Figure 1: "Man with the Golden Voice" video wasn't optimized nor sharable on The Columbus Dispatch
Integrating SEO with your social media strategy isn't just something you should "think" about doing. Optimizing your social media efforts so that both search engines and social community members can find your content is essential if you're going to have any chance at success and for your own efforts to get the "credit" rather than another company or individual.
Take for example last year's viral video of the man with the "Golden Voice." I wrote about this in depth, but in essence, had the newspaper who originally found this man paid attention to optimizing their content along with allowing it to be shared, they would have gotten the millions of views, plus the notoriety that came along with finding the man and becoming the authority on the subject, not MSNBC's Today Show or YouTube.
Your company doesn't have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars set aside to integrate search engine optimization into your social media efforts. Any small business can make sure they're taking the essential steps that will help their content get the traction it needs. The key to making sure that your content is optimized is two-part. First, optimizing for how people search when they go to a search engine like Google or Bing, and second, optimizing for how people search when they go to a social networking community like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
When people search in search engines, they generally start with a concept like "red shoes." When people search in social communities, they are more specific - they search for brands, products, and people with a lot more specificity because they know it from either exposure from media, seeing a friend in their network mention it (posting, sharing, or "liking" it), or they are already familiar with you and they want to connect with you specifically.
So how can you balance optimizing for both? Take some of these tips and integrate them into your social media efforts.
Secure your social media profiles. You may not use them all, but make sure you secure all of your social media profiles on the most popular social media communities like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, YouTube, Flickr, etc. When you create the accounts, make sure that your name on these profiles is your business, brand, or given name that people associate with your company, not something generic like "Smithville pizza shop" or "Tanning Salon." Make sure to fill out the description of your business, include a URL to your website, phone number where they can contact you, hours of operation, and if you aren't active in that particular community, let them know where they can engage with you. Granted, some profiles give you limited space, so use it wisely; remember to include the information that will be most important to the community member, not what you think is important.
Utilize pictures in your content or as your content. With the phonemic rise of Pinterest in the last three months, this has become even more of a crucial piece of making sure your content is found, especially if your demographic includes women. The fact is that we as humans are very visual creatures; it's why Flickr has more photos than the population of Canada, and YouTube has billions of video views a day. If you are writing blog posts, ebooks, downloadable PDFs, newsletters, recipes, instructions, etc., make sure you include vibrant, eye-catching images. Also, make sure your images have captions, and the "alt" attribute (sometimes referred to as "alt tag") is filled out describing the image or what your content is about.
If you are creating infographics, charts, or original images, it's essential to make sure you integrate your company name and your URL into the infographic so that people know how to find you as the original source. People love to share these types of media in social communities, and most like to give credit to the original source; if they can't find it, they give credit to where ever they found it.
Link your new content back to older content. Especially if you're putting content out on a consistent basis, this is an easy way to get people who are just discovering you via social media communities interested in the previous content you've created. There's several easy ways to do this, especially with blogs such as WordPress where you can utilize plug-ins to show your most popular posts that day, or in the past week, month, or specific period of time. You can also link back within your content to older pieces you've created, which is not only good for helping a page to rank, it also gets the search engines' spiders crawling deeper into your content and helping to ensure that it has been crawled.
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Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.