When people say social media marketing helps you in search, what do they mean? Are we doing all this online socializing to simply get links and boost our page rank? The answer is a clear no. Launching and managing a whole social platform is a lot of effort to simply get links. So why are we really doing social media marketing? We’re doing it to weave our content into the social fabric of the Web and embed our products, brands, and information into places where people gather, converse, and share. We do it to make our content part of the larger body of information residing on the Web, outside the borders of our Web sites. So that’s where search really comes in. By doing this, more of our content pops in search results (text and universal) and promotes our products and services.
Search Results are Information Hub Pages
Google and other search engine results are no longer boring static gateways to other sites. They are our starting point to anything we’re seeking or researching in our personal and professional lives. They are information hub pages that bring together a wide range of links, videos, images, products, social streams, ads, news, and other elements into a single view. In other words, they are the customized on-demand home pages for what we are looking for at any given moment. They are transforming into rich, multimedia experiences that deliver anything we need in the form we want to consume it in. So this is where SEO and social media marketing come together. It’s not all about links – it’s about the distribution of your content and that content appearing in search results.
Digital Assets Optimization and Social Media Marketing
So, while SEO has traditionally been about your site popping in the search engines, social-based digital asset optimization is about getting your content out there, optimizing it for target terms, and having as many mentions and real estate on a results page around a particular topic as you can. Of course, one listing may be from your site, but don’t you want to be the subject of, or at least mentioned in, the content of the other listings? How about blog posts? Are you or your products mentioned? In universal search results, is that your product shot, chart, graphic, or video included and above the fold? How about in image results and video results in Google Images and YouTube? How many of the listings belong to you?
Here are a few tips to make sure the content you create is optimized for posting to your site and for social media marketing, like pushing out content via tweets, blog posts, Flickr photo albums, YouTube video posts, blog posts, press releases, and Facebook updates:
Here are seven tips for getting your content out there in a big way:
- Target terms: This is an elementary SEO step. Create a target list of terms and destinations for those terms. Then use those terms in an opportunistic way with all your digital assets.
- Pictures and images: Use target terms in your image file names, alt tags, captions, and product names (for example, instead of “the Impact,” you say “the Impact finishing hammer”). Then you post images to Flickr and other public photo sites, using target terms in your titles, tags, and descriptions, and link to target pages on your site. If you are an e-commerce site, post all your images to Flickr in this way as well. People are shopping for products via image searches now: blue bar stool, orange T-shirt, black leather binder. If you’re a B2B site, infographics, charts, and graphs are great Flickr content.
- Videos and presentations: Do not embed YouTube videos in your site; serve them yourself, and if it’s a short video, put an abridged transcript on the page below the fold. Then use target terms in the page’s metadata, video title, caption, and file name. Then put the video on YouTube and the other top video sites. Use your target terms in the title, tags, descriptions, file name (when possible), and of course add a link to a target page. For your PowerPoint presentations, same as YouTube, but post them to SlideShare.
- Tweets and Facebook Fan Page status updates: While these will not always help your page rank, these little bursts of content are showing up in search results in live search and indexed Twitter pages (yes, your tweets do get indexed, and your Facebook Fan Pages are public and do get indexed). So use target terms in these communications as much as you can, and lose the tiny URLs if you can – naked URLs to your site are best if you can make them short and sweet (just track with Google Analytics).
- PDFs: On all PDFs, use your high value terms in headers, content, and the PDF meta data (yes, PDFs have meta data). Then post your PDFs to Docstoc. com (the YouTube of PDFs), and use your target terms in the title, file name, and of course description. Got some media money and doing a white paper syndication buy with IDG or other providers? Use your target terms in the white paper titles and abstracts.
- Press releases and blog posts: This is pretty standard. Keywords in your title, headers, and copy; embed video and images into those wire service releases, when you can, with keyword-infused file names.
- XML site maps: Finally, get to know Google site maps – all of them. Google is listing six right now: regular, news, video, code search, geo, and mobile.
There’s more, but that covers the big stuff. If done right and done consistently, the lines between SEO and social media marketing will start to blur. You’ll be covering three bases with one program: site SEO, digital asset optimization, and social media marketing.
This column originally appeared in the March 2010 edition of SES Magazine.