When it comes to your inbound marketing team, no one person or niche is an island. In other words, everyone (SEOs, developers, marketers, social media managers, etc.) must work together and integrate skill sets if you hope to get the best possible results from your campaigns. This is especially true in regards to social media marketing (SMM) and SEO as they directly influence each other.
Evolved social media managers understand they should employ some basic SEO strategies to not only get more out of their own efforts, but to enhance the team’s overall campaign. In fact, now that Google and Bing reference social network factors when ranking search results, the lines between SEO and SMM are more blurred than ever.
However, if you’re a social media manager who’s had your head happily stuck in the sand of the social world, you might be unaware of some of the basic SEO strategies you can use to boost search rankings. In that case, here are seven simple SEO tips you can start using today to drive more traffic to your sites and social pages and to get on the good side of your resident SEO.
Even the most SEO-illiterate social media manager has undoubtedly heard of keywords. Just as keywords are used in blogs and on websites, you can incorporate them into your social content to make it easier for interested users to find your stuff and to get the attention of search engines (remember, everything in social media now influences search results).
A good place to start gathering some useful keywords is by asking your SEO. They should already have a list of keywords the campaign is targeting and you can simply include those into your posts. However, if you’d like to take matters into your own hands, you can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to pinpoint other relevant keywords. Just keep in mind the most searched words aren’t always best as they come with a lot of competition, so sometimes it is smarter to choose lower volume keywords that more specifically match your niche and are not as competitive.
When using your keywords, try to incorporate them into your titles as much as possible as they carry the most weight in the “eyes” of search engines. Sometimes this can be a pain to do when you’re trying to come up with something catchy, but it’s worth the effort and, with a little creativity, you can use your keywords and have a captivating title.
Analyze the Data
SEOs typically track data to see what’s working and what’s not, but did you know you can track social media traffic — specifically? You can do this by creating a custom segment in your Google Analytics report. Just go to your dashboard, click on “Traffic Sources,” and “create a new advanced segment.” From there you can add your “sources” for the new segment, which should include all the social networks you associate with. To make sure the program accounts for all traffic, just use the networks’ names (e.g. Facebook) and not their URLs (e.g. Facebook.com).
Google Analytics is great tool because you can track the success of the links you have posted. Not only does it show the URL, but it also show numbers of visits, page views, and the average amount of time that people stay on your page.
After your new social media segment is set up, you can compare it against all your other traffic. This is great for seeing how social media activities influence overall traffic and for finding ways to improve.
Choose the Right URL Shortener
Long URLs are annoying in social media and, especially in the case of Twitter, take up too much room. Social media gurus have long used URL shortening tools to abbreviate them; however, not every shortening program is created equal. It’s important to use a program that uses a 301 redirect back to your original URL, so you keep all the valuable link juice. Also, some tools, like bit.ly, even offer analytics (for free!) and have a pro-service, which allows you to use the same abbreviated domain on all your links while providing more detailed analytics.
Bit.ly is a fantastic tool, but I highly recommend using Goo.gl. It’s the most straight forward URL shortener. It shows you URL, the short URL and number of clicks all on one page.
Provide Social Buttons AND Links
Naturally, you understand the importance of including social buttons on all your content, but you can also add widgets or easy-embed direct links alongside your social buttons too. With this strategy you’re covering all your sharing bases as it is simple for people who aren’t involved in social media to share your stuff, and it’s a quick way for anyone to let others know about content in a more traditional way.
Social share buttons usually look like this, enabling users to share your content with their network of friends.
Set Canonical Links
Just the word canonical makes you want to ignore this tip altogether, but don’t move onto suggestion six just yet as this one is not nearly as complicated as it seems.
To put it simply, a webpage often has several different URLs if the page is accessible through more than one access point. This can make it difficult to reap the full benefit of a page’s link juice if it is dispersed among multiple URLs (even if they visually direct to the same page). Additionally, it makes it harder to track the analytics for a particular page, which you’ll want to do accurately when monitoring social campaigns.
Thus, you have to choose your canonical (preferred) URL and indicate it as such to search engines by including the “rel=canonical” tag to the <head> section of non-preferred URLs. Similarly, you can use a 301 redirect to send traffic to the target URL. Whichever method you choose, Google has detailed instructions on the correct way to set them up.
Check Site Speed
Although speed testing the site may not fall under the social media manager’s duties, it’s important to get with the development team before launching a new contest or campaign to ensure the site can handle the potential increase in visitors. Also, speed is considered in search rankings, so it is simply good practice to always keep the site running at optimum rates.
Choose Meta Descriptions Carefully
The meta descriptions you write for your blog and other content has little value in regards to search engine rankings; however, it does have a huge impact on click-through-rate. Essentially, this is your place to “sell” your content to readers and encourage them to click on your link. This blurb not only shows up in listings but also under all the links you add to your Facebook page — those few sentences can cover a lot of ground, so choose them wisely!
I grabbed a couple examples of our Facebook posts. When you read the meta descriptions, they are short, sweet, and to the point. It gives the reader a very quick overview of what they are about to read.
After performing the above seven steps (and more), the most vital part of the operation is to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and to develop a plan for improvement. As always, strive to get higher click-through-rates, more re-tweets, increased shares, more conversions, etc. and now, also focus on getting higher search rankings. Never let your strategies grow stagnant, because social media is a dynamic field that requires constant adjustment.