The line between social media and SEO has been rapidly blurring for some time and today a SEO strategy without a social media plan is incomplete, while the social media user who neglects SEO is unlikely to have rapid success; or even success at all. This is because successive Google algorithm updates have given more and more weight to “social” indicators of popularity for websites, and where Google leads other search engines are sure to follow in a bid to catch up. Regardless of whether you’re looking at the problem from an SEO perspective or a social media perspective it is important that you have both social media activity and SEO working hand in hand if you want to maximise your effectiveness and reach. Here are three ways you need to make sure your social media and SEO efforts work together to increase effectiveness:
Use SEO Best Practice in Your Social Media
When you’re making use of social media you’ll still want to use some of the same SEO techniques you use for your content on your main website. You should have a particular set of keywords you have decided your business will target and you should use these in both your social media and your more traditional content creation. While you won’t be able to use all your keywords in your social media all the time you will have opportunities to drop them in every now and then. Just when using SEO in articles you don’t want to keyword stuff you won’t want to use too many through social media. If you’re providing high quality content you should naturally be including some keywords and with a bit of tweaking you can get just the right amount. Just as you want to include keywords you should also consider your social media to be part of your internal linking strategy. A visitor to your website or any one of your social media outlets should be able to navigate to and from your main website with ease.
Getting Started With SEO and Social Media
Before beginning the implementation of any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy you’ll first need to do keyword research to discover which keywords are best to target to get the most visitors. A keyword is simply a word that sums up a topic and that people might search for on a search engine. (Explained in detail in a recent article about how SEO works under the hood of your website.) Keywords can be very broad for example “dogs” which will return millions of search results or they can be something quite narrow such as “Golden Retriever grooming techniques” which is likely to return a lot less results. It is important to aim for specific keywords in order to get the most visitors possible because some keywords will be more or less relevant to your site and some will be harder or easier to rank for in search engines depending on the competition. Keyword research is one of the most important activities you can undertake when starting SEO because it will ensure your efforts are put into the areas that will bring you the most customers.
The First Step to Keywords
At its most simple level you can decide upon keywords simply by writing down the top words or phrases that describe what your site is about. For example if you had a site about dogs you might choose “dog, dogs, dog training, dog food, dog grooming, dog walking, dog illnesses” as your keywords. The only problem with this is that you are a) not finding very many keywords and b) the keywords you are finding are highly competitive and it will be very hard to get into the top ten search results for them.
To find additional keywords you can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Start off by inputting one or several keywords into the Keyword Tool and the tool will return to you hundreds of suggested keywords that people are searching for along with estimates of the number of times they are searched and an indication of the number of sites ranking for that keyword. From the list you can then select certain keywords to target by including them in your content.
Here are some great pointers to keep in mind when selecting keywords:
1) The quality of a keyword depends not only on the amount of people searching for it but also on the amount of websites you are competing against. You want to have as many people searching for it as possible while as few people competing for the keyword as possible. You can compare two keywords in a simple way by taking the number of people searching and dividing by the number of websites ranking for it. Whichever keyword gives a larger number in this formula is better – this is a very simply method but can be quite effective.
2) Up to 70% of searches are for “long-tail keywords” – ignore them at your peril! A long-tailed keyword is something like our previous example of “Golden Retriever grooming techniques”. While many less people search for these keywords there are also much less sites competing for them so they are often the best keywords to go for.
3) Keywords are constantly changing and fluctuate in popularity. What may be a great keyword to aim for today may not be so good in six months and vice versa. One of the most profitable ways to get traffic is to find a keyword at the beginning of a trend and ride the up-wave of traffic that results from the increased number of people searching for it.
Now Let’s Marry SEO and Social Media
Okay so now you have your basic search engine optimization strategy in place because you know your keywords, it is now time to join your SEO with your Social Media.
Promote the Same Pages through SEO and Social Media
One of the biggest mistakes people new to social media make is to not promote the same landing pages that you’re promoting through your standard SEO. Your social media should be linking through to your main pages rather than to a new one, this way your SEO and social media have a cumulative effect rather than distributing your incoming links across several pages. It is much better to focus on a few main pages and get them to the top of the rankings than have several pages hitting the bottom of the second page of Google.
Quantity without Quality Is Pointless
No matter where or how you are creating content for your customers it is the quality of your content that will draw people in rather than the quantity. If you have to choose between creating content twice as fast and doing it twice as well the latter will always be preferable. This works doubly so for social media where an overabundance of content can be a turn-off for potential customers. You might have the most interesting and useful content in the world but no customer will want to receive 50 twitter updates from you in one day, the best case scenario is that they’ll read a few of them, worst case they’ll remove you from their feed.
Make Your Post Titles Eye-Catching
Your post titles are important for both search engine optimization and for social media. This is the only thing that the human will focus on when searching or browsing through social media. Google plus gives SEO benefits that seem to be different to other networks and one of the main features is to be able to edit your entries for SEO. This means you can change your post titles to suit these users. Maybe you need a short and sweet post title, maybe you need a bigger description?
Just think about this, when you search in Google, you immediately read through the results, scanning all of the post titles. Then you will click on the one that is the closest match to your search query. In social media you will click on the title that is also related to you your interests.