Guest post by Eric Gordon
Businesses that are eager to improve their rankings using search engine optimization (SEO) would be wise to employ social media as a significant tool in doing so. After all, the leading social media sites are a huge presence on the Internet and are viewed by millions of people every day.
Experts are increasingly in agreement that social media can be meaningfully employed in this way. This approach has not always been the case.
Three years ago, the head of the Google web spam team, Matt Cutts produced a video arguing that “likes” on Facebook and Twitter followers cannot play a role in boosting your presence on search engine listings. He believed that comments and relationships on social media change so regularly that they can become out of date moments after Google had crawled the site.
Since then, however, Google has partnered with Twitter, providing it with direct access to the social site. In addition, others have argued that social media and SEO are indeed linked and can be used to boost each other. Shortly after the release of Cutts’ video, marketing expert Neil Patel went so far as to say that social media could be a new form of SEO.
Here’s a look at ways you can optimize your use of social media to boost your brand’s online visibility and thereby, your SEO and sales.
Ensure your social media profile attracts attention.
Brand profiles on social media show up on the leading search engine listings in a similar way to websites. It follows that your social media pages should, in some ways, resemble a website.
When developing your Facebook profile page, for example, a significant step toward visibility is to create a URL that includes the name of your company in a similar way that a website does. Keywords and current information should also be incorporated in the way they are included on a website.
But in other ways, a Facebook page should be different than a website, in particular by reflecting the more personal and chatty nature of social media. Similarly, your Twitter account should include hashtags likely to be used by those interested in researching your products or services.
In all cases, pepper your social media pages with keywords directed at attracting search engines, whether it be in text, summaries, biographies, listings, or other features.
Use your social media presence as a link to other sites.
In addition to attracting users to your social media pages, you might want to use those pages as a channel to your presence in other places on the Internet, thereby bolstering your search engine visibility.
You might include a reference on a Facebook post, for example, that directs a reader to a blog or an article on your website for more information. Links to ebooks or presentations are another way to expand your reach. Think of these links as bait on the end of a fishing line that hooks your readers and takes them elsewhere.
Boost the number of your followers.
Another way to improve your search rankings is to increase the number of your followers on social media platforms. Doing so means that your content will be viewed by an increasingly extensive network of people.
Shy away from those who promise to raise the number of your followers simply to increase the count. It is vital that you aim to connect with users who are interested in your brand and with whom you can engage on a regular basis.
Ideally you should engage with your users daily, keeping them up to date on information regarding your brand. Your message should be consistent and reflect your brand, its culture and identity.
Cultivate your followers’ engagement with your pages.
If you can spread your message across all parts of the Internet, you will have a greater chance to gain visibility and, in that way, the process of having your content indexed by the search engines will be enhanced. The greater your brand’s presence in social media and generally across the Internet, the greater your chances of appearing in higher places on the search engines and within the social media.
It takes time for the search engines to crawl your sites and to index their contents. But the greater your presence on the web, the faster the search engine bots will do so. For example, if your new content is re-tweeted many times, the bots will take less time to index that page.
It goes without saying that your content should be of value and top quality. Encourage discussion by identifying with the needs of your users. What questions do they have that you can answer? What provocative points can you raise to pique their interest?
Enrich your social media posts.
Your posts should include items that will encourage search engines to crawl your pages. You cannot assume that they will do so automatically as that may not be allowed by some social networks.
- Ensure that your images — which are a vital attraction for your pages — are searchable by using alternative text. You should also use such aids, which are called semantic markups or tooltips, to describe the content of your graphics and icons clearly to the search engines.
- Research keywords and use them liberally and correctly in the text, headings, and hashtags.
- Encourage your readers to share your posts to increase their reach and rankings.
View social media as search engines.
Just as it is vital that you obtain a high search engine listing for those services and products you promote on your website, so should you aim at ranking high when people search for your brand using social media.
They might discover you on Twitter after using the site’s search engine to find your products or services, or they might search for your brand on Facebook. It is imperative, therefore, that you bear SEO in mind when you create your social media presence.
Using these means of enhancing your visibility on social pages will boost your brand, not only in social media, but also on the Internet generally. As a whole, they can become an important engine in your drive to establish a significant presence on the web and, as a result, to increase your revenue.
Eric Gordon is a business-focused marketing professional based in Houston. His mission in life is to help his clients get quality and consistent leads using the latest online marketing and SEO strategies. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and watching sports. Follow him on Twitter @ericdavidgordon