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In the past, digital marketing was all about “eyeballs,” making your website “sticky,” and drawing tons of traffic to your site. In today’s real-time, two-way distributed digital media environment, the notion of getting people in your front door and keeping them there is as dead as Dillinger.

The fact remains, however, that if you’re engaging in ecommerce you still need to attract users to your site and turn them into customers. So how do we do it?

It may seem illogical, but pushing your content–or rather, links to your content–out to as many sources as possible is the answer. Backlinking is one of the most fundamental components of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and now thanks to social media it can be one of the easiest.

Backlinking is, quite simply, putting descriptive links back to your website from somewhere else on the web. One heavily weighed factor in search is the quality of backlinks, meaning (among other things) that the site where the backlinks reside should be relevant, and the link should resolve on a relevant page on your site.

While there are still online directories, the link farming days of the past are long gone. Now, however, with so much emphasis on the social sharing of content it is possible to sow the seeds of your own link farm all over the fertile grounds of the web.

The Social Media Effect

The Social Media Effect - click to enlarge

The smart folks at Social Reflexion created the infographic illustrating “The Social Media Effect” shown here in this post. Although it’s now dated due to the inclusion of Digg, the process and concept are still relevant.

The infographic shows the flow from initial content creation through Twitter and Facebook sharing to other blogs responding to your topic. Each of these steps along the path creates a link back to the original piece of content–yours.

Given that search engines index Twitter and Facebook, as well as the rest of the web, when shared properly and extensively your content unit has the potential not only to reach millions of potential visitors via the shared links but also to climb in search ranking. As Google, Bing, and other search engines index the web, they take into account the number of links back to a site or piece of content. If these links are reputable, your page’s ranking will increase.

If one major blog like Salon, The Huffington Post or Social Media Today (just to name a few) publishes a piece based on your content and includes a link, your ranking will climb even further. Your content is essentially being vetted for search engines by humans.

What this all means is that it’s absolutely essential to proactively share links to your content via social networking sites and platforms. The more interesting, relevant and valuable the content, the more likely it is to be shared by others, each with their own extent of reach and influence. The more quality backlinks that are created via these means, the more valuable your content will be in search.

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