All social media accounts are created equal. But over time, not all are counted as equals — by search engines, that is. Establishing social media accounts and posting lackluster content is a surefire way to spend hours of your day not getting noticed.
Social media is to getting shared as SEO is to being found. They’re interconnected. And both can help get your name out to a wider audience.
Instead of offering “3 Ways,” “7 Tips,” “10 Steps,” and so on to optimize your social media for search, it all boils down to one thing: C.R.A.P. — Creating Really Awesome Posts. Obviously, not every post will start celebrity sex tape-like buzz, but there are a few simple practices that will make your social channels search-worthy:
Social media channels signal to search engines that your company is legitimate, relevant, credible, and trustworthy. In addition to your website, social media offers opportunities to rank for a given set of keywords. Start with the basics of making sure your social profiles and posts include keyword phrases you want your business to be known for and identified with. To help Google correlate the two, reference your company name occasionally in posts.
Long-tail keywords (keyword phrases containing three or more words) may be less desired in your primary SEO efforts, but they can certainly be massaged into your social media strategy.
Say, for example, that you own a pizza restaurant in downtown Chicago. Well, “Chicago pizza” is certainly a highly desired and competitive key phrase for SEO and one that all pizza joints would be thrilled to rank highly for. But being strategic about the keywords you use on social media could help you avoid costly ad spend.
For instance, by creating social posts such as “Come experience why Chicagoans rate us the No. 1 Best Pizza Restaurant in Downtown Chicago for classic deep-dish pizza <insert site’s contact page with map and address>,” you’ve now expanded your efforts and included additional keywords like “Downtown Chicago,” “Best Pizza,” “No. 1,” and “classic deep-dish” that would resonate with hungry Chicagoans or out-of-towners and lead them to your profile via Twitter.
And while social media might not directly affect search rankings — according to Matt Cutts — we know it assists and influences rankings based on Moz’s findings. So focus on creating high-quality, informative content, and your audience will be more enticed to share your valuable resources, which sends links back to your website and therefore boosts your authority in search engines’ eyes.
When posting blogs and other original content, create hyperlinks that route back to your website. You never know who’s watching. As I mentioned earlier, boosting links back to your website will help improve rankings. There are influencers, bloggers, and editors who just might pick up your post and broadcast it to their own networks, resulting in increased traffic to your site and social channels (a key factor in search rankings).
Traffic windfalls or not, generating clicks from your own social circles certainly helps. For example, say you run a patent law firm — an industry that is both specialized and competitive. The founding partner writes an article, “How Technology Patents Can Make or Break Your Biz Dev Efforts,” and publishes it on her blog or in a niche publication. Posting it is one thing, but getting people to read it is another.
Here are two strategies that might help this law firm gain exposure:
Regardless of your strategy, keep your efforts clean and “white hat” by focusing on human audiences.
Google emphasizes quality over quantity. Innocuous posts show channel activity but have little value when it comes to audience engagement. Focus on communicating with your followers, getting to know them, and working to become a useful resource for them.
For example, using imagery, compelling graphics, captivating photos, and short videos can make your content “sticky.” Nothing’s more cloying than a social channel that posts continuous lines of sales pitches. When your content hits the mark of what your audience wants to see and hear, search engines are sure to follow, so creating really awesome posts is key.
Having your summer intern generate massive amounts of low-quality content won’t help you in the slightest. Only the “socially fit” are worthy of handling your social media channels. Being socially fit means having excellent writing skills, possessing a keen knowledge of brand architecture, and being versed in graphic design, along with having an intuitive marketing mindset of who, when, where, and what. This type of talent knows how to write, design, and post for your followers, so hand over the reins or hire an individual who can take on this vital role.
Whether your social media efforts are well-established or just starting out, traction is the name of the game. Traction equates to being seen by more eyeballs. Visibility among the right audience leads to more engagement, and engagement equates to greater potential for conversions. So utilize those key phrases in your social strategy, link whenever the content allows, remember C.R.A.P., and don’t skimp on hiring talent. May the social and optimization forces be with you — always.
Allan is the co-founder of KAOH media, a marketing and public relations agency that creates and manages digital assets for its clients while driving targeted, meaningful engagement via data-driven communications. His expertise in advocacy and public outreach has landed clients in a variety of industries ranging from biotech to renewable energy, to law firms and tech startups.