SEO Goes Social, Part 4: Tips to Start Optimizing Your Social Pages
To most observers, search engine optimization (SEO) best practices are primarily focused on boosting the search rankings of your corporate website. While this remains true to a large extent, the increasing reliance of businesses on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter means tweaking your SEO capacity is no longer limited to everything within your URL or domain. SEO efforts must now include social media as well.
As we’ve seen with our earlier look at the SEO/social connection – SEO gets Social. Are You Ready? – even if your company hasn’t adopted social media, your customers are already using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other tools to have conversations about your brand and may even be trying to find you there. If they are looking and you’re not there, your competition likely is, so now is the time to get visible. Getting seen on social channels can be achieved by applying the same SEO-friendly brush to your social media efforts that you’ve been applying to your website.
Here are some tips to get started:
Treat your corporate website as an integral strategic component. Many companies with existing web presences often mistakenly shift all their online marketing eggs into social platforms, allowing their existing web resources to wither in the process. Instead, use expanded social activity to drive greater awareness of deeper content on the corporate website. Build up on what you’ve already built instead of pursuing social to the exclusion of all else.
Lead with social if you’re a startup. If you don’t have enough time or budget to make a big online bang before launch, focus your efforts on creating lots of noise in the social space first. While you can easily build a basic website to serve as a starting or reference point, you’ll generate more awareness – offline and among search engines online – by cultivating a large social media-based fan following first.
Prominently embed social streams. Including streams of your most recent Facebook, Twitter and Google+ activity on your website can have a positive impact on your site’s search engine ranking. It can also drive traffic back to your social properties, creating even greater cross-platform engagement. Widgets to automate the process of building and laying out social feeds on your website are widely available. To raise engagement – and SEO potential – even higher, add “like us on Facebook” or “follow us on Twitter” buttons to your website.
Avoid selling in the social space. People use social media to connect with each other and to build community. They don’t want to be sold to here, and will begin to shy away if the space feels overly commercialized. Reserve marketing-related messages for the corporate web presence. Use social streams instead to have conversations with your company’s community – even if it has nothing to do with the products or services you sell. This encourages interaction, which drives SEO performance.
Let your users control the conversation. Traditional websites tend to limit who says what and where. Organizations like to control every last detail within their web domains. The rules are absolutely different in the social space, where users should be encouraged to drive discussion. Have staff on hand to respond and provide one-to-one guidance and assistance wherever possible – but resist the urge to shut down discussions if they don’t reflect precisely what you had hoped. What does this have to do with SEO? Everything. A vibrant, interactive social-based discussion is hugely attractive to search engines.
Build a blog. Adding a blog to your website – and integrating it into existing social streams – encourages fans to contribute wherever and however they feel most comfortable. It can significantly elevate traffic levels and drive engagement – all of which helps search engine visibility.
Choose your names carefully. You’ll obviously use your company name for your Facebook page, but if you’re late to the game, it may no longer be available on Facebook and you may need to either choose an alternate or, ideally, negotiate with the current owner. Once you’ve selected a name, stick with it, as Facebook only allows page names to be changed if they have fewer than 100 fans – and even then, you can only do so once.
The bottom line.
While SEO principles are good to keep in mind when creating content for your social channels, don’t lose sight of the real power of social media – creating effective two-way engagement with your customers and peers. As the capabilities of the most popular platforms continue to evolve, we’ll share additional tips for getting the most out of each of them.
What social media and SEO challenges are you facing? Let us know in the comments section below.