As always, the world of SEO and social media is in a state of constant change. One of the biggest changes announced recently is that Facebook could be (and probably is) developing its own search engine. This, along with Google’s new bad-link warnings, are the two primary topics I discuss with TM Social Media Manager Michael L. Hoffman in this week’s SEO Web Talk Radio Show.

According to a report in Businessweek last week, Facebook is in the process of creating a search engine to rival Google. Michael believes that because Google is already so synonymous with search it will be nearly impossible to completely knock it off its high horse. But he also thinks Facebook could do some damage where Google is lacking, which is in two primary areas: local search and social search. Facebook does one of these things (social) better than any other social network and if it can combine its work with search, it could really draw some traffic from Google.

We believe that a Facebook search engine wouldn’t do much for big brands, they’re already too well-established. But it could do wonders for local businesses. If someone is looking for a coffee shop and searches “Detroit coffee shop” in Google, they will get decent results. But with a Facebook search engine they would be getting real socially recommended results. Their friends’ “Likes,” check ins and shares are all going to come into play, giving users the results they really want. This also reinforces what Michael and I have been preaching for months now: Engage! Engage! Engage! If you wait too long to get social media integrated into your business plan, you’ll be playing catch up for a long time before it becomes effective. The more active and engaging you are in social media, and the sooner you do it, the better.

Speaking of being active on the Web, have you been hit with a bad-link warning in Google Webmaster Tools lately? In its forever-long quest to perfect the art of search, Google has now started sending out warnings to webmasters when it suspects suspicious link activity. According to Search Engine Land, this “isn’t a fresh crackdown on link networks but rather a change from bad links being ‘silently distrusted’ to being more vocal about this type of penalty.” And now that Google is openly penalizing websites with “unnatural” links, it’s absolutely imperative that you monitor your backlinks to ensure that they are genuine. Majestic SEO is one of the best tools online for this.

I always say, “My lord is links,” because the value of a solid, well-maintained link network cannot be understated. It’s crucial not only in bringing other users to your site, but in getting more engagement from readers, users, etc. What do you think of Google’s new link penalty? Has your site’s ranking suffered because of poor links?

And don’t forget to listen to this week’s podcast for more information about these topics as well as a preview of our new social media series “4.5 Tips About …”!

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