There is a lot of talk about death.
The death of SEO. And it’s easy to see why.
Social proofing, as opposed to static back linking, has become a more reliable and genuine way of ranking great content against some of the B.S. that tends to float online.
Not so long ago, internet marketers relied heavily on traditional SEO practices. These focused on the technical aspects of optimization such as keyword count, optimized meta data, using exact match domains and anchor texts, and of course, link building.
If you’ve been around long enough, you know that the largest search engine, Google, got smarter and penalized websites that manipulated SEO best practices.
Page ranks dropped. Traffic took a dump. Those who made money from black hat SEO techniques, had to look for a more ethical way of bring home the bacon.
In a nutshell, traditional SEO practices died, and they died a miserable death.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t be focusing on optimizing your content and your web properties to make them indexable by the search engines?
No. SEO is not dead. But, bad SEO is.
Social optimization is the new SEO.
Social proofing is to SEO today what link building was to SEO several years ago.
Honest link backs pointing to your site from people who love your content is awesome. But Google has found that social signals are an even better metric for rating and ranking the value of content that’s distributed online.
Social votes by real people are ultimately much legit than static link backs.
You can read about how SEO interplays with SMO (social media optimization) and how this will affect your online marketing strategies.
Let’s get into the details of how any small business or online marketer can hack social media SEO.
The four hacks are:
- Applying kickass creativity in content creation
- Getting out there and engaging
- Tirelessly building your personal online brand
- Leveraging some old school SEO practices
Social Media SEO Hack #1: Kickass Creativity In Content Creation
If you are like me, you are tired of hearing passé statements such as “content is king,” “content is key,” “content is everything.”
Of course, these are well-meaning phrases but do not confuse great, unique, compelling content with the production of content just for the sake of it.
Quality trumps quality when it comes to creating content that people will love, share and talk about.
Nothing is original. And with the proliferation of so much information online, you could easily start to wonder whether you should be adding onto the mound of content already available.
The truth is, although nothing is original, stories can indeed be original, compelling and can even convert browsers into buyers.
Developing stories is one of the most effective ways to create content that attracts traffic and converts. Just look around, the most viral videos, for example, are those that tell an interesting story. A story that pricks the core of human emotions such as joy, anger, love etc.
Creating a story as part of your content development is not necessarily easy. But once you understand your target audience- their needs, their pain points, where they are and where they need to be, story creation becomes so much easier.
Stories are more compelling on video or where images are used. But your creativity must also be noticeable in the smallest of contents, including blog and social media posts.
A terrific way to produce creative, unique, and original content consistently is looking at things from a different perspective.
Instead of saying or doing what everyone is doing, go to the opposite end of the spectrum. Ask different questions, take an opposing view, critique.
For example, if everyone is saying SEO is dead, write a post, create an infograph, or even a video showing why SEO is alive and kicking.
Your content doesn’t always have to be controversial. The point is to find that different perspective before creating any content asset.
Don’t forget that social media users are more likely to share content that is fun and interesting. So don’t kill your content’s shareability by making it too serious.
Social Media SEO Hack #2: Tirelessly Building Your Personal Online Identity
Social optimization all starts with investing in your online presence. It doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming.
A great place to start is building your Google Authorship. Setting up your authorship and building your author rank is a sure way to boost your rankings at the search engine results pages
Authorship is an essential metric that Google uses to gauge the credibility of the person behind any piece of content.
Setting up Google Authorship will take just a couple minutes of your time. If you haven’t done so yet, start here.
When you set up Authorship, every time you publish content online, your headshot will appear side by side your content at the search engine results pages.
Just showing up next to your content is a major boost to your EGO reputation and your online authority. Besides, I would trust you and what you are saying more, if I saw a picture of you, wouldn’t you?
Google Authorship impacts your Author Rank. Author Rank is simply a measure of your online reputation and credibility.
The higher your Author Rank, the more credible Google perceives your content and the higher you will be ranked at the search results pages. This is good news if you are selling products or services online; you stand to generate increased organic traffic if prospects deem you as a reputable business.
