Why does social media matter to search marketers?
Social media has forced its way into the world of marketing, and it's here to stay. Social networks and blogs are among the most popular online activities, and their popularity will continue to grow as more businesses utilize them to directly engage customers. Consider these estimates from mid-2010:
Social media is big - and getting bigger. Use the power of social media to support your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy by integrating basic SEO best practices and using the same keywords you know work in SEO, in those environments to engage a wider audience and improve your online presence.
Engaging Your Audience
Social media is a terrific way to communicate with customers and improve brand awareness. If you have a social media team, get to know them really well! If you do, they should do this, if not, you do it: create a corporate profile on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and establish a company blog. Your company will not only appear more often in search engine results, but you'll set the stage for stronger communication between your company and customers. It might seem overwhelming at first, but soon you'll find that just by engaging with customers - responding to complaints and praise on Twitter, for example - you'll begin to create more content and drive more traffic. Remember: social media isn't free; this work takes a lot of strategic thinking, inter-department cooperation, and dedicated time of staff and/or agencies to monitor and engage with customers. The worst thing you can do is set these up then forget them! Check out ClickZ content on social media to help you out.
Even if you don't have an actual brick-and-mortar location, submitting your business to Google's Local Business Listings can help your company rank higher. These listings take precedence over others, and they have the added benefit of increasing customer confidence because they see you're a real company.
In many cases, just creating profiles will help your company dominate the results for brand terms. Search engines trust social media platforms and often usher them to the front of the line. This will help both potential and devoted customers find your content either in social networking profiles or your corporate website. It will also leverage universal search results to push either competitors or "negative content" about you down off the first page of results. Check out Andy Beal who spoke about reputation management at SES San Francisco and his other ClickZ columns.
"Take the online shoe company Zappos: a search for the brand results in Facebook and Twitter accounts and their corporate blog. Three listings link to the company website and five of the top 10 are part of Zappos' social media marketing efforts. "
These are just a couple of easy things you can do to enhance your SEO rankings through social media. If you properly optimize these profiles and let users generate even more content in their own terms and language, you can reach an even wider audience and further dominate search results.
Learning From Interactions
While dominating the results for branded keywords is important, social media also positively influences your website's link authority (aka PageRank). By controlling these profiles, you can share links to internal pages of your website. If you're an advanced social media user, incorporate trending topics and popular hash tags into your tweets to appear in Google's real-time search results.
Submitting your blog posts to social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit can drive traffic to your website and create strong back-links. If you apply cross-linking principles, readers can visit your website via links posted on your profiles. Monitoring social bookmarking sites also provides a glimpse of how people discuss your company. Understanding your audience and their language aids your keyword research and marketing efforts. We put the "AddThis" functionality in a "Share" button on every page of our site to great effect.
Establish a strong social following and respond quickly and effectively to important industry events or negative press. By reacting quickly through all your outlets including social profiles, using your SEO best practices and the keywords you know your customers use, you can secure multiple listings in the search engine results pages and push negative content down to the second or third pages. This is perhaps the most powerful integration of social media and SEO, but you can't do it overnight. So start creating these profiles and developing your strategy, supporting a loyal following. Benefits will accrue to you quickly and continue to grow.
This column was originally published on August 25, 2010 on ClickZ.
Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.
Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.
A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.
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