If your business had to pick just one method of improving the effectiveness of its online marketing strategy, which would you choose – seo or social media marketing?
I ask this because it seems the more you read, whether it be from industry experts or businesses, the more there is a distinct division between the two schools of thought. Some people believe that only targeted seo strategies will bring sustainable organic growth and you get the feeling they’d rather chew off their own fingers than admit to the relevance and importance of social networking. If you bat for the social media side, you probably think seo’s had its day: ok, it was good whilst it lasted, but time moves on. Social media marketing is the future. The thing is, is this division really necessary or helpful? Rather than seeing seo and social media marketing as opposing strategies and mutually exclusive, isn’t it more helpful to see them as simply two sides of the same coin? After all, online marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum: both strategies are used to increase the awareness and effectiveness of your business image or brand. Shouldn’t you, therefore, be making the most of every opportunity available, and using both of them in tandem?
It might cause some degree of pain for traditionalists, but there’s an element of seo in every aspect of online marketing – yes, even in social networking. What businesses should do is harness the power of the social media and use it to enhance and aid your seo. How, you might ask? Well, how’s about this?
Create as many social media profiles as you can.
Social networking isn’t just about the big headline-grabbing platforms Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of them out there. Each of these, however, lowly, has the power to help your business build its online presence as each profile has the potential to rank in the search engines. Create profiles on as many of these smaller social networking sites as possible, but bear in mind they need to have relevance to you and the goods or services you offer. Social networks are platforms that allow you to interact and engage with other users: they’re places where you can build a strong community. Therefore you need to be prepared to put the work in and keep your profile active and updated. Simply joining a network might bring a link back to your website, but it is continued interaction that helps to build the brand and engender that sense of belonging.
Make sure you use keywords in your tweets and posts.
Incorporating keywords into tweets and posts will help to get them listed and ranked by search engine pages. Ok, with Twitter you’re not exactly spoilt for choice as you only get 140 characters, but that’s enough to get your keyword in. Link from your tweets to your blog, video or any other form of content you offer. Posting’s a lot easier as you have more space to use your keywords. Try using them in the title, and write a short description about the content of each post incorporating your targeted keywords.
Encourage users to visit your main site.
The whole purpose of blogging or posting on social networking sites is to encourage users to visit your main site. Unless they do this, you’ll never get the chance to sell them the goods or services they desperately need. When you blog, don’t give it all away at once: keep the sense of mystery and only divulge a part of your content. If you then include a call to action, users can visit your company site to read the rest and also see what else you have to offer.
If you include social media links on your main site, don’t give them too much prominence. Once you have users on your site, the last thing you want is to send them away again. Facebook likes are fine, but not if a user has to click away from your main page to activate this preference. Your main site exists to sell goods and services, and that’s what all the hours of seo tweaking have been geared towards. It’s important to remember that your social profile should be secondary to your main profile: think of it as a gateway to the main site, not the other way round.
Try to influence the influencers.
Every area of life has its top dog – a sort of head honcho everyone looks to for advice and information. They’re the experts and their opinions count. Find out who these influential people are and try to build relationships with them. You can’t expect them to share your content with others if you’re not prepared to share theirs. Search engines value not just quality, but also authority and influence. Getting links from an active influential user will undoubtedly raise your profile.
Make sure you publish your content in a timely and effective way.
No one appreciates yesterday’s news: it’s been seen before and is therefore probably no longer relevant. Facebook, contrary to popular opinion, does have certain rules about the timeliness of content publication. Content posted to Facebook gets approximately 50% of its likes within the first 80 minutes after publication. However, it can take up to 22 hours for that same post to get 95% of its likes. Generally speaking there is 24 hour window for publishing content on Facebook, and its best to stick to this. There’s absolutely no point in publishing lots and lots of content as this will only serve to push your existing content out of the window. Similarly, publishing too infrequently can also harm your profile as you’ll lose that sense of engagement with your community. The final thing to remember about Facebook is that you should really get to know the preferences of your target audience, particularly about when they like to see content published. A recent study showed that those companies, who posted outside standard business hours, saw engagement rates 20% higher than their rivals.