Social SEO – An Innovative Search Marketing Strategy
The purpose of your small business website is to attract online visitors and convert them into consumers of your product or service. Simply having a website is not enough. In order to stay at the top of search rankings you need to keep optimizing your website and content. Most likely you already heard of content marketing. Social SEO is another way to do just that.
For those of you still unclear on the subject; SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Technical SEO includes all the actions taken to ensure your website can be found in a search engine’s results page (SERP) when searching for words or phrases relevant to the content on your website. That includes keyword strategy, internal and external linking, Meta descriptions, and all that good stuff.
So what the hell is Social SEO? Basically, social SEO refers to the idea that social media links and interaction play a considerable part in a website’s search rankings. Google and Bing consider a brand’s social media presence as a key search ranking factor. Therefore you need to consider social media as a critical part of social SEO.
SEO is all about optimizing content—whether it’s on your website or on a social media platform—in order to appear higher in search rankings. That includes creating SEO-friendly content, building SEO-friendly links, and generally avoiding common SEO mistakes. Since social SEO is a fairly new concept here are six simple social SEO tips you can implement today.
Simple and Effective Social SEO Tips
1 – Claim and Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
Many small business owners have a love-hate relationship with social media. They love attracting a new audience, but most often hate the actual posting and engaging on social media. Unfortunately you need to have a social presence in order to benefit from social SEO. If you do not already have a social media presence our social media starter kit will help.
The key to an SEO friendly social media profile is to be as complete and descriptive as possible. Always fill out the ‘About’ or ‘Information’ sections of any social media platform. Use words or phrases that describe your business and are also terms individuals would use to search for your business. Include your keywords if you can without sounding fake.
For example, to optimize your Facebook Page for local searches, be sure to include your complete business address. Use exactly the same convention for listing your address as on your website. Always include links from your social channels back to your business’s website (and links from your website to your social channels).
Bonus Tip: The “Category” field is often overlooked on Facebook Pages, but is important for Facebook mobile searches. Check to make sure your business is listed as the correct category or categories while completing your basic information.
2 – Create a Google+ Brand Page
Yes, I know. Google+ is not exactly the most popular platform out there. And quite frankly I was not all that keen on getting a Google+ profile when one of our strategists first mentioned it. Thank you, Cara! The Studio 5 Innovation brand page has almost half a million likes! But no one loves Google+ more than Google, which makes it even more important for social SEO.
Sign up for a Google+ Brand Page and complete as many fields as you can in the “About” section using keywords that describe your business. Google also allows you to add several customized links within your profile, you can use this as an opportunity to link back to your website, any blog you contribute to, and your other social channels.
Spend at least 15 minutes a day sharing your content to your Google+ page and interacting with your communities or circles. You can target specific circles that are looking for the exact content your brand is sharing by joining other Google+ communities. By doing so you’ll be much more likely to appear within Google’s SERP.
3 – Create a Google+ Local Listing
Search plays a big part in social SEO. According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. In order to perform well in local search results it’s critical that you optimize your Google+ Local listing (formally known as Google Places). A Google+ Location Page is different from a Google+ Brand Page because it allows customers to easily connect with that business’s physical location.
Be sure and complete all details about your business—address, phone number, hours, etc. Make sure to include any other information potential customers will need, such as the credit cards you take, or if you provide parking. And remember that if you have multiple locations you need to create a Google+ location page for each!
Insider Tip: Keep your information up-to-date and consistent on Google+ Local and Facebook, and other networks and review sites such as Yelp. That includes updating seasonal store hours!
4 – Build Links Through sharable Content
The foundation of social SEO is the creation of sharable content. Content that your audience loves, and wants to share with others, serves two purposes. First of all it satisfies Google’s requirement of fresh and relevant content for your website. Keeping an active blog and having an active social presence are the best way to create and share fresh content. And when that content gets shared it creates links back to your website.
Link building is a key factor in SEO. In essence, link building means building good website-to-website relationships through links. When you have more quality sites with high page rank linking to your website (inbound) and you are linking to other quality websites (outbound) the more authoritative Google thinks your website is. More authority equals a higher SERP rank.
Likes, shares, social media and blog comments, +1s, repins, retweets, etc., all influence the weight search engines give to your links. If you create content people want to share, you can create more inbound links. Not all content has to be a blog post or white paper; content can also refer to tweets or social media posts as well. By posting engaging social content, you’re improving your SEO value. And that is the basis of social SEO.
