Hey there, .CO friends! Welcome back to our SEO in a Week blog post series! Here at .CO, we are all about SEO, which is why we’ve created a slew of blog posts chock-full of actionable advice to help you be your SEO best. If you’re just now stopping by, make sure to take a look at our previous posts on keyword research and content, On Site SEO, SEO-friendly design and development and link building.
Today’s topic is a fun one—socializing! We’re going to talk about the importance of social media in SEO and how you can build a solid social media strategy that’s just right for you. Ready to socialize? Let’s go!
The Evolution of Social Media
Remember the days of Friendster and MySpace? Social media sure has grown up over the past few years. Like it or not, social media is here to stay, and people of all ages across the globe share their lives across channels like Facebook and Twitter…not to mention Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube and Yelp.
When it comes to SEO, social signals have become increasingly important to long-term success. With personalized search engine results, searchers now see results from their network appear before other search results—i.e., Google plus results, YouTube videos and Tweets. It has been proven that Google Plus can improve how often Google crawls a website, and, as always, search engines love fresh content and mentions, so in a nutshell—ya gotta get social!
If you’re a business owner and the thought of coming up with a ton of social media strategies overwhelms you, take a deep breath and regroup. Come up with a basic plan to become more active across all networks, then consider getting more in-depth with a particular social network where it makes sense.
For example, are you a travel, design, fashion, cooking or other related site? Is your search base comprised mostly of women? Turn your focus to Pinterest, which is a highly visual virtual pinboard of sorts whose user base is mostly women. Is your site heavy on content and updated often? Focus more on Twitter. Own a local business? Become active on Google Plus and Yelp.
Also, there are several great tools out there to streamline your social media activity and make it less time consuming. See our Tools section at the end of this post for more info.
Major Social Media Sites & Strategies
- Facebook-One of the most popular social networking websites. For personal use, is used to stay connected with friends through status updates, messaging and chat. Businesses can create their own Facebook Pages, gain followers and “likes”, and also advertise.
Strategically: A great way to interact with your customers, post contests, and let people know about new content updates, site changes, and promotions. Coordinate your efforts across Twitter and other platforms. Post not just about your site, but other interesting tidbits from across the web. Interact with your customers.
- Twitter-A social networking site that can be described as a mini-blogging platform. Users post “Tweets” which have to be fewer than 140 characters. Tweets can status updates, links to sites, and ongoing conversations of sorts. Hashtags are used—always followed by the # symbol—and the aggregation of those topics add up to “trending topics”. Users interact with other users in their Tweets and followers by adding the @ symbol followed by the user name.
Strategically: Twitter is a great way to get involved in your industry’s community, interact with customers, post content updates to your blog and site, and run contests. Don’t just keep Tweeting about your own sites, become active by linking to other interesting sites and following and retweeting other users’ interesting Tweets. Link back to your Tweets.
- Pinterest-A virtual pinboard site that allows users to “pin” links they find interesting to different pinboards they create–for example, users post recipes to a recipe board, etc. etc. Pinterest has become increasingly popular, especially for women.
Strategically: Parenting, cooking, design, travel, fashion, home improvement sites do exceptionally well on Pinterest. Visual content does really well, such as photos and infographics. Create a branded account and post lots of visual content from your site and other sites you love and admire. Search for related topics and follow users that post interesting content around those topics.
- Google Plus-A social platform that comprised of features including streams, circles, hangouts and messenger. Friends are organized into “circles” which users organize by labels such as friends, colleagues, etc. Streams are comprised of posts that include links that a user finds interesting. Hangouts are similar to Skyping—several users set up a virtual chatroom and conduct chats, webinars and meetings.
Strategically: Google+ Pages are a way for businesses to post about their business—including key information such as hours and location—and interact with customers. Make your strategy similar to your Facebook strategy, and most of all, just don’t forget about it and stay active…Google+ activity has been shown to boost Google crawl rates.
- Instagram-A photo-sharing platform which allows users to take pictures, edit them visually, post them across additional platforms like Facebook and Twitter, apply hashtags to them, and interact with their followers and friends. Users can search topics by hashtags, similar to Twitter.
