In just a couple of years, social media marketing has undergone some big changes, all of which are relevant to online marketing. So, just what’s different about social media marketing in 2011 than in 2009? Here are five of the biggest factors:

1. The growth of social media buttons. In the old days of the internet, it was a lot harder to get backlinks.

But no more: “No longer does a visitor have to have a blog where they copy and paste your URL over to a post on their site to give you a link,” writes Jamie Faidley. “Now … if someone thinks what you are posting is interesting all they have to do is push a button to send out a tweet or a status update with your link.”

It’s true: Social media buttons have greatly simplified the way social media marketing helps your SEO efforts. These buttons existed in 2009, too, but not nearly in the capacity they do in 2011. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any blog or article today that doesn’t include the full range of social media marketing buttons, from Facebook and Twitter to Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

2. A lot more tweets (and tweeps). In late 2009, it was announced that Google and Bing would begin indexing Twitter content. Instantly, the SEO community became much more focused on the art of Tweeting.

And that may help explain the wild growth of Twitter, as well as its growing transition from a casual social tool to an out-and-out news and marketing source. Twitter’s always grown quickly, but in the past year, “the average number of tweets per day has nearly tripled from 50 million to 140 million,” wrote Catharine Smith four months ago.

3. Google indexes Facebook. It was talked about as long ago as 2007, but it really happened in 2010: Facebook pages became searchable via Google. And, in a real sign of the times, Google made the announcement via a tweet. That means your site’s Facebook page has a lot more power to generate SEO juice, something that wasn’t the case in ’09.

4. The rise of Google Plus. Sure, Google+ is new, but estimates are already putting it at around 20 million users. That automatically makes it a formidable SEO presence.

And for SEO based on Google algorithms, you can bet that Google’s own social media marketing platform is gonna rock the rankings. It’s also likely to continue growing, although maybe a bit slower than in its first few weeks. (Some blame the invite-only feature for the recent slight slowdown.)

5. The social media marketing “expert”. One of the biggest results of the social media marketing craze is that, like SEO, an entire profession of social media marketing “experts” has arisen to offer businesses of all shapes and sizes their expertise.

Is that a good thing? It’s hard to say — but many don’t think so. After all, the more sites like twitter and Facebook are gummed up by professional marketers, the less “real” messaging they have. And the value from these pros isn’t always apparent.‘s Mikal E. Belicove sums it up extremely well:

“Nobody knows your business like the people who work inside your building. You can certainly work with an agency to set up and implement your social media-related efforts or to propose ideas for contests and the like. But when it comes to communicating your messages on a daily basis, your people are in the best position to keep your community of customers and prospects up to date and informed about what really matters to them.”

Learn more about how SEO and social media connect with’s free live webinar on August 2, 2011. Register here.

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