Way back when we were still calling social media “Web 2.0,” I predicted that social sites might take the lead in search. I imagined it would be people choosing results, not search bots. Of course, that didn’t happen.
Still, social media is extremely important in search. Your participation, your engagement factor, and your likes, shares and retweets are all important these days, and they are factors that decide where your site will land in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Today, let’s talk about the ways you can be more socially acceptable, and let’s start with your website.
Have an Interesting Site Design
Is your website ready for prime time? Or, is it sick, disgusting and just plain nasty?
Whether your site is minimalistic with one popping color or professionally designed by a real artist, it needs to be engaging. I’m not saying you need a flashy design, but you need an interesting design. Nobody wants to read or look at a site that just epically fails the imagination.
Think about intriguing things that you might be partial to yourself.
For example, what about Frank Miller’s "Sin City"? Now, against all that we’ve become accustomed to, the movie was shot in black and white. But what made it so darned cool were the splashes of vivid color – Becky’s stunning turquoise eyes, Dwight’s red Chuck’s, or Goldie’s hair. Artistic, yes? Engaging, most def.
Or, what about Seth Godin? His design is minimal – a completely white background with a pop of orange in Seth’s profile picture. Imagery isn’t what drives that blog – Godin’s writing is. He teaches us in succinct bites that we have time for. In his March 15, 2014 post, he wrote:
“But people don't drive across town for ‘pretty good.’ They don't make lists of ‘most convenient to your dorm room’ or ‘works fine if you're around the corner.’”
Nope. You can’t just be “pretty good.” You have to be excellent! Make your design excellent. And just BE excellent for people to notice and want to be so caught up in the excitement of what they’re reading and seeing that they want to share what you’ve done with others.
We have access to so much awesome technology these days and it’s super simple to create videos. I know I have flip cameras, my smartphone, and a tablet computer that are all capable of creating video. You probably have several ways to do it, too.
Does it have to be perfect?
It has to be interesting, for sure. Funny, if possible, and short – 5 minutes or less.
Make videos to strut your stuff, like the video for Poo-Pourri. Just about everyone has seen that video by now. It’s not produced like a theatrical movie, but it’s nicely done. The settings aren’t "Gone with the Wind," but the content is hilarious! They made a disgusting topic funny, and the classed it up by using a British accent. Maybe the actor is British, who knows? The point is they took something unpleasant and made it funny, and in the process sold a whole lot of product.
“Simply spritz Poo-Pourri in the bowl to create a film on the water's surface that actually traps the odors in its porcelain prison.”
Come on, admit it. You’re smiling. Am I right?
Or, think about funny cat videos. Most of them are from home cameras without setting or anything special. The topic of the video is what makes us click. Then, laugh. Who doesn’t enjoy laughing, except someone who’s just come from the dentist? Right?
For example, Cory William’s Little Sparta, is awesome! In this short video, we have a Bengal cat going through its daily routine. No special setting, just a cool rap song that makes us laugh and want to see the whole video. Getting people to watch to the end is important.
So, don’t think you can’t create video!
Camtasia is an amazing software that is very user friendly, but if you’re bootstrapping it, use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie to edit. If you want to get really snazzy, Sony Vegas Movie Studio is still a reasonable (even the platinum version is around $80) and very powerful software – even more powerful than Camtasia, which goes for around $300. (Camtasia is so worth it, if you’re planning to do lots of video and aren’t a techy person. Vegas is powerful, but the learning curve is MUCH steeper.)
The point is, people LOVE to share videos. If you make a video that goes viral, you’re golden and it will boost your search rankings like crazy.
Your Business Card is Crap!
My friend Chris Zubryd is a filmmaker from Los Angeles, whose company works with SMO/SMM using videos He did a video with Joel Bauer titled, “Your Business Card is CRAP!” Great title, eh? That video, which was produced in 2004 and released to YouTube in 2008 for free, quickly got lots of views. By 2014, the short and very helpful video has accumulated more than 2 million views, and most of them were acquired shortly after the video was uploaded.
So, always wanting to know how hot becomes hot, I asked Chris how he did it. He told me he just contacted bloggers in the marketing niche with lots of subscribers and asked for reviews. Once the bloggers became interested (one had connections to Boing! Boing!), it kind of got the ball rolling. A simple strategy, eh?
