We worry a lot about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I suspect we don’t worry enough about Social Curation Optimization (hereby dubbed SCO). Social curation plays a large role in how people find content on the Web. Google’s Eric Schmidt was recently quoted as saying:
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter also allow users to leverage their social networks to find answers to their questions. Google is therefore competing with all methods available to access information on the Internet, not just other general search engines.
To focus on SEO and neglect SCO would be to neglect a huge source of traffic.
SEO tries to make our content attractive to machines. Machines still don’t think very much like us, so they can be deceived, and sometimes one has to dissemble to them to make them see truly. There is a lot of artifice in SEO.SCO tries to make our content attractive to human beings. Human beings think a lot like us, so they are harder to deceive. They like what they like and they value what they value. The only way to appeal to them is with actual quality. (Your idea of quality may differ from mine, but you will unerringly find what is quality to you, and I what is quality to me.) There is not much artifice in SCO, but a great deal of art and of craft.
The problem with spending time and energy on the artifice of SEO, is that it is time and energy not spent on the art and craft of content, and therefore time not spent on SCO.
SEO can worry about making sure content is easy to find without thinking at all about whether it is useful or entertaining once found. For SCO, the only thing worth worrying about is whether the content is useful or entertaining once found.
The social curation sphere is quite capable of plucking ingenue content from obscurity and making it a star. It is no wonder, then, that search engines use social curation in their weighting of content. SCO is good SEO.
Then there’s this: if your amazing SEO brings lots of people to your site, and they immediately leave because your content sucks, what have you gained? SEO can be complex to understand, and its techniques can be fleeting, as search engines adapt. SCO is simple to understand and eternal in its effect: make content people will like.