For many companies, SEO is synonymous with Google. This is not unreasonable, since Google dominates organic search market share at around 65 percent, consistently drubbing its major competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo. Google generates more than 3.5 billion searches per day.
But does this situation describe the whole situation? Consider what is happening within these social media platforms:
- Facebook generates about 2 billion searches a day.
- Twitter generates about 2 billion searches a day.
- YouTube (a Google property) generates in excess of 3 billion searches every month.
- Pinterest generates about 2 billion searches a month.
Thinking about SEO as optimization for traditional search engines naturally, leads companies to strategize campaigns around Google. But thinking about SEO more broadly, as optimization for traditional search engines and for internal social media search engines, opens up much more opportunity.
SEO Opportunity Knocks at the Social Media Door
Opportunity for what? It’s important to remember that the goals of SEO are:
- Generating relevant organic website traffic
- Generating sales leads and/or online revenue
These are the reasons why companies optimize content for traditional search engines — social media content should be optimized with the same objectives in mind.
Executing SEO for Social
The special challenge of SEO for social media is the nature of social media communities:
- When it comes to SEO for traditional search, search engine users are looking for a product or service. They expect to get a sales pitch, and may even welcome one.
- When it comes to SEO for social media, the users there are generally looking to escape being sold. Content that tries too hard to drive website traffic, sales leads or revenue may be very much un
Assuming you’ve done the basics — identifying hashtags and keywords for each social media site that have the appropriate volume, relevance and intent — overcoming this special challenge boils down to a presentation.
- If social media shares are always beating the sales drums, users are liable to be put off. By mixing “hard sell” content with soft sell or no-sell content, users will be more receptive.
- Using the same keyword targets, and promoting the same products and services across all social media platforms may not be the soundest approach, as your company may have a lot of community overlap on your various platforms — community members will get tired of hearing the same sales message wherever they go. Instead, consider a segmented strategy such as:
- Promoting visually interesting products/services on Pinterest and YouTube
- Using Twitter for exclusive sales promotions
- Produce in-depth content for niche audiences on Facebook
- YouTube has very specific optimization best practices that should always be followed, both for individual videos and a company’s YouTube page. YouTube is a particularly fruitful SEO target because companies can “double dip,” gaining organic visibility on both the YouTube search engine and Google. Users looking for complicated products and services are especially drawn to video.
Mobile Makes Now the Time
Although Google dominates mobile search, in an Internet future dominated by mobile devices, social media sites figure to generate a steadily increasing share of search volume.
Broadening the scope of SEO campaigns to include social may involve some fairly significant reworking of internal processes and staffing requirements. In the long run, though, there are two important benefits.
First, applying SEO principles to social media marketing efforts will increase ROI. If the social media objectives are things such as brand awareness or customer engagement, obtaining additional organic traffic and conversions only makes the social media investment more productive.
Second, organizing the marketing operation in a way that facilitates collaboration between SEO and social media specialists improves efficiency and deepens everyone’s understanding. The result will be more creative campaigns that meet marketing objectives on all fronts.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a full-service Internet marketing firm in Chicago that specializes in SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Forbes, Moz and Entrepreneur.