Since SiteOlytics started tracking Social Metrics I do get more and more questions about social metrics and how they are related to SEO. Therefore I decided to write this brief overview that explains what social SEO really is.
What is Social SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a phrase that encompasses the efforts that you undertake as a means to improve your site or blog’s rankings in the search engines, such as Google and Bing. The better the SEO, the better the ranking in the SERP, or search engine results page when users type in phrases and words that have a relation to content similar to your site. Social SEO then is a term that refers specifically to the way that social media sites and links can play on your company’s search engine rankings.
Social SEO is about using and leveraging social media as a means to boost rankings, and this is very important. Google is starting to put quite a bit of emphasis on social media sites when it comes to rankings in the search engines, so companies that spend enough time and effort working on the social media aspects of their SEO will see the most results from it. Social SEO is critical for the success of a business today.
Social SEO has a host of different benefits for companies. One of the biggest benefits is the fact that the links that come from social media sites are high quality. When the link comes from one of the larger social networking channels, it carries far more weight than a link from an unknown website. Naturally, this is very beneficial for your site. Social media also has the potential to drive offline sales.
social network links
The higher quality links are great, but social SEO also increases the number of the links as well. You have the potential to have the best of both worlds – quality and quantity. Whenever a follower on one of the social media sites shares your link with the world and their followers, there is a chance that one of those other followers could also add the link, spreading the influence of your brand and business even further. This will improve the search rankings.
Social media also allows companies to have more online “real estate”. They can be in several places – their site and their social sites. This allows more people to have the opportunity to find the business. As long as the companies are putting effort into starting a real social media presence, rather than just opening up accounts and letting them stagnate, it becomes easier to get content in front of the right people.
Google Plus Page
In addition to the quality and quantity of links provided by social SEO, the speed at which the new content appears is faster. After posting to a blog, it generally takes some time for the content to appear in the search engines. By posting links to the social media sites whenever you post new content, it can get into the engines faster. The reason for this is simple.
The search engine spiders crawl sites with frequent content updates, such as Twitter and Facebook, more often than they crawl sites such as yours. With your content on those social sites, it allows the spiders to crawl your link on the social sites, realize it has not indexed the page yet, and then add it to the index. This is faster than just waiting for the spiders to crawl your site.
It is very important for companies to put a lot of thought and effort into their social SEO today. Without the power of social media helping to leverage the SEO for the site, the company will not be able to stand up to the competition. Fortunately, it does not have to be overly difficult to take advantage of social SEO.
What does social SEO require?
Building a social media presence as a means to build your social SEO, and thus your company, takes some work, and you do have to be willing to put in the time and effort if you want to reap the rewards. The first thing a company needs to do is be willing to commit to the social sites. It is about more than merely setting up an account and hoping that it gains some traction.
Companies need to optimize their social media profiles. They need them to be as descriptive as they can be. By filling out all of the information for the content, such as the “about” sections that many of the sites have. When filling those areas out, it is important to be descriptive about the company, and that means using key search terms that someone else might use when searching for a company such as yours. Do not stuff the sections with keywords though. Make the descriptions natural. In the profiles, you always want to add a link back to your home page as well, as long as the site allows it. The most important social media channels do.
You need to optimize the social content that you include on your various social media sites as well. Include relevant keywords in the content and posts, and make sure that you are sharing content from your site or blog, along with relevant links back to the material. This will really give your site the social SEO boost that you want.
Be sure that the content on your site is sharable as well. This is highly important, but it was something that many companies were not doing when they first started using social media. What this means is that when you post to your blog or site, you want to have buttons on the content that makes it instantly and easily sharable with all of the most important social media sites. This way, when a visitor happens by your blog and finds something of interest, it is possible to share with all of the visitor’s followers with just a simple click.
It is also important for companies to remember that social media needs to be social. The conversations cannot be one-sided like a static website. Instead, communication through the social networks, and blogs for that matter, goes both ways. Interaction with the followers, who may be customers or prospective customers, is important. Businesses need to walk a delicate balance here though, as they do not want to start arguments with or amongst their followers, which is extremely easy to do online. Build good and strong relationships with people on the social sites, and their enthusiasm for your brand will drive them to share your content and do much of the social media work for you.