Bonus Tip: A great way to increase shares is to add social share or “Tweet This” buttons to individual pieces of content on your website or blog.
5 – Use Pinterest
Pinterest is an ideal tool for social SEO. Pinterest is great for creating sharable content and link building. And it can actually improve your SEO keyword strategy. Google indexes pages from websites with heavy traffic faster and higher in a SERP. Social SEO and Pinterest make it much easier to increase your website traffic.
You can increase your content’s visibility in SERPs by adding keywords within the title of a Pinterest board or board description. Even better, you have up to 500 characters to describe each individual pin. This provides another valuable opportunity to include keywords.
You can also customize each pin’s link and point people back to your website or blog. This also helps to increase the opportunity for your content to rank higher in a SERP. From a social SEO perspective, Pinterest allows you to do a few things that other social platforms don’t, so take advantage of it.
Bonus Tip: Google prefers high-resolution images, so use high-quality images on Pinterest whenever possible.
6 – Optimize your Social Media Content and Updates
The final step to effective social SEO is content creation and curation. To optimize your social content, always try to include at least some of the relevant search keywords you determined for your business in your social media updates. Keep it relevant and interesting for your target audience, but don’t come across as a know-it-all.
It’s important to remember to share content from your website or blog on social channels to give it an SEO boost too. Facebook updates, tweets, Instagram pictures, pin descriptions, etc. should all contain at least one of your keywords. Sharing new content on Twitter is especially important because it helps Google index it faster, meaning Google adds this URL to their database faster.
Bonus Tip: Always use your business’s name in your social posts. This helps Google associate the keywords you use to describe your business with your business’s name.
Avoid Common Mistakes:
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- Not making your business’s social media sites public.
- Not completing and optimizing your social profiles.
- Creating a Facebook Profile instead of a Facebook Page. How To Turn Facebook Profile Into Page
- Not customizing your Facebook URL. How To Choose Username
- Not using your business’s name as your social profile name.
- Using different or inconsistent business names on your social profiles.
- Uploading images with file names such as: Photo1 or IMG1287; images with meaningful file names help you rank better Image File Names and SEO
- If something appears to be a fast and easy way to improve your SEO it’s probably a black hat tactic Google penalizes those who implement them.
Some Final Thoughts on Social SEO
Social SEO is not the wonder solution, the magic bean to get you in the number one spot on SERPs. And small business owners need to understand that improving your SEO takes time. And on Google and Bing SERP changes don’t happen overnight. This is not something you can just “turn on.”
But I guarantee that you will not get anywhere without taking the first step. So unless you simply don’t need or care to be found online, social SEO is a very effective way to get your brand message in front of a new audience. Social SEO tends to be more fun, and less dry and technical, for small business owners. Even better, it usually takes less time.
And finally, as a small business owner you shouldn’t overly obsess and worry over technical or social SEO. Instead, focus on providing your customers with the best possible experience. As long as your online presence, including your website, blog, and social profiles, and your physical location accurately represent your brand your business will grow through referrals and reviews on social networks and review sites.
If you need more help getting started with small business social SEO or social media marketing in general check out these posts on our Coffee Grounds Blog:
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- A Social Media Starter Kit for Business Owners
- Converting Small Business Social Media into Sales
- Social Media Marketing Guide for Business Owners
- The 7 Levels of Social Media Engagement
- 9 Social Media Mistakes Most Businesses Make
Of course, some of you don’t really care about social SEO. You just don’t get or even like social media. The absolute last thing you want to do is social media anything. Don’t worry; you can still benefit from social SEO. You simply have to hire a professional to do it for you.
I recommend that you start with a professional social media strategist. Have them help you develop an overall social media marketing strategy, create an editorial calendar for your social channels and blog, and curate some initial content. Once you have a strategy and editorial calendar it will be easier for someone to continue social SEO you.
We Help Small Businesses with Social SEO!
Here at Studio 5 Innovation, we offer a full range of small business social SEO services, including digital marketing, content strategy and creation, organic social media strategies, and community management.
Say hello and learn more about our social media marketing services, and how our highly caffeinated team can help you take full advantage of social SEO for your small business marketing strategy.
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