Strategically: Works best with visually-based sites. Become active, gain followers, follow users you admire and interact with them, and consider running contests. For instance, ask followers to post relevant photos with corresponding hashtags and business name, and pick a photo for the prize winner.
- YouTube-Extremely popular video sharing site. While many videos are user-generated and uploaded by users, many brands and media sites create channels and upload videos as well. Users can save videos they like and organize them, follow users, and post videos across platforms such as Facebook.
Strategically: A clever, compelling, often humorous video, can go viral and achieve massive success for a brand. Consider creating a channel and posting your own videos and other interesting videos you like. For more tips, check out this brief article on SEO and YouTube.
- Yelp-A reviews website that focuses on local business such as restaurants, bars, stores, salons and much more. Users rate businesses and submit their reviews. Users can follow their friends and other users they find interesting.
Strategically: Works well for local businesses. Run Yelp check-in deals and promotions, become active, respond to reviewers, and use it as an effective customer service platform.
- LinkedIn-A social networking and job posting site for professionals. Users can post their professional profile—a condensed work history—endorse and review colleagues, search for and post jobs, post links, and add connections. Recruiters often post jobs and reach out directly to users whose profiles appear in results for industry topic searches. LinkedIn groups are a popular way to chat about topics within an industry.
Strategically: LinkedIn works best for industries such as technology and marketing. Use it as a personal online reputation tool as well. Increase your network by adding colleagues—past and present—to keep in touch and network about opportunities. If you are a technology or marketing site or blog, post status updates often.
- MySpace-One of the first popular social networking sites, MySpace’s popularity has sharply declined since Facebook and Twitter. Now its emphasis is mostly on music, and is a successful way for artists to gain exposure.
Strategically: MySpace is really only effective for entertainers such as musicians, photographers, DJs and comedians. However, if you own a local entertainment or photography business—such as a DJing business—definitely become active on MySpace by gaining friends, posting your content often, and updating your page with all local events.
- Reddit-A social news site where users post links, ideas or pictures and can vote them up or down, which determines the rank of that post. The Reddit user base is primarily young, tech savvy, liberal, cynical and has a dark sense of humor.
Strategically: Since Reddit is so niche, only consider devoting focus to it if you think your content would be valuable to the community. Check out the site and get a feel for the community. For an in-depth and detailed guide on Reddit and SEO, check out this article.
- Digg-A social news site that allows users to vote stories up or down by either “digging” them or “burying” them. Digg was once massively popular, but its user base has drastically decreased over the years due to sites like Reddit and Twitter.
Strategically: Unless your site is a news, magazine, or tech-heavy blog, devoting time to Digg is probably not worth it. Sometimes, it can do more damage than good, so unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s most likely best to focus your efforts elsewhere.
Basic Action Plan
- Register for and create a page for the major sites you want to focus on
- Add content buttons to your product, blog and content pages
- Blog and produce great content often
- Participate in the community and spread good “social karma” to peers and customers
- Use social media sites as an effective customer service platform where applicable
- Get creative with your content ideas by turning to industry influencers for inspiration
Never Stop Growing
Never stop networking! Engage, engage, engage—through your content, interactions with your customer base, and building your network. Think of a social marketing strategy as bigger than just social—it contributes to your holistic branding, online reputation and marketing strategy as well. So, don’t ignore it!
Remember to check your analytics data to see what’s working. Check out your referrals to see what sites are bringing you traffic, and what destination pages on your site are working best.
There are several helpful tools out there to help streamline and organize your social media efforts. While there are a ton available, the following three are easy to use and are great time-savers.
Did you know that you can get a free SEO consultation for your website, chock full of customized advice—including social media marketing strategies—just by becoming a .CO member? Join our membership program to gain access to all kind of great perks, including an hour-long SEO Consultation with yours truly.
We hope we’ve provided you with a valuable social media marketing primer for you. At .CO, we love SEO, which is why we continue to provide you with SEO tips to be your best!
Now, go get social! And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to keep up with all kinds of breaking news.