Which Social SEO Channels Are Most Influential?
Today, it seems as though there are countless social media outlets for people and companies to use. However, no company will want to become a part of all of those social media sites. They need to choose the options that have the most influence and that can make the most different to their business. The following are the top social media channels that all companies today should be using regularly.
Google+ might not have the same popularity as Twitter and Facebook do, but it is still a very important social site to join and use. Since you want to rank higher in Google’s page rankings, it makes sense that you would want to become a part of the social network they support the most. You can add custom links from Google+ to your site, and it is easy to share content that is quickly indexed on Google’s search engines.
Facebook is still at the top of the heap when it comes to social media sites, and Twitter is just as popular and important. These two channels are the top two that no business should be without today. It is even possible to make posting even easier by connecting the Twitter account to the Facebook account. When posting to Twitter, the post will automatically show up on the Facebook page as well. This can cut down on redundant posting.
Pinterest is a third site that most companies should consider. It is an easy way to share content, and is actually very good for building links. You can increase the content’s visibility on the site by adding keywords. It is also possible to customize the link from the pins and direct people to your blog or website. People can even share the pin to give it more views. It is a good way to rank higher in the search engine pages.
LinkedIn can be a good way to keep in contact with peers and other professionals in the field, and it does have some potential for content sharing, which can help with SEO. Companies should certainly have a LinkedIn page.
How to manage your Social Sites?
One of the biggest things to remember with social media is that it needs to be current and constant. You have to make sure to spend time on each of the social media outlets each day. It does not have to be a long time, at least for some companies. Still, most companies will spend at least an hour or two a day on social media. Some even need to hire specialists.
When working with social media sites, quality, consistency, and frequency of posting are all very important elements. Someone needs to do more than just post on the sites though. Companies need someone who can actually manage the sites and respond to queries from the followers. Without engagement and response, the number of followers will eventually dwindle.
Who Should Manage the Social Media Sites?
This is a question that many companies have when they start getting involved with social media. In the beginning, it generally seems easy enough to manage the various sites without external help. However, as the number of followers grows, as the company grows, and as the number of people who need attention on those networks grows, there needs to be someone working fulltime at it. Some companies may choose to bring aboard a social media specialist who can handle all of the functions of their social networks for them. Other companies might actually hire outside specialists who handle social media.
Whenever a company realizes that they are not able to keep up with the demands of the social media sites, it is time to hire someone to help. Social media is too important and powerful to ignore.
When used improperly, social media can cause quite a few problems. If a company does not post often, and they do not post relevant content, it will cost them followers. If the company only posts link after link to their own side, it can also cause followers to leave. People do not only want to know about your company’s latest offering. The links and content you provide needs to be useful in some manner.
Another problem that can strike, and that was briefly mentioned earlier, is online arguing that escalate into a nightmare for the company. The people who are running the social media sites need to be friendly and helpful and they cannot engage in online arguments with followers. The company never comes out on top in these situations, and it can damage the brand.
How Does PR Fit into Social SEO?
PR, or public relations, and social SEO go hand in hand. Companies need to have public relations specialists available to help them with situations such as the one mentioned earlier about arguing with followers online. PR people can help to calm any issues that arise, and they can help you keep your brand’s integrity and value no matter what might happen. More and more companies are starting to hire public relations groups to help them manage online troubles, just as much as they are for real world issues.
The power of social media is only going to grow stronger in the coming years. People are more connected to the web every day, and that is where businesses must go to compete, and the social networks, even though they might change, promise to be a vital part of finding business for many more years to come.
Roland Oberdorfer is a Managing Director and Co-Founder at SiteOlytics Inc. Prior to his current role Roland was the CTO of HP’s consumer direct organization and the General Manager for Web and eCommerce at NIVIDIA. You can find him on Google+ and on Facebook.