7 Key Steps to Effective Social Media Optimization
December 2, 2014
in Social Media
In the beginning the whole point of social media was to let web-users chat among themselves about whatever they wanted with the point being it was quick, instant and way cheaper than expensive international phone calls.
Later, social media business sites evolved into ways to attract attention to your product or services and drive traffic to your website.
This is still their main function today, although now some social media sites are starting to experiment with direct sales too.
However, for the most part Social Media Optimization remains focused on driving traffic to your website where users have a chance to find out more about the goods or services being offered and sign up for email listings, newsletters, direct contact with customer service teams, or even to buy goods directly.
Good and effectively managed SMO can also feed into website SEO and help boost SERPs results.
How does SMO work?
The original aim behind SMO was to make your website’s content easily accessible via different social media platforms and other networking sites. The idea was initially to make it easy to bookmark pages, link between them and for portable content that can shift quickly and easily between different platforms.
More recently, as social media have grown in importance, the search engines have changed their algorithms to incorporate social media data into the equation and sites that have a lot of traffic and interlinkages emanating from social media sites are now ranking higher in SERPs.
SMO is different from traditional website SEO in that it focuses less on website structure and more on users’ experience, high quality content and the author’s authority. In particular, SMO pays a lot of attention to audience feedback in terms of how much they share and like the information they see – and justifiably so now that the most linked to pages and sites are ranking higher in SERPs.
The importance of audience feedback from social media was highlighted at a recent Google+ hangout on SMO and SEO given by Mark Traphagen and Joshua Berg. They reiterated that social media signals are a way to filter out a site’s true worth and so reflect more accurately on which sites are proving to be valuable to users.
Dustin Stout also joined the debate recently, confirming that he too believes that social media responses are increasingly factoring into SERPs rankings.
It is not just about the number of shares or likes, or the size of the user’s network, but also about who is choosing to interact with your content and who else features in your network..
Social media generates huge quantities of analyzable data that allows online data managers to refine still further the way in which they perceive users interacting with online content, particularly the when and where and how of why they choose to engage. It is also clear that social media metrics are being used by search engines to gives a clearer portrait of which sites are popular, practical and useful in terms of fulfilling their users’ search criteria.
Be warned: good SMO does not mean excess linking
The great beauty of social media is that you have to be real or your SMO efforts are bound to backfire.
For example, if you randomly link with every single Google Plus community or LinkedIn Group your followers are going to lose faith in your judgement and will rapidly not bother reading your posts, will definitely not share them and may even unlike you or delete you from their timeline.
If no-one bothers to read the exaggerated number of posts you put out there, this will reflect badly on you in terms of search engines looking at whether you are providing useful, usable content, or not, and your rankings will slip accordingly.
If users report you for spam, it can be a long hard slog to prove your worth again.
A far more effective policy is to sincerely engage with specific communities and audiences and really give them the type of content that they are looking for.
7 Ways to REAL-SMO
Focus on Reputation, Engagement, Authority, Leadership, Social, Media and Optimization. In other words:
You have to build up your own reputation as a qualified and reliable source. You can do this by writing your own original material that is informative, concise and entertaining. Or you can curate sets of links to connect with pages that you value highly that provide the information you think your users will want to know. Or a combination of both.
You can also boost your reputation by honestly responding to your followers EVERY time, giving them answers to the questions they want to know, or pointing them in the direction of where else to look.
Encourage your users to share, engage directly with you, and reciprocate by offering their own suggestions for linkages.
Ask for their comments and opinions and to “share” or “like” your content.
Create discussions among your followers by targeting the networks on which they like to interact – eg LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Disqus, or YouTube, etc.
Remember that you can always quote user comments on your website blog, adding another layer of engagement and promoting further discussion.
Make sure there is a prominent call to action on every page of your website.
Become known as an expert in your field by writing knowledgably about what you do and/or sell.
Set yourself up in Google Authorship as a way to build up your authority in your field. Depending on how much and how often you write, when people search for information in your field your name will come up too.
Encourage your audience to share your posts – the more they are passed around, linked to and read, the greater the search engines will view your authority. The same for likes, shares, plus ones and retweets.
Pave the way by being original, insightful and creative – be head of the pack, not the one trailing behind.
This means doing your research thoughtfully, thoroughly and incorporating the best elements and ideas of your competitors’ sites in a totally new, different, appealing and entertaining way.
If this is beyond your scope then call in expert help. Wisdek has a great team of writers who pride themselves on 100% original content!
Add in links to other authoritative sites whose information can add value and another perspective to what you have to say.
Put yourself out there – go out and encourage your audience to follow you rather than waiting for them to come to you. Make your posts friendly, appealing and informative – make your followers believe in your interest in them. And never, never, talk down to your audience or take them for granted.
Engage with the people you perceive as experts so that you can discuss ideas and thoughts and interconnect with them. Respond to their own requests for comments or questions.
Familiarize yourself with all the social media sub-cultures so that you communicate in the right way on each specific platform. Know who follows you and where and learn to speak in their voice. Activity on Google+ in particular would appear to be feeding back into Google SERPs so it is well worth engaging with your audience here.
Maximize your performance by getting all the technical details right – no dead pages, no links that don’t work, or pages that take forever to load or other dead end situations.
Optimize your social media pages and posts so that every element works every time to make it easy and flawless to use – and for the search engines to crawl and index.
Include easy to use subscription options, email and newsletter opt-ins, social media icons and logins and all important share buttons and don’t forget to include the actual number of shares you have received to date.
Use photos and illustrations – they truly can sum up more than a thousand words in one concise image and are very sharable.
Make the most of rich snippets – those are short concise summaries of a page’s content that social media networks like to share. Find out about Twitter Cards, OpenGraph (Google+ and Facebook), Yoast plugin for WordPress and other apps for creating rich snippets.
Optimize your title tags by using long-tail keywords and be sure to use your name in them.
If you stick to these REAL-SMO tips, your social media platforms will be fine-tuned to work in your favor and improve your ratings.
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