If you have been creating search engine optimized (SEO) content for some time now, you may have heard that all of your hard work is down the drain....that your mad skills might as well sit in a box on a dusty shelf and you just need to curl up in a ball and die already.
Well, I am not sure that is exactly true. There are many places in social media that your skills are still vitally important and today we are going bust that “SEO is dead myth” once and for all!
Social SEO is Definitely Different
People who have been in the SEO world for a long time have brains that are wired differently. We lost the ability to just freely write and are constantly dropping keywords into sentences, even if not doing it on a cognitive level! We would never dream of doing something fluffy and fun that would have no hope of ranking on Google.
Social media SEO is not exactly the same as website SEO. The social algorithms are not as focused on long-tail keywords, instead tending to favor keywords and hashtags that gain wide response from a broad range of users.
We can trace this back to the mission of each form of media. SEO serves Google and the other search engines. Google’s goal is to get the best information to someone searching for a particular topic as quickly as possible. Social’s goal is to be interesting enough that someone will stop their scrolling and notice a post or a profile.
SEO is structured and easy to understand because it is based on computer results. Social is based on whims and kittens, without any real rhyme or reason for why one post ranks more highly than others…or is it?
SEO for Facebook
Because I know that most people consider Facebook to BE social media we will start there. That said, I think that Facebook is one of the least interesting places to use your SEO skills.
Wonderfully enough, Facebook is now allowing the top search bar to index posts based on keywords, so a search using my profile for product development yields the following answers:
- Two pages that I don’t like yet but which have 'product development' exactly in their page name
- My post about product development
- A friend’s post about product development
As you can see I have a mix of “stuff” that pulls up based on that keyword. The nice thing is that they do pull up; the terrible thing is that Facebook’s throttle is in full swing. I have over 4,000 “friends” and know that more than those meager contacts must have posted something about product development.
Action item: You can use upwards of 60,000 characters in your Facebook posts so you can basically put an entire blog post into your status update. That said, if your goal is to get someone off of Facebook and onto your website, you might want to make sure your keywords are in the post and then leave a cliffhanger so they have to go visit your website to read the rest.
It is possible to use hashtags on all of the socials sites but the effectiveness depends which site you are using. On Facebook, hashtags do work, but only within the “rules” of Facebook’s algorithm. Doing a search for #marketing from my account yields posts from my friends, my pages and then one page that I don’t already like (which was not sponsored).
There is no way to search all of Facebook for specific hashtags so it it wise to use them, but don’t count on huge results.
SEO for Twitter
Now we are getting somewhere! Twitter has many more SEO opportunities that we can take advantage of, starting with your profile description.
It is pretty important to know what your goal for using Twitter is. For me, I want to connect with influencers, entrepreneurs, realtors and authors who could buy my products or services. With that in mind, I use keywords and hashtags in my profile that are interesting to my target audience like #sellingbooks, #realtor and author. That way, anyone doing a search for people to follow will find me!
Bonus tip: You can put links to websites or hashtags in your description and they will be clickable. Great if you have a descriptive link like 100FreeMarketingIdeas.com that is easy to read and has a built in call to action.
Here is where your SEO skills will shine! You are probably used to densely packing keywords into a sentence so the 140 character limitations should be no bother. Make sure to use keywords in your posts as Twitter is searchable, and it is fine to use hashtags to make your posts more popular. The neat thing about Twitter is that you are basically calling dibs for that keyword. Doing our same search for product development on Twitter I got:
- A sponsored post
- 4 posts from people I haven’t followed yet
- A picture post which really catches the eye from a company that I don’t follow yet
Any time you post with your keywords, you have the opportunity to share your content, get website visits AND come to the attention of people who have not followed you yet.
Why Twitter Hashtags Matter the Most
Twitter has a very open API which lets developers make products search and use Twitter data easily. That means that there are websites out there just searching for information to use based on users and hashtags. One that comes to mind easily is Paper.li.
As you can see, there are a number of results that Paper.li has used based on hashtags that they think will match the content of the rest of the paper. I did not put them there, the algorithm of Paper.li decided that they were a good fit automatically. There are thousands of websites using these types of searches and you never know which of your posts will match the content they are looking for, but if you use your hashtags regularly, you can be there when they are looking.
SEO For LinkedIn
LinkedIn is weird. There, I said it. They are not super interested in getting great content posted except through their publishing interface. LinkedIn it is more about finding jobs, companies and people. That said, the SEO in LinkedIn is all about your profile and connections. One thing to remember is that you can only see people who are at least 3rd level connections to you. This means that even if you have a high ranking, someone who is not connected to will not see your profile.
I have to say that Shelly Weinstock is rocking the product development keyword. She came up over 9,000+ other people in my search and as you can see in her profile, she uses that exact keyword frequently.
Starting at the top:
- Make sure you have your targeted SEO keyword in your headline. You have up to 120 characters and these should be keyword targeted.
- The next thing down actually pulls from your current employment. A great way to make this keyword targeted is to put a description of your industry in the company name field and then have your company name in the body of the listing.
- Use your keyword again in your summary area and then throughout your jobs as the title.
- Finally, get someone to log into their account and visit your profile, adding your keyword as skill on your profile. Then email anyone you know who might be willing to help too. Having this “social proof” that you are who you say you are is very important to LinkedIn.
Bonus Tip: If you are working on your profile a lot, make sure to turn off notifications on the right hand side so you aren’t spamming your connections with notifications.
It is interesting to note that I have no idea who Shelly is, although I a could give her a big hug for how well I think she did in optimizing her profile. At this point I have almost 18,000 connections so I don’t know even a fraction of them in real life. But having those connections means that lots of people are 2nd and 3rd level connections to me so I get a fair amount of traffic to my profile and quite a few connection requests daily.
If you are thinking of using LinkedIn, please make sure to focus on growing the number of people you are connected to!
Pinterest is probably the most like what we are used to SEO-wise. They use keyword driven search on a number of different levels and there are many opportunities for you to make a big impact.
As you can see, when you do a Pinterest search, the biggest thing on the page is the pins. Pinterest definitely has some sort of algorithm going behind the scenes as some of the pins that they show me have 400+ repins and some have 50 and they are all mashed up together.
You should SEO your pins the same way that you do for Facebook. Pinterest limits you to 500 characters but you can use your keywords and hashtags just the way that you do on the other social sites.
This one isn’t so fun as you have to have the keyword in your name and that is mostly what ranks. I named myself Tara Jacobsen - Marketing Speaker so I am only competing with 7 other pinners for that title. That said, you can SEO the description of yourself or your company to increase your rankings when someone clicks “pinners.”
This is where Pinterest shines for SEO. You can get on back to your long-tail keywords and start making real waves on Pinterest.
- Name your board your target keyword.
- Make sure to fill in your descriptive text with your keyword, just the way you would SEO an about us or product page on a website.
- Pin items that match your keyword, remembering to into the content and add your keyword and relevant hashtags if they are not included when the pin is imported.
Note: According to Forbes, Pinterest pins have among the highest sales per content ratios among all the social media sites.
Well there you have it: some ways that you can use your mad SEO skills in this new world of social media. While it is not as clear cut as doing SEO for Google, there are many opportunities to beat the competition just by doing the things that you do automatically!