It didn’t hurt that Joel Bauer was the video’s presenter. Bauer is a world-class marketer who works mainly with names you’d recognize, such as Motorola, Mitsubishi and IBM. (If you haven’t heard of him, you need to check him out. He’s a really smart guy.) The title was killer, and the presentation was phenomenal. The content was important information for anyone wanting to sell anything to anyone emphasizing that the first step is to create a killer business card.
You need a video with killer content, for sure. The quality of the video doesn’t have to be Hollywood style, and it will help you to get the word out about your product, whether it’s physical or intangible. But if the content is boring or just plain stupid, it won’t help you a hoot.
Use Cool Images and Audio, Too!
Remember, we’re discussing engagement and share-worthiness. Not all of us learn or are engaged in the same way. Some people like audio. Others like photographs, written content or interactivity. The interaction part is why gamification is so HUGE now. Anytime you can incorporate an interactive game into what you’re presenting, the better. That’s a rather tall order, so let’s go back to the basics.
Any time you can use any element that you see in social media yourself, you should. If you’re using audio, be sure to include a transcript, since search spiders can’t parse audio or viddy, just yet. The point being – use every tool in the box.
With audio, it’s simple to create a voice recording. Your computer will do it, whether you’re on a Mac or a PC. Then, put your audio into a Podcast. Build those channels of communication up wherever you can, and remember that all of these channels are traffic builders for your website, too.
What do you record? Anything. You can take an article that you have written and re-purpose it for audio. You probably won’t want to read in into the mic word-for-word, especially if you’re using a transcript with it and it’s been published elsewhere (even to your own site). So… Just casually talk about the article’s content. Or, separate the audio out from a video you’ve made. You can split tracks in any video editing software.
A video I added to YouTube in 2007 has more than 26,000 views and is still being watched and commented on to this day. In it, there is a single image and about five minutes of conversation about ADHD from two folks who are experts on the topic. That’s it! No moving parts. It was five minutes of an hour-long course module that I sectioned out way back in the day for my old job. I mean, this is simple stuff that anyone can do.
People love striking images! So use them. How many cat pictures have you seen today? How many inspirational quotes with a great photo behind them? How many cartoons? Use everything to get people interested in your story. Do whatever it takes. Use it all!
Spread Things Around
Don’t think that because you made a video or have a great website with killer content that people will come. The reality is that you can have the BEST website online, and if nobody knows about it…
Use as many avenues that you can to spread the word. Yes, share it on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Yes, post your video to YouTube, but use a brand new title and description and post it to Daily Motion, Vimeo and on Flickr or in Photobucket, too.
And don’t forget to put the transcript into YouTube. Don’t put it everywhere or it will be considered duplicate content, which won’t help you. YouTube alone is good for that. YouTube automatically creates a transcript for every video uploaded, but if you take a look, they’re not terribly accurate. It totally behooves you to go in and clean that up. It’s easy to do and very much worth it. Plus, it’s another incentive toward keeping your video short.
Anyway, tell your friends who you don’t see online all the time. How many friends do you know who have Facebook accounts, for example, that you haven’t “friended”? Or, how many of your friends and acquaintances will be willing to share your stuff with their friends, all over the Internet? How many will be willing to start a discussion about it?
If there aren’t too many, your stuff just isn’t ready for prime time. Go back and do it all over again.
Study interesting sites to see what makes them tick and then incorporate some of their strategies into your own. Watch a TON of videos that are really popular and ask yourself why they are. And realize that the more you do anything, the better and better you get at it.
Never stop trying!
One day, you’ll wake up and find those million visits on YouTube or that 40,000 people visited your site overnight. Or, you’ll see that your blog is being shared and that you’re getting so many comments that it’s hard to keep up! That’s a great problem to have.
Just remember Bill and Ted: “Be Excellent to Each Other!” Isn’t that how great business relationships are built, too? You’re nice to your audience (potential customers or clients) by giving them helpful or entertaining content, and in turn, they will be nice to you by hiring you or buying your products.
Oh, and then, there’s the side benefit, and what we’re really talking about here – your search rankings will improve because then, your brand is worth promoting in their beady little eyes. Search engines won’t promote what people don’t like or are wishy-washy about. They want to give searchers the BEST results, right? So, be the best!
Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at www.MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ so you don’t miss a thing. She’s waiting to see how excellent YOU can be. Pat's last article for SEMrush was "How to Move Sites, Directories, Sub-Domains or Pages."