By Robert Dempsey, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Internet marketing as we once knew it is dead. Gone are the days when a sales page was enough of a relationship to sell a product. Gone are the days when claims of riches tugged enough at the emotions to persuade a sale. Gone are the days when bloated claims could pass as truth and lies went unpunished. Now is the time of social SEO. And this time has already begun. Are you ready for it? Let’s find out.

The Web Has Always Been Social

From the time the Internet was called the World Wide Web people have been using it to send communications back and forth. There was Arpanet (1969), bulletin board services aka BBS (1978), Usenet (1980) and then the email system Listserve (1986). The Internet was created as a communication medium not only between computers but between the users of those computers – us. And since those early days we’ve been trying to connect with each other more and more.

Then Came SEO

With advances in computing technology came the ability to create and post web pages. As more and more people connected to the Internet the need arose to help people find those websites. You may remember getting in your (physical) inbox an AOL cd, or perhaps 10-20 of them. AOL provided a human-filtered gateway to the Internet. Then came Yahoo! and other search engines and web portals. It was during the mid-1990s that search engine optimization came about.

In the beginning people used to try all sorts of things to get their sites to rank higher – stuffing keywords into a page, hiding keywords using white text on a white background, buying links and more. Today these other assorted tactics will get you banned from Google or at the very least ensure that you never show up in the search results. Then in the late 1990s the next shift came about.

Blogging Hits The Social Scene

What began as a way to tell the rest of the world about what was going on in yours, blogging turned into an SEOs happiest dream. Now it was easy to create a metric ton of pages all optimized for search. But unlike static sites people could comment on blogs. No longer the domain of chat channels, instant messenger and walled gardens, websites became a two-way communication channel. In 1998 Open Diary was the first website where readers could add comments to someone’s blog entry.

And the web was forever changed.

And Then Social Media Hit The Fan

Fast forward to early 2000. Social media came into it’s own and really started to take off. Here’s a brief timeline with a few you may recognize:

  • 2002 – Friendster
  • 2003 – Myspace
  • 2003 – LinkedIn
  • 2004 – Facebook
  • 2006 – Twitter
  • 2011 – Google+

For a time SEO and social media were separate. As I alluded to in the introduction, that time is over.

The Rise Of Social SEO

Social SEO is the combination of social media and search engine optimization. The term itself is an acknowledgment that the two are no longer separate. In a recent post of mine – Google Proves Not Being On Social Media Will Kill Your SEO - I discuss the changes already in progress at Google. In a recent video with Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson of Google mention in a rather off-handed way that Google is working to incorporate social signals into search engine rankings. This isn’t anything new. Google has been personalizing search results for quite some time. Now it’s going to an entirely new level.

In today’s world of social SEO you must be publishing content that is optimized for the search engines AND is shared within social networks such as Twitter and Google+.  In Google’s eyes which already measure authority using somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 factors, social shares from others are another indication that you know what you’re talking about. In addition, they are now supporting the rel=“author” and rel=“me” tags which allow you to indicate if a piece of content is authored or about you.

Already in progress, the content you create everywhere is being linked to directly to you. In addition, people’s reactions to that content is also being measured and noted. It has been said that every person is a content producer. Now every person is an authority, or can be.

This is where the death of traditional Internet Marketing comes into play.

The Fall Of Internet Marketing

When I say “traditional Internet Marketing” what I’m talking about is a certain set of tactics used to sell products online, specifically:

  • Sales pages with big red headlines that insult our intelligence
  • Outrageous claims of instant or close-to-instant riches with very little work
  • Hard-sell sales tactics
  • Ups-ellathons mixed in with cross-sell-athons
  • A bombardment of swiped affiliate emails that are impersonal and arrive by the dozens

On the social web it takes more than well crafted paragraphs to create enough trust and authority to make a sale. Now I’m not hailing the death of e-commerce, far from it. But the way products and services are sold online by non-e-commerce businesses has changed. A relationship built on trust and authority is now what makes the sale.

Embrace The Change

15 years ago businesses were told they needed a website. Many didn’t listen.

10 years ago businesses were told they needed to use SEO. Many didn’t listen.

5 years ago businesses were told they needed to blog. Many didn’t listen.

2 years ago businesses were told they needed to be on social media. Many didn’t listen.

But many did.

The companies that blog, that use SEO, that use social media continue to thrive despite uncertain economies. The businesses that embraced stronger relationships with their customers continue to thrive. The businesses that acknowledge the upward trend of social seo will be the companies that continue into the future.

Will yours be one?

Robert Dempsey specializes in direct response social media and blogs at http://DempseyMarketing.com/journal/.

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