It’s been 23 years – and counting – since the advent of the search engines Excite (1993), Yahoo (1994), and Google (1997) revolutionized the way information was sorted and found. Basing their results on keywords and optimization analytics, the intention was to give their users the best possible experience.
Enter SEO, the business of bringing customers to your door by improving the way you rank with those search engines. Unfortunately, because algorithm updates were few and far between, it left the door open for less than ethical (black hat) techniques, like excessive tagging and spammy backlinks to manipulate rankings.
Nowadays, the giants of the Internet (like Google) have it down to a science. Whenever there are elusive tactics introduced (to circumvent honest ranking results) they are swiftly smacked down, and we experience abrupt shifts in the rules and regulations. This works to reign in abusers, but unfortunately it also takes the good guys (white hat) down as well; hence the ever-changing SEO industry must adapt its capabilities to the shifting wind, all in the name of making sure your customers can find you.
Enter social media optimization (SMO) – the next generation of search strategy. Let’s take a look at several reasons why social media is more important to your business than you realized.
- Visibility is crucial
Social media optimization should be a part of any SEO efforts you’re making to market your business online. People may find you by typing a couple of words into search boxes, a referral link from someone else, or looking for you by your company name when they already know about you. If you don’t have a website, of course that’s going to be a challenge, and if your site has been penalized it can drop off the first page of the SERPs faster than a speeding bullet.
- Social shares count
When people share your name or things you’ve written it’s beautiful – the best of all worlds. Be careful that you aren’t just gathering links indiscriminately because if there’s no relevance or value when people arrive on your page it can result in unfollows, which decrease the authority of your name. Don’t go overboard, 1000 followers with a good reputation are better than 50,000 just exchanging links for the sake of SEO.
- Engagement is gold
Why would you spend time and money to put your service or product in front of a potential consumer – and then not respond when they connect? Whether it’s your Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram – engage with the person who has taken the time to reach out! A mere ‘like’ or other ‘high five’ could be a customer peeking in the window. That’s the point, folks. No response is another path to being unfollowed, which can also put you on the search engine’s radar for being a link gatherer rather than an honest enterprise.
- Keywords aren’t everything
Overuse of analyzed keywords on your pages is not only redundant and boring, it hurts your credibility. Just like the saying a rising tide lifts all ships, when content is informative and makes sense its share-ability factors go up – and so does the authority of your site. In 2013 Google first introduced the Hummingbird algorithm. Essentially it meant that they were now paying attention to the ‘meaning’ in a search query more than just specific words. This conversational search allows people to ask their real question to receive relevant and on-point results; i.e. are daffodils toxic for pets vs. daffodils poisonous.
- Online groups and forums
Nobody is going to question the importance of you having a proper LinkedIn profile, but you may not have noticed the industry-specific groups you can join there. Missed opportunities in life are many, and so when you have one smack dab in front of you – be sure to jump in and participate. It’s a great way to meet like minds (who have followers too) when you may not otherwise have the chance to connect in person.
- Expanding your reach
Okay, so you have a blog, and you post a few times a week. That’s awesome and great for your devotees – as long as you keep it in their lane. Why do they turn to your company, what would they like to know if they could ask, what’s new in your industry? Now that you’ve published some interesting content – make sure everyone knows! Share it with your social connections via a snippet about the post with a link so they can visit and read the entire article. Be sure your blog has an RSS Feed for those visitors who want to be kept informed as you build your blog.
- ‘Be’ the source
Just because you don’t use Twitter or haven’t set up a Facebook page, it doesn’t mean you don’t already have a presence on the web. Surprised? Remember, other people may have mentioned you, and former customers may have posted a review. It’s time to take control, load up your own channels and make certain people see and hear what you have to say!
Laura O’Donnell writes smart content on behalf of the digital marketing experts at The Marketing Zen Group. As an avid writer and learner, she loves to use her skills for engaging others in important topics in creative and effective ways. When she is not working, she loves meeting new people, traveling, and bringing her Pinterest dreams to life. Find her on LinkedIn.