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December 22, 2011

The New Part Played by Social Media in SEO

When most people start planning SEO for their website I can bet you a large proportion of them get stuck when it comes to really understanding what part social media has to play in SEO.

Social media often lags further down the priority list behind SEO for a variety of reasons, mainly a lack of clarity as to what benefits it will actually bring and the fact that it’s often difficult to relate a tweet or Facebook message to a return on investment whereas with SEO, for example, website owners can more easily attribute a growth in sales to new rankings for key-phrases.

However, the way that social media has evolved means that it now plays a much more important role in search engine optimization. Searches are now taking into account the reputation of websites as reflected in social media sites to determine rank.

What Content do Users want to Share?

A more common occurrence nowadays is the placing of social networking buttons alongside pages and various pieces of content within the website.

That’s all fair and well, but it’s only an issue if people actually bother to click on them.

Users will generally want to share some content if:

* They find it funny or amusing
* Interesting
* Educational or inspiring
* Controversial or shocking

Depending on what business you’re in, particular areas of the page can be targeted towards the above sharing factors. So if the page in question is about a product, then the focus could be on the:

* Product Description
* Price
* Reviews
* Images

The marketing principle here is relatively straight forward. Like you would plan content for SEO to ensure maximum effect – take the same approach towards social media strategy. Identify areas of content that could be of interest to users and are most likely to be shared. Don’t be afraid to adopt or add to the content to make it appear more attractive / amusing to users. At the end of the day, whatever works best for you!

Facebook Seeding for SEO

The principle behind using Facebook is to engage with, and build an army of fans who then recommend you to others which means more ‘likes’ and help for the SEO and the domain of the website. However it’s not just that simple – to build a presence on Facebook and to attract fans takes ongoing work and management. The following tips will help you to build a suitable fan page and attract new followers:

* Design an entrance page that compels the visitor to click on the ‘like’ button – there are many things you can do for this – be creative, clever and innovative.

* By using Facebook PPC ads you can drive visitors towards the fan page thus building a larger and more active fan base that in turn helps the SEO and brand awareness of your business.

Social Sharing Sites

Some online communities, such as Digg and StumbleUpon are dedicated to sharing content and can be very powerful ways of spreading a message about your brand and forming social media links that will directly help your SEO. Users can vote on the content and enough votes will result in being featured on the homepage. A link from one of these sites will reflect well on the SEO of your own.

Again though, it’s not enough to stick up any old content and hope for the best. If it’s unplanned and ill thought through, the likelihood is people won’t click on it. In order to stand a chance of success follow these basic steps:

* Devise an eye catching and attractive piece of content that readers are likely to share. Offer people an incentive to share it, whether that means free samples, a discount or just make it so funny, amusing or interesting that people are compelled to share it. Just making it a straight forward advert isn’t going to work – be imaginative.

* Now you need to promote it, and this means work! Create suitable profiles, engage with users and don’t be pushy.

Social Competitions

The idea of running competitions isn’t a new one, but conducting a competition using social media solely, is.

The principle is basic – get users to follow your business on social media and in return they stand a chance to win something. Entering such a competition is easy for people – all they need to do is click ‘follow’ or ‘like’ and that’s it.

The Social Media / SEO Relationship

This is where website owners sometimes get confused. The whole idea behind social content seeding is attracting social signals rather than the traffic. Yes traffic will come to the site via social media sites, but it will not result in conversions.

Where the benefit comes is from the organic rankings, the place where people are already looking for you. The social signals will be helping your website attain better rankings and that’s how the conversions are achieved.

Article by Kausik Dutta. As a UK based search engine optimization company, SEO UK can develop and roll out social media campaigns for any new or established business. SEO UK has a wealth of experience when it comes to social media and can successfully weave it with SEO so as to create the maximum impact.