SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Social Media are two buzzwords we always hear about in the Internet marketing industry. Yet you might be wondering, what are these exactly and how do they benefit my business? Are these separate? Can I make a marketing campaign out of them?
SEO has been around since mid-1990s and the techniques of ranking in the SERPs (search engine results pages) have evolved over the years, with Google and other search engines getting smarter and smarter in making sure that no one plays tricks on them and ends up ranking when they’re not really the most suitable website for those keywords.
For years, SEO specialists and Internet marketers have been talking about on-page optimization and the importance of link-building, or having your website link published on other sites.
The point of all these is that your website must be an authority figure or is something that is worth visiting if other websites are linking to you.
There have been many techniques that used to work around this, like putting your website in link farms, exchanging links with others and so on. Search engines have gotten smarter and will ban your site if they find out that you’re in link farms, exchanging links with sites that are not relevant or are just collecting links purely for SEO purposes.
Link-building is still vital for your website to be ranked by search engines. It’s just that they are now stricter in terms of the quality of backlinks your website has. Nowadays, it’s crucial to build your links as naturally as possible to make sure that your website doesn’t get penalized by the search engines. They want to make sure that the results they are giving their users are the right match for what the user is looking for. And this is ultimately what we all want, right?
Start building links naturally …
A great way to complement your SEO campaign and build links naturally is via social media.
What is social media exactly?
According to Wikipedia, “social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.
Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many).” These include social bookmarking sites, networking sites, micro-blogging sites, video-sharing sites, photo-sharing sites and blogging platforms. Some popular examples are Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, Flickr, Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon.
Know your target audience
What social media offers is an opportunity to know who your target customers are and engage with them. With it, you can build a community, establish your brand with your target market and monitor the product’s reputation. While measuring the ROI of social media is not as straightforward as with SEO and PPC campaigns, the right usage will yield potentially great results for your brand, as well as for your bottomline. Also, it is while conversing and watching what your audience does that you know what keywords to pick to optimize your site and improve your SEO strategies.
… and get more traffic!
Social media users share links that they find interesting or useful and the bigger the network that you have, the higher the possibility of your website or blog being shared with their online friends and followers. If you post valuable content on your website, it’s likely that other users will link to you, or at least share your link with their own network. So the greater your exposure is, the more traffic you get and the more relevant inbound links your website will get.
Some social media sites like Twitter and YouTube have a no-follow tag, so technically speaking, that should have no SEO effect on your website.
However, the link value for this is debatable as these links do get picked up by the backlink checker of search engines and no-follow still allow spiders to cache and index.
In any case, the value of social media should not be underestimated as these are still great ways to drive traffic to your website and used well, can be more effective than purely SEO campaigns. I say this because a user coming from your social community is in a good frame of mind already, with positive impressions of you and your brand. This makes them more likely to convert to your website.
And of course, for those still obsessed with their Alexa rankings, the more traffic you get, the better your ranking is!
An Alternative to Highly Competitive Keywords
Another way for social media to complement your SEO campaign is if you are targeting very competitive keywords.
When a site is hard to rank due to high competition, it would be easier to place it higher on SERP via social media.
For example, you have a new design firm and your website is nowhere near the first page for the highly competitive keyword, “website design”. What you can do is to post a comment on Digg about your Design Firm using the keyword “website design”, and then because Digg (and most of social media sites) ranks well in search engines, it’s very possible that they will show it on top of the SERPs.
So even though your website is not ranking yet, your Digg comment came up on top, and with that, a link to your website. It’s almost as good as having your website rank!
Social media sites are more easily crawled by the search engines because they have a lot of fresh content and human interaction, which signals Google and others to visit them more often.
These are just some of the ways that social media affects SEO. It actually just makes your life as an internet marketer easier because:
- It makes SEO broader in terms of techniques and strategies.
- It allows more room for experimentation and testing.
- And lastly, it challenges the search engines to always update their algorithms to ensure that no black-hat SEO people are taking advantage of these free tools! This is great for both marketers and users as we can really focus on what our brand is all about and what our user needs and wants, and not have to compete and worry about the darker side of SEO.
So don’t treat social media as completely separate from your SEO campaigns. Make sure you integrate them with your SEO strategies, use them properly and you will reap the results of your work – that is, be very visible and popular in the web and search engines.
Author: Internet marketing expert and best-selling author Susan Sweeney is devoted to helping you do more business online. To learn how to register for her free Internet marketing articles, visit www.susansweeney.com
© 2009 SusanSweeney.com
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