Monday, 20 May 2013

How to Merge SEO and SMM

Search engine optimization is a critical necessity for any commercial entity that wishes to gain a strong foothold in the Internet scene. That’s why if you are an aspiring online entrepreneur or a business owner, one of the most frequent advice you’d receive from colleagues is to hire an SEO company, especially if you’re not an expert about it yourself.
Another strategy that’s currently very popular in the Internet business is social media marketing. It is the integration of marketing and promotional strategies into regular social media activity. When done right, you can earn not just higher website/blog traffic and conversions, but also a loyal community of customers.
There is so much marketing power that can be derived here. Consider it the virtual version of the word-of-mouth phenomenon, only a hundred times stronger; due to this fact, social media in itself is a valuable asset for marketing and SEO.

What Makes Social Media Ideal for Marketing?

  • Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are designed to make communication instant and easy among their respective members. One post, tweet, or pin can immediately spread word to 10, 20, or more people, depending on how many contacts a person has. 
  • When something goes “viral” on the Internet, it usually happens via these social media platforms too. 
  • Social media platforms also have several features that make it easy for marketers to make their advertisements and promotional posts seen by a very wide public. More importantly, it is easier for them to find their targeted market and direct their marketing efforts in that direction. 
  • SMM is cheaper than traditional methods, like paying websites to post an ad in the banner or sidebar. 
  • It is easier to outsource SMM tasks. Of course, it is more ideal to keep have an in-house marketing team. On the other hand, there are many aspects of social media management that are mere routine and can be entrusted to third-party service providers. This will give you more time to concentrate on more pressing responsibilities.
Given these characteristics of social media, an expert SEO should be able to see where he can move in and be of use to the marketing campaign. For example, knowing that one post may be seen by many people at one time, why not make it so that search engines will be able to see them too?
At present, Google has a very limited indexing ability for Facebook. It can only index fan pages (the posts are also visible) and user profiles (the content shown is limited though) . Bing has more access to Facebook content. As for Twitter, Facebook can index and show on its SERPs user profiles (only users who didn’t set their privacy settings to “protected” are visible) and public tweets.
What does this mean for SEO? Google’s crawlers have the widest reach in FB fanpages and public Twitter profiles. These are the type of accounts businesses and websites are advised to use. Therefore, it isn’t impossible for the official social media account of a brand, business, or website to appear in the SERPs. This leads us to our first integration method of SEO for SMM:
Inclusion of keywords and phrases in social media posts. 
When we speak of SEO, keywords are always part of the S.O.P. Search engines use keyword matches as basis for determining which websites and web pages are likely to contain the information search engine users are looking for.
As explained above, it is also possible for an exact match post or comment in Facebook and Twitter to appear in Google SERPs. This is an advantage for local businesses with very specific services because the geographic keyword + business description (ex: Italian restaurant, veterinary clinic, wedding planner, bookstore) drastically cuts down the volume of results.
A search for “veterinary clinic in Sandy Springs, Georgia” produces a Facebook account in Page4.
“Bookstore in Calgary, Alberta” shows a Facebook account on Page2.
The use of keywords is even more important for Google+ business pages. Notice that Google usually shows local businesses with Google+ accounts in the first SERPs. Others say it’s biased for Google, but it’s really because the search engine has more access to the content in Google+ than in Facebook or Twitter. Thus, your chances of making it in the first SERP increases if you have an optimized and active Google+ business page. 

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Carefully select the keywords and phrases you’ll use for social media. Use only grammatically correct phrases and words that are easily recognizable. Use terms that are sure to catch people’s attention. Don’t jump into technical lingo. Relatable, understandable words and a friendly, welcoming tone of voice works best for social media interactions.
Inclusion of website and page URLs in social posts. 
Social signals (volume and frequency of likes, favorites, shares and retweets) are used by Google as additional factors for ranking websites in the SERPs. So besides putting in keywords and phrases in your social posts, including URLs will also help raise your position in the results pages. Assuming that your URL posts will be well-received by your contacts and everyone else in the social grapevine, you won’t only get high points for social signals. You will also benefit through increase of traffic (which is yet another ranking signal used by Google).
Pursue content generation and marketing.
The number one ingredient for effective SEO is content. Without it, there’s nothing to work on for both the SEOs and the search engine bots.
By producing original content, you will always have material on hand to use for social media marketing. SMM managers understand that variety is important for social posts. Images, videos, and blog post links are great material for posting. If other people like them, they will share your posts to their own friends and contacts. That’s how things start for things that go viral.
From the infographic entitled, The Anatomy of Going Viral.

Experiment with different types of content. Decide which media type is the best for the nature of your business or website. However, you need to produce plenty of articles for good measure. Articles can propel an SEO campaign faster than any other most of the time.
Preferably, your content must contain references or allusions to your business and everything it stands for, be it the product/service you offer, the charity you support, etc… This way, people will recognize that the content is related to your business. Another scenario would be that they will remember and relate your business to the photo, video or blog post they are viewing.
Lastly, the content you produce must be well-researched, well-written, and containing relevant information. They should also be likeable, findable and shareable.
Implement a smooth workflow between SEO and marketing teams.
The examples above will be useless if there are no people who can actually put them into action. If you hire an SEO company to help your business, make sure the lines of communication are open between them and your marketing team. Have your SEO, social media managers, and marketing officers work closely together, and to come up with a smooth system of shuffling content back and forth to double check social posts for SEO, marketing, and PR points.
It is possible that you are already integrating SEO into SMM unconsciously. If you’ve been carefully wording each post, putting in keywords along with friendly come-ons to engage other users, you’re actually combining the principles of marketing and optimization. That is ultimately where everything boils down to.

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