Have you taken a good look at the SERPs lately — not just for your own site but for everything? If so, you’ve probably noticed a new presence there that’s gradually creeping its way to the top. I’m talking about social media listings. Go ahead, try it… search for just about anything (especially a business or brand) and, sure enough, about mid-page or perhaps at the top you’ll see a listing for a Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page. Even Myspace showed up in one test search, which is saying something.
What’s it all mean? Obviously, social media is having much more of an influence on search results than it has before. So, if you want to dominate the search results page, you need a killer social media campaign… right?
Well, sort of.
Look at the Forest
If you’re like most reactionary businesses, you’ll see how social media is helping other companies through networking, customer relations, brand awareness, and now SEO, and you’ll say, “Wow, I really need to start using social media.” To make it happen you go out and hire a social media agency then sit back and wait for the high rankings and traffic to start rolling in. The only problem is it’s not so simple; although wouldn’t it be great if it were?
The trouble with that approach is it only focuses on one tree in a large inbound marketing forest. Sure, focusing solely on the tree of social media will help some but not as much as nurturing every tree in the forest.
To explain, let’s discuss a couple of other “trees” most connected to social media: search/SEO and content.
How Search/SEO and Social Media are Intertwined
We’ve already mentioned how social media sites are showing up more frequently in search results, but how is this happening? Social media listings aren’t getting preferential treatment just because Google likes social networks, are they? No, Google is crawling these sites, looking for keywords, inbound traffic, “likes” and other things which signify value for searchers. Basically, search engines are treating social pages like any other webpage. And we all know the best way to standout to search engines is by using SEO.
Okay, so we’ll go out and hire a social media agency and a SEO expert. Problem solved.
Again, not quite. We can’t forget about another major tree — content.
How Content is Connected to Search and Social Media
If we only had to please Google then SEO would be so much easier. However, like it or not, humans are thrown into the mix too, and search engines pay attention to their responses. Google keeps track of things, such as “likes,” shares, user engagement, and visitors. So, to keep those numbers high you have to have content (whether it’s a tweet, Facebook update, or blog post) that truly appeals to people. And if the people love you so will Google.
Content is what attracts people to your websites, it represents your brand, provides a service (free info) to your customers, and builds your online reputation. Essentially, without great content your social media campaign is dead and, consequently, so is your goal for SERP domination.
How to Effectively Merge Social, Search, and Content?
To get the greatest exposure and to have the best overall success, every tree in your online marketing forest must thrive. This means kicking your stand-alone SEO or social media service to the curb and taking a more holistic approach to inbound marketing.
Some of the ways you can merge social, search, and content are:
- Designing Strategies that Work Across Multiple Channels: It’s important to push a cohesive brand image and “personality” across all your digital channels. This includes traditional things like always using the same logo and design as well as having each channel support the messages delivered on your other web properties. For instance, if your website says you’re a “fun” company that loves helping people then prove your point by using your social network page to chat with customers, answer questions, and provide light-hearted entertainment.Also, always encourage or entice visitors to checkout your other sites as it provides more opportunities for engagement, and the traffic will help your search rankings.
- Quality Content: You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again — content is king. It really is. Your content is what’s going to get you noticed by people and by search engines. Without it everything else will fail, because you’ll never get enough human interest to see any positive changes in social sharing or in search rankings.If you haven’t noticed, the internet consists entirely of content; the only reason people go online is for content. Even if they are chatting or socializing, that is stilla form of content. When put in such a perspective, it’s easier to see why content is so vital — everybody wants some and there’s a ton of competition.Still, not a lot of people are producing great content, which means if you have the passion and the drive you can easily become a top content source for your audience.For content to be great it has to matter. Don’t just slap up a blog or an infograph because it’s Monday and that’s the day you’re supposed to post something. Instead, give everything you create real meaning and energy. Just like in school when you could always tell a big difference between the teachers who loved their subjects and those who didn’t, readers can sense if you have genuine excitement for your topic — so, get fired up! Also, make sure you offer something different or at least do it better than everyone else as you have to make an impression in an overcrowded marketplace.
- Promote Your Content: Of course, content alone isn’t enough to make a successful campaign. You also have to promote your content to the world, because how else will people know it’s there? A great way to advertise your content is through social media. Let your followers know when you’ve posted something new on your blog or recycle the content directly on your social page (properly formatted, scaled down, etc. for the medium).
In addition to promoting it yourself, have your whole team spread the word, and don’t forget to tell people in the “real world” about your content too. Although it’s always great to get the attention of social influencers, don’t focus on them exclusively — tell everyone! The more who know the better your results will be.When a new blog is posted to the Spark Logix website, people in the office will tweet about it. Thus giving it a greater reach.
- Use Google+: If there’s any place on the web which thoroughly combines social, search, and content it is Google+. Besides being backed by the net’s most powerful search engine (that alone is enough reason to pay attention), this social network also has personalized search (Search Plus Your World) and local search in its corner, which makes it easier for consumers to find you.
Additionally, by registering your Google business page, you can give your brand a comprehensive and interconnected identity across multiple Google channels. Naturally, Google doesn’t admit to showing favoritism to its social network users; however, it stands to reason that the more you’re in Google’s “radar” the more you’ll appear in search listings.
- Optimize Everything for Search Engines: We’ve discussed how it’s important to incorporate SEO into your social campaign, but how do you make that happen? Fortunately, it doesn’t require a bunch of new strategies and consists mostly of things you’re already doing on your other sites. For instance, start incorporating targeted keywords into your social content, place social buttons in prominent locations, perform market research, track data, etc.
That said, it’s important the social media and SEO teams are working together on these efforts, so everyone is targeting the same audience and working towards the same goals.
To give your brand an online presence that’s truly a force to be reckoned with, you have to unite your social, search, and content efforts into a singular, goal-driven campaign. Everyone on the team should know their jobs, but understand they have to work together and overlap skill sets to get the most out of all marketing channels.
When that happens, you’ll find your audience starts to build naturally, and it will become even easier for your business to stay on top.