When it comes to using the internet to search – for answers, brands, retailers – the websites that appear in the top results of the search engines such as Google, Bing and Baidu are most often visited.
The term Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is used to describe the process of optimising your brand’s presence within these search engines. Many associate the term SEO with optimising your website, but it’s not just about your website. Social media play a major part in your semantic universe – that is, the universe of words associated with your brand that search engines look through to determine how relevant you are. Search engines have begun to incorporate social signals (Facebook likes, retweets, +1s and so on) to inform their search results.
To determine what results to show, search engines scan websites and social media pages looking for the specific search term. They check how often the word is used (keyword occurrence) and variations of the term (synonyms, density). They then take into account how popular, and therefore respected, that site is. Although slightly more complicated than this, this is the basis of how search engines work. This special algorithm ensures that the person searching sees the most relevant answers.
To bring this point to life, type ‘TAG Heuer’ into Google. Their official website is first, followed by their Wikipedia page (an important and sometimes forgotten part of SEO) and then nestled within the first page of results are their official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
There are simple tools and techniques that brands can use to optimise, and in turn improve, their branded page and communications via the social media channels – and thus be more likely to show up in relevant search queries.
But with an ever growing number of platforms available, which social media platforms are best for SEO? Although platforms such as Instagram are (and will continue to be) incredibly important, at this time their impact on SEO is limited. That’s not to say it won’t change, with Instagram already hinting at improving the platform for SEO.
A QUESTION WE OFTEN GET ASKED IS, SHOULD BRANDS BE PRESENT ON ALL SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS?
In a word, no, but only because a social media strategy takes time and work, so we recommend focusing on the ones that are the most used and most relevant for your brand.
From an SEO point of view, however, we recommend claiming your pages even if you are unable to be active on the page, to stop grey market from claiming them and taking position on search engine result pages with them.
THE BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR SEO
Once you have chosen the channels to focus on, you need to optimise. Optimisation in terms of SEO is essentially doing the things that help push your brand into the right place within search results. We’ve compiled a list of the six things that brands should do now to optimise their social media platforms.
1. USE THE SMO TOOLS PROVIDED ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS WISELY
Social media accounts provide you with areas to feature your logos, your brand name, your description and official website URL. Using these is essential, as it not only helps authenticate your account, but allows you to be found more easily in search. It also allows you to leverage your selected keywords. One of the most important features of Google+ is authorship, which allows the author’s picture to appear next to search results of content they have created. Authorship not only helps improve your search ranking, it ensures your brand is associated with the specified content.
2. VERIFY YOUR ACCOUNT WHEN POSSIBLE
Spend time on Facebook and Twitter and you will notice certain accounts with a blue checkmark against them. The check mark means the account is verified – necessary to prevent fraud and protect the integrity of the brand, company or person in question. Although it is not possible to request authentication on Twitter or Facebook, it is granted with a certain number of followers and an official website associated with the account. Pinterest only requires the website URL to grant authentication. So always post your URL on your social media sites.
3. KEYWORD OPTIMISE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT
Keyword research is essential for website and social media optimisation. Choosing keywords is the first step (you can even use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find related words and see what others in your field are using to bring traffic to their sites). Once you have chosen a couple of relevant keywords it is important to place them where they will have the most impact. Search engines are looking at your title, your headings, introductions, descriptions (such as for videos), and the anchor text – the text you use to add links to related content or pages. Just don’t try to push too many keywords unnaturally into your posts – not only will this frustrate your followers, Google will notice and may penalise you in search results.
4. CREATE CONTENT THAT ENCOURAGES YOUR FOLLOWERS TO INTERACT, ENGAGE AND POST NATURAL INCOMING LINKS
Twitter encourages 80% of tweets to focus on driving interactions with your followers, such as retweets, replies, and favourites. In addition, Facebook audiences tend to respond better when they are given specifics as to what to respond to. Once you’ve built some rapport, you can mix in direct offers or promotions that get followers to take actions, such as clicking on a link or making a purchase from your website. Use vibrant, clear images – described with relevant keywords. Pictures are easily digestible, and watch brands should leverage the power of their images to encourage fans to interact (e.g. asking fans to choose a favourite from a selection).
5. ENSURE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS ARE VISIBLE ON ALL TOUCH-POINTS
Being visible, with a strong, consistent brand presence, across all potential customer touch points is key to branding success. Ensure your social media accounts are easily found across all communications. From emails to receipts, in-store to your website – make it easy for your audience to find, follow and reach you.
6. IMPLEMENT HASHTAGS AND MENTIONS TO INCREASE READERSHIP
Help users find your content with hashtags. Hashtags also make it easy to track a promotion/activity across multiple social media platforms. Hashtags and mentions (tagging someone in your post) give users an easy way to join (and spread) the conversation.
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Source: Europa Star September 2015 Magazine Issue