Ignore social media optimisation at your peril
By Stephen Hudson - SEO Consultant.
I don't believe the news that SEO is dead! As long as search engines exist then so will search engine optimisation. I do agree however that SEO has changed and will continue to change. We've already seen the SEO industry change from an industry that favoured link building techniques and schemes to one that now focuses on content marketing and social sharing (mainly because of Google’s numerous algorithm changes). Now as social continues to grow we’ll see the industry change again.
This time the changes won’t be on a company’s website, but rather their social media networks. The likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn will have a much bigger part to play in search rankings than ever before, in fact this may already be happening. Forrester recently released a report which shows that in 2012, 32% of discoveries came from social with 54% coming from search. This is an increase of 25% compared to 2011!
Google already uses its own social media network as one way of influencing a website’s ranking in the SERPs. Websites that have Google+ and see their content receive a large number of +1s could be considered more reliable than those that don’t. Does this mean that the days of optimising a website are gone? No! SEO consultants just need to modify their techniques to include social media optimisation.
What is social media optimisation (SMO)?
Alt tags, keywords, URLs, titles and content are just a few of the words that come up when talking about optimising a website, and this won’t change, but on social media the main word is sharing. Sharing content that is then shared again and again is the goal and one that isn't necessarily easy to achieve but essential if you want any chance of keeping your website high in the search engine rankings. What’s more, each social media network is different to the next, meaning social media optimisation can’t be a five minute job at the end of each day. On Twitter, hashtags are all important, as is making your 140 characters sparkle. If you’re successful, mentions and re-tweets will follow. Facebook uses the ‘like’ button to show a post’s popularity as well as a sharing button for (as the name suggests) shares and similarly Google+ uses a +1 feature, the more +1s you get the better.
While each of these networks use different buttons to determine the success of a post, the main goal of social media should be to encourage users to interact with you or your company. Don’t just bore readers with streams of what you offer – share interesting articles from other sources, encourage conversations, share pictures and generally get involved. It’s ok to share your own products or services occasionally but make sure these don’t make up the majority of your posts.
There are a number of smaller features that are involved in SMO which may be missed. It is important to make sure all logos and profile pictures are the same across your networks, this helps to maintain brand awareness. It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many companies haven’t mastered this. You should also make sure your network profile is fully complete, things such as addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and opening hours are extremely important but sometimes overlooked. It is also important to make sure your content is being used properly on each network. If you research the style of audiences each network attracts you’ll be able to attract to right audience and achieve the biggest percentage of conversions.
Incorporating SEO and SMO?
The key question many SEO consultants are asking is whether SEO and SMO are becoming part of a larger digital marketing service? We can’t speak for the industry as a whole, but we believe it is. The dominance and power of social means it’s no longer something we in SEO can ignore. Building an audience on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other networks is just as important as making sure your website is properly optimised. It takes time, hard work and constant monitoring, but we in the SEO industry understand these necessities, as they are the same requirements we are currently working under.
Any SEO consultant that is committed to achieving a good website ranking will naturally include social media optimisation techniques in any appraisals and digital marketing campaigns they suggest to a client. The merger of social media optimisation and search engine optimisation means that any SEO consultants who ignore SMO do so at their own peril!