Digg, Tweet & Like Your Way to SERP Heaven
Social Media Marketing (SMM) a tool for getting across the right information to your target audience through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, has truly arrived and is here to stay. Top search engines worldwide, like Google and Bing have already begun crawling for data from such social networking sites and are even using them for the final search ranking.
This was recently witnessed by the website SEOmoz.com, which not only got a huge surge in traffic after one of its posts “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” was tweeted by Smashing Magazine and then retweeted by followers, but it also reached among the top results (No. 2 in the 1st page as of today) in the Google search for the unusual term “beginner’s guide”. While the initial surge subsided after the first few days, the page nonetheless continues getting consistent traffic weeks after the initial tweet by a figure of authority such as Smashing Magazine.
The more number of times a particular page gets linked through the “Share” feature for various social websites, the higher the chances of a better search ranking. In fact, for the search engine Bing, the higher the number of “followers” or “friends” for a particular account or website on a social media site, the easier it is for the website to achieve a higher search ranking.
It is clear then that the importance of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter can no longer be ignored. SMO thus has to be a crucial component of your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Let’s take a look at how you can optimize your activities on websites like Facebook and Twitter to get the best search ranking.
• Stay Active
Having a presence on social media alone is not enough. You need to add meat to the bone of your online presence. This can only be done by staying active consistently, by posting or tweeting content, relevant images, and informative videos. You can also supplement this activity and stay active without too much effort by responding to comments, commenting on other relevant posts and pages, using the “Like” feature on Facebook, and retweeting. By investing a few minutes every day (as opposed to being online only once in a while) you can see really good, long-term results.
• Yes, Content Is Still the King
For an optimal search engine optimization strategy, content is still king. Ensure the content you publish is good quality content. While posting often is good, ensure you don’t lose grip on the type and relevance of your content. If the content is interesting and informative, the hits will appear. For example, the Travel Channel has managed to make the most of their Facebook profile by asking readers who enrol as “Fans” to share their Facebook-related travel stories. Needless to say, the content is interesting, unique, and highly relevant to the readers themselves.
You also need to ensure your content is free from plagiarism, is 100% original, and does not violate any copyright laws. In addition, your posts need to reflect an optimal density of keywords related to your business for search engines to take note of your website. Make sure your tweets or posts consistently talk about your business and do not lose focus, subject-wise. Examples of the type of content you post could be updates from your business, changes on your website, offers, deals etc. This will increase your brand value as well.
• Long-Term Content
A way of ensuring consistent, long-term top ranks is to have posts that are popular for long stretches of time. While having blockbuster posts and tweets that are popular briefly but intensely, i.e., immensely popular for a short time is great, it’s the posts that continue getting hits for weeks (even if the hits are fewer than the “blockbuster” short-term posts) that actually strengthen page rank. A way of ensuring this is to revisit, tweak, and update popular content regularly and post it every now and then for long-term benefit.
For example, for a health and fitness website’s posts related to healthy weight loss and good dietary habits can be created and published regularly since these topics are a universal concern.
• The More (Followers) the Merrier
Search engines like Google and Bing take serious note of a website faster not only if the number of people following it is high, but also if the same people following it themselves have a huge following. Thus, when you share links across your long list of “friends” on Facebook, and they themselves have a huge set of friends, then the search engines will give far greater weightage to the link. To get the benefit of this search engine strategy, make sure you have at least a few friends in your list who themselves are trend-setters and opinion makers, and have a huge following.
• Popularity and Interactivity
A measure of popularity for any website or post is the number of times it is retweeted or “Liked”. Retweets can greatly increase the search rank of a page. This works because search engines typically view a post or tweet linked again and again as significant enough for a higher rank. Interactive responses such as retweets on Twitter and “Like” labels on Facebook rely completely on the quality of the content to become popular, which is noted by the search engines. Also, once again, the popularity of the individuals themselves retweeting also helps get a better rank.
It can also happen that a URL posted by a business itself counts for less than the same URL posted by people from other than the business itself. The greater aspect is the popularity of these very people posting, tweeting, or retweeting a link. For that reason, many businesses get popular stars to “endorse” their products on these social networking sites. Not only does this directly help sales, but it also affects the search ranking of their websites. For example, when Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen recently endorsed and tweeted for the website Internships.com, the first tweet generated over 95,000 clicks in the first one hour itself. In the next 48 hours, it generated over 400,000 clicks with responses from 181 nations around the world!
A variant of popularity is the weightage given to “reputed” opinion-makers and authoritative figures. Tweets by well-known journalists and public figures, for example, stand to hold higher weightage for search ranks. For example, on the Bing Social Search or the Google real time Search, posts and tweets from these opinion-makers will move to the top of search results.
• SMO: Side-Benefits
A good social media optimization strategy has other benefits too. Not only does it guarantee more hits on your website’s pages and more publicity and sales, but it also takes you closer to your target audience. By maintaining an active and creative online profile for your business, you also invite users and your audience to share feedback and other important information. For any business, this type of highly specific data can be a rich resource.
Plus, by getting closer to your actual users through these social networking websites, you can ensure greater interest and customer loyalty through continued and quality interaction. You can also share with your audience and users the business’s plans for the future, invite recommendations and input, and solidify the customer relationship. This continual interaction can be extremely rewarding for any business.
The Road Ahead for Social Media Optimization…
As you’ve seen, a carefully created social media optimization strategy needs to give the necessary importance to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter if they want to get ahead in the race to get good rankings, increased exposure, brand building and improved traffic. Fortunately, social media marketing through Facebook and Twitter is not very difficult and can, in fact, be a lot of fun. As more and more people across the world begin sharing information, queries, and updates through these social networking websites, the importance for businesses to be active and SEO savvy on these social networking sites in the correct way cannot be stated strongly enough.