Social media has many business uses – marketing, customer management, and public relations to name a few. Now you can add search engine optimization (SEO) to that growing list. In addition to using social media to increase your customer base, provide customer service, and enhance brand visibility, it is now vital to include it in your SEO strategy.
When you consider that a major purpose of SEO is to build your brand to attract customers, it becomes a bit more obvious how social media can help with brand recognition efforts. You should be integrating SEO in just about everything you do online that is associated with your business. So, if you use social media to communicate with customers, then those communications should also be appropriately optimized.
As social media becomes more prominent in online marketing activities, you will need to think more strategically about how to incorporate SEO. Following are some preliminary ideas of how you can effectively use social marketing to leverage your SEO.
1. Join Appropriate Social Networks
This is important – join the social networks that will actually benefit you and your business. It takes time to manage social marketing initiative. Too many can dilute your efforts. And bigger is not necessarily better. Facebook is by far the largest social network – but that does not automatically translate into being the best source of convertible traffic for your site. Traffic quality is much more important than volume. Check out the myriad social media options at your disposable to see which ones are most suitable for your business as well as your SEO. From an SEO perspective, consider those that can be indexed by search engines including one of the most recent additions, Google+. Once you have made your selections, if don’t already have one, you will need to register for an account.
2. Optimize Social Profiles
When creating your social network profile, write using elements of SEO such as keywords. Even if a particular network is not indexed by search engines at the present time, develop your profile with the assumption that one day that may be possible like it is with other networks. Many businesses join LinkedIn which is a network for professionals. Twitter and Facebook are equally popular with businesses. Google+ rounds out the top four in terms of market share. Profiles on these sites can be included on search engine results pages (SERPs) so be sure to optimize content accordingly. Add keywords and a professional photo to your profile. Include your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) so viewers can clearly see why you stand out among the competition.
3. Create a Blog
A blog is one of the best ways you can use social media for SEO. Blogs are directly tied to your website and you post original content on a regular basis to engage customers, attract traffic, and generally market your products and services. You have the opportunity to optimize nearly everything on blog entries including headings, content, and images. Blog postings are included on SERPs. You can use other social media to support your blog by allowing readers to “like” or “follow” your postings. These links are valuable for your SEO strategy. One of the reasons blogs are so popular is because they provide an easy way to offer fresh content to your customers. And customers can respond to your content which allows you to further engage with them.
4. Include Keywords in Posts and Tweets
A typical way to optimize posts as well as tweets is to naturally incorporate keywords into them. Twitter restricts tweets to 140 characters so be careful how you use keywords – they need to make sense and not seem spammy. When you use a hash tag with your keyword, you increase your chances of getting your tweet included on SERPs. Post titles and headlines should also contain a keyword. If you include a description of your posting, that is yet one more place you can add a keyword for maximum optimization. All posts and tweets should contain information that will be seen as valuable by followers. Focus on deals, tips, and credible news to keep followers interested.
5. Construct Content with Elements of SEO
Just like your other SEO, avoid duplicate content. Use keywords at no more than around 2-4% density so they appear natural in your content. If even that looks forced, remove a few. Provide fresh content on a regular basis. Don’t over-publish because this can hurt your efforts. Sending too much content via social media can result in your followers leaving you. And research shows that if a customer stops following you through social media, they also tend to take their business elsewhere. And if they recommended you to their own followers, they may un-recommend you which can have a quick trickle-down effect. You want to offer enough to keep them interested and no more.
6. Incorporate Links to Drive Traffic to Your Website
Any time you post a blog entry you can include links back to your site. This holds true if you are posting on Google+, your LinkedIn page, or even your Facebook page. You do this by providing a teaser that draws readers’ attention followed by a link that will take them directly to your own blog where they can read the full posting in its entirety. The more of these you do, the greater the potential you have for driving traffic to your site. Each time you include a link on Twitter, you are automatically creating backlinks to your site. The important thing is to use links naturally in your regular communications with customers.
7. Encourage People to Link to You
This does two things for you. First, you develop a follower base which becomes your pool of prospective customers. And when people link to you, their is a high probability they will forward your information to people on their own lists who may become followers as well. People who link to you can become your greatest advocates and promoters. More importantly, all of these links are organic so they have more value for SEO. Social media is the perfect platform to quickly build organic links to your site.
8. Share Content with Authority Sites
This is already proving crucial on Google+ where you can earn an Author Rank based on the quality and quantity of published content and your circle of connections. The more you have in your circles, the more credible you are because you offer relevant content to readers. And you will need to join circles as well to demonstrate you are actively involved in the Google+ community. Try to join circles of influential people and get them to join your circle. If you can get if one influential authority figure to share your content with their followers, you have accomplished a major achievement. This can significantly increase your credibility and improve your online reputation.
9. Build Brand and Manage Reputation
Your brand and reputation help you become a high-trust domain which is critical for SEO. Having a social media presence can build brand visibility and recognition with customers and search engines. One of the reasons you want followers is to build your brand so that you become an authority in your own right. Search engines rank authority sites higher on SERPs so it is well worth your time to be social. You can also manage your reputation through social media. See what your followers (as well as non-followers) are saying about you. If you are being portrayed inaccurately, you can quickly jump into damage control mode to address complaints or misconceptions.
10. Ascertain Success Using Performance Measures
Like any quality SEO tactic, you can measure the success of most social media thanks to various social analytics that are available to you. Clearly you can see how many followers you have. But you can also determine where your followers are coming from, which of your posts or tweets get the most response, and which of your content is being forwarded to other people. You can use this information to make modifications including re-optimizing your current content.
Realizing that a significant amount of time (nearly 25% in the U.S.) users spend online is now being spent on social networking sites, you simply cannot go wrong using social media to enhance your SEO strategy. Social media is the leading activity conducted online. YouTube is credited with being the second largest search engine. Approximately 50 million tweets are produced every single day. About 25% of senior citizens are members of at least social networking site. More people visit Facebook in a given week than use Google.
Taken as a whole, it is clear that social media is here to stay. And it is quickly becoming the way to drive traffic to your website. But the primary purpose of social media SEO is to build your brand and establish yourself as an authority in your particular niche. Continue to use it for this reason, including elements of SEO where appropriate, and you have marketing platform that reaches customers and search engines. And you can use social media for both your short-term and long-term SEO strategies.