How do you build your Author Rank? Create unique and compelling content that social media users will Like, share, +1, @mention, tweet and retweet. This type of engagement with your content is at the heart of social media optimization.
Creating kickass content also encourages the ‘who is who’ in your niche and their followers to link back to your site. This further boosts your Author Rank.
Remember that social optimization is less about keywords and more about establishing your reputation among like-minded peers.
Social Media Optimization Hack #3: Getting Out There and Engaging
P.S. You don’t (and shouldn’t, really) spend hours on social media. Have a plan, decide how much time you will spend on these shinny networks on any given day, and make the most of this time. Then get out. Go make some money. Or change the world!
But, I digress…
Google is increasingly depending on social signals such as Likes, shares, +1s, mentions, comments, replies, and tags to rank pages and content authors at the search engine results pages.
It is not enough to create social media profiles. Just as you need to get out of your cubical or plush corner office to actually meet people, you also need to ‘get out’ of your website and engage with others on the online social space.
What does engagement really look like? First, it’s not about you; it’s about those in your social community. This means that social media is not a place to overtly promote your business. This is not the place to spam people with links to your site or landing pages.
Such lack of decorum will definitely tarnish your reputation.
Instead, be a helpful resource within your social networks. Share information that people can use to solve problems, comment on someone’s post, Like a post( if you really dig it), @retweet an interesting piece, share someone else’s video, answer questions, ask questions, act as a moderator in one of your social communities.
You get the idea. Be actively involved in your social media platform of choice.
In addition to sharing your own and other people’s content, reach out to influencers in your niche, and their followers. You don’t have to be pretentious here. Just start by commenting and sharing their content.
Once you warm up into influencers’ circles and you know that your content is absolutely worthwhile, those whom you interact with on social media will definitely start to notice you.
Getting your content noticed via social media means more shares, Likes, +1s, mentions, comments, and replies. This further perpetuates the entire cycle of social engagement around each piece of content you produce.
Google loves social engagement, even better if you are active on Google+. This is a hint to jumpstart your G+ account now if you had neglected it.
Twitter is a terrific platform for making connections with influencers and generating buzz for your content.
Don’t forget LinkedIn, which is equally excellent for meeting and engaging with likeminded people in your niche. LinkedIn is also your go-to social site if you are looking for niche-specific social conversations. Your content is very likely to get shares and comments on LinkedIn, especially if it’s real helpful stuff.
Social Media SEO Hack #4: Leveraging some old school SEO practices
Even as you optimize content for social, you will still need to apply SEO best practices.
One of these best practices is proper title tag optimization. I’m sure you already know that title tags spell out what your page is about at the search engines.
When you post content on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+, what readers see is the title, a brief description and any images included in the post.
An exciting title will encourage clicks from your social followers. Ensure that your titles are precise and to the point; use long tail key phrases to increase the chances of your content being found by a wider audience; place the keywords or key phrases towards the start of the title.
Don’t forget to encourage social sharing from your own site. A simple plugin such as ShareThis allows you to add social icons so your readers can easily share, Like, or +1 your content.
Place just a few major social icons to encourage people to take action. Everyone needs a clear and simple call to action.
A new trend in social optimization is encouraging site visitors to subscribe to your site using their social media accounts. This is completely time saving, as most online users don’t like (or just don’t have the time) to keep creating different subscription accounts for each of their favorite websites.
Making it easy to sign in with their Facebook or Twitter accounts takes the fuss out of signing up for any cool updates your readers want to receive from you.
Tools such as Disqus also make it simple for your readers to leave comments any time they read your posts.
Social login tools do a great job of enhancing user experience when people interact with your content. And that’s something you always want to offer your fans.
Image credit: AniseSmith
Your turn: Which social media platform helps your internet marketing strategy the most?
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By Donna Moses
Donna is a professional freelance writer, who blogs at bizcontentmarketing.com . She loves to help small businesses with their content development and content marketing needs. Donna’s interested in internet marketing, digital trends, and entrepreneurship. When she is not glued to the computer screen, she is lazing with a book on the beach.