For most SEO managers, the focus of search engine optimization is using relevant keywords, building up a network of quality backlinks, and staying away from the growing number of black hat practices. While the traditional methods are still essential for creating visibility and driving traffic, more evidence is mounting to show that social media has a strong influence on search. A recent study conducted by SEOmoz revealed that social links, particularly Facebook shares, strongly correlate to high search engine rankings.

The research efforts of SEOmoz and other firms have provided great insight into the importance of Facebook shares to search. SEO managers and social media marketers would both be wise to keep the following in mind when devising their strategies.

Shares Trump Likes

The Like button has become one of the most powerful features connected to the Facebook platform, offering a way for brands to extend their reach to the new levels. Having said that, research has indicated that shares are better for both search visibility and user engagement. Sharing is so powerful because in many cases, it is essentially creating links that lead back to your site. This is why from blog posts and product descriptions to email newsletters and beyond, you should make it a priority to ensure that your content can be easily shared through Facebook.

Quality of Content is Key

Having a large fan base on Facebook is great, but that doesn’t mean your updates will reach all of them. In fact, unless you invest in one of the company’s premium advertising solutions, you will barely even reach a third of them. Earlier this year, Facebook let it be known that on average, a post made from a brand page only reaches roughly 16% of its fans, which is the work of the company’s news feed algorithm Edgerank. For this reason, businesses who want to increase their visibility will need to take initiative to make sure their content screams “share me”as engagement appears to be a factor Facebook looks at. Obviously, the quality of your content is critical here.

Social Influence Will Increase

Internet experts have been talking about the inevitable marriage of search and social for what seems like an eternity. Well we are finally starting to see forges of a relationship. Both Google and Bing have both incorporated strong social elements in their products, while social networks like Facebook and Twitter are trying to improve the visibility of content on their platforms through search. As this relationship progresses, the influence of Facebook shares and other social activity will continue to grow in power.

At one time, there was a lot of talk about how the emergence of social would lead to the death of web search. How silly that was. Now most of the discussions center on how these two are being further integrated. One thing’s for certain – their continuous merger means more visibility and opportunities for savvy marketers.

Guest Post By: Abel is a writer, online marketing expert, and advocate for email marketing software company, Benchmark Email.