a pulse on coding and issues within the site that could change SEO rankings, while others work for firms and help primarily with the social media postings that can boost rankings as well. It’s a varied workforce with many different facets, but the ever-changing space of SEO lends itself to a staff that adapts easily and is able to keep abreast of the changing trends that can keep your business at the top of search. One of the largest, recent changes to SEO practices involves the social aspect of SEO rankings. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, has led a variety of webcasts suggesting that social will become an important ranking factor within their search engine rankings. It makes sense, social has infiltrated our lives – it’s about time it takes over our search space as well. Those active within social media (which is a startling 74 percent of women and 62 percent of men according to a 2013 study) are use to receiving recommendations from their friends through online media. Since search engine updates are written around searcher’s behavior, it only makes sense that social would become a part of search. For now, Google has not confirmed that they are using any social indicators within their search results, but their direct foray into social media via Google+ shows that they are interested. And, SEO specialists need to listen.

It is, however, a fine line. In a struggle to keep ahead of the constant changes within search, SEO firms can have a tendency to move too quickly. While staying on top of search trends is important, the bones of search engine optimization have scarcely changed through the years. Solid, quality content and backlinks are still the best “juice” for search ranking. And, while social is important, and will most likely become a large factor in search, it cannot and should not become the only SEO strategy that your company uses.

Social metrics can be useful and valuable to companies as a method of gauging engagement. Social is also a great way to judge brand, but social metrics are easy to manipulate. Fake social profiles can be created by those who intend to do harm to your brand – and while it seems a bit over the top, it isn’t. Facebook had approximately 83 million fake or duplicate accounts in 2012 and researchers suggest that one-in-10 Twitter accounts are fake. Spammers can quickly generate thousands of likes on these sites creating a huge issue for search in regards to credibility and backlinks.

Additionally, Google does not have full access to spider external social platforms. Of course, they can spider their own Google+ site, but it has yet to reach universal adoption. Google+ has been widely accepted in SEO circles, mostly due to the social platform’s ability to create authorship and organize content, but typical internet users have been far less eager about using it. In fact, even Google+’s ranking as the fifth largest social media platform is subject to question since a Google+ profile is created with every Gmail account, yet many of these users fail to ever log into the social side of the program.