11/03/2011 | BlogPost

Reframing SEO as Social Engine Optimization

Antonio Grillo | former User Experience Manager


The SEO as we know it, is no longer enough to optimize the findability of information in today’s the Social media Era.
We therefore have to extend the concept of SEO further, to that of Social Engine Optimization

What’s a SEO?

I like to think of SEO as a way in which a website says, "Hello I’m here" to the web.

A new Website is like a new-born. It needs all the identifying details such as the name, the birth-date, the location; these could be compared to the website meta-tag definition.

What's SEO?

Who is the target of this communication? Search Engines of course. But Why?

Search Engines are the main actors of the search process from traditional SEO point of view.

But in today’s world of social media, can search engines still be considered the only one way to get information?

The Web is constantly evolving

The way to communicate and look for information on the web has been changed significantly by the evolution of user behaviours, which in turn have been influenced by the advent of social media.

Because of this, it is my opinion that we can no longer ignore the impact of the social context when talking about the "findability" of information, nor can we rely solely on the use of meta-tags in the hope that our information will be found.

SEO in today’s the social media Era.

Considering the Social Media scenario, there are new approaches to "hearing" what’s happening on the Net.

Fact 1:
Users love interactions. Sharing ideas, opinion, photos, videos, feelings, position, users could be considered as being monitored by a lot of sensors: the social tools (a.k.a. weapons of mass diffusion).

Users are "mapped" by Social Network provided by Hutch Carpenter

Fact 2:
Users love telling their personal stories through social tools, and this is now made even easier with the advent of mobile devices.

Always connected - Nielsen QI 2011 Mobile Connection Devices Report

Extending SEO including social dynamics

Users are "mapped" by Social Networks that work like sensors, able to transmit and measure every detail of their daily activities.

In this scenario, there is no longer a single search engine pushing information, but everyone connected to a social network works like an engine, spreading contents by using its social media sharing tools.

Information has now become a part of the social dynamics we express through the social identity we share on the web. This provides us with a new paradigm for learning, knowing, expressing, and finding the things we are interested in.

In this case social tools could be considered as "weapons of mass diffusion", with tremendous power in the social context, because of their ability to spread information faster and more easily.

This is great! But how does it work?

Step 1:

  • Of course content needs to be planned for social media use.
  • Content needs to be designed to “enable” social dynamics.
  • In other words: the content must be created in a "socialisable" way from the start.

Step 2:

  • It is no longer possible to rely exclusively on the analysis of user behaviour and motivation without also considering the social context.
  • In designing social dynamics, user experience (UX) plays a very important role, so we should begin to place UX closer to [SEO] (Extension of SEO as Social Engine Optimization) than ever before.

Social Engine Optimization and UX


So we have to extend the SEO concept as [SEO] - Social Engine Optimization, because: humans are wired to trust other humans — a concept known as social proof.

It is no longer possible, nor advisable, to ignore the social dynamics when we create content that we want people to find on the web.

  • SEO
  • Technology
  • Usability
  • User Experience (UX)
Antonio Grillo

Member of Social Communication Network Analysis and Knowledge Visualizazion research center (Salerno University), Antonio started his career at Uni in 1999, founding few years later his own company providing UX services for some of the most important market players.


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