It continues to be a challenge to get your site’s content ranking well within the search engines these days, but what about raising the profile of your content found within the social networks? Their internal search engines are also getting increasingly robust, and with so much noise within the channels, it’s important to develop a plan to optimize your social profiles and posts for search.
Creating and executing a social SEO strategy within your overall SEO approach is a key to your success on these channels since your audiences spend so much time on social media. Plus, the social environment is all about sharing and promoting content with each other (think link building!), fostering relationships and connecting with audiences in a more personal way. Leverage your social profiles to improve your overall search engine optimization and increase your opportunities to engage with your target audience.
Social Media SEO: First Steps
When optimizing your website, start by defining your target audience and goals. From this, you conduct keyword research and assign the webpages goal terms and phrases to rank within the search engines. The same process should be done to your social profiles and posts to increase your brand’s reach within the social profiles.
Use your audience insights for your website and products, then determine how these people are interacting with social media. What networks are they using? What types of content do they engage with the most (videos, article posts, gifs, polls, etc.)? What hashtags are they posting? Spend some time mapping out what your audience is doing on social media so your channel plans and communication strategy within your profiles will allow you to grow your brand within these networks.
At Pace, we use tools like NUVI and Sysomos—both social listening platforms—to help measure reach, understand audience behavior and leverage insights gleaned to inform the social content calendars for our clients.
Why Social SEO is Important
Social media channels are search engines, too.
People don’t search for products, brands and events only within Google, Bing, etc. They’re searching similar terms within social networks to better understand a brand, their audience and the way the brand communicates with their followers.
If audiences are researching a product and are on the fence between you and your competitor, you can gain the competitive advantage by not only leveraging beautiful visual content and fun videos, but complementing them with posts and descriptions rich with your targeted keyword phrases. You can also increase your web presence by using the right hashtags on Instagram and properly categorizing your pins on Pinterest, for example.
Social media profiles are a great way to drive traffic to your site.
Take advantage of the ability to build links within your social profiles to send audiences to your websites. While not all links pass page rank, they’re all still active to drive traffic to your site to learn about your products/services/company and allow them to engage with your brand.
Remember to include links to relevant pages on your site within your posts, pins, videos and such, as well as in your brand’s profiles, bios and “about” sections. One of the many factors within search engines’ algorithms is the consideration of how often a link has been shared online. More inbound links will help your website gain domain authority and boost its rank with the search engines.
Likewise, if you want to elevate your social presence, cross-promote your involvement within your chosen social networks on your websites by pulling in feeds, and doing at least the basics of displaying linkable social icons on your site’s header or footer.
Social media profiles are a way for users to easily connect with your brand.
Not only do social media profiles rank in the search engines—which help you stack the search results for your branded content—but they also help audiences understand your brand’s personality.
If your website is an ecommerce site, the job of the product detail pages is to inform visitors about what you’re selling and make them feel confident enough to check out/purchase items during their session. While reviews, strong imagery and relevant information related to the product help, they aren’t always the most engaging. Focus on making your social media profiles fun and on-brand; that way, your audience has the opportunity to find them in search and can engage with them to learn more about your brand and its personality in a more personal setting.
Additional Social SEO Points to Take Note of
Having duplicate profiles within the same brand confuses consumers and reduces credibility.
If your company owns many different brands (think Unilever), then it makes sense to create separate brand profiles (Lipton’s, Dove, Hellman’s) for each social channel. However, for a single company with a single brand, it’s best to have one master account (per country or language). This helps avoid confusion when social searchers are looking for your “official” profile, and when search engines are trying to determine which of your profiles to serve up.
Remember, the job of a search engine is to provide the best results to searchers. If it’s not completely clear which content is right or which profile they should feature at the top of the results, this won’t help your brand’s visibility online.
Not all social signals impact SEO.
While many brands may focus on the number of followers or fans their social pages have, search engines place very little importance on this metric. It’s not the size of any brand’s social networks (since so many fans and followers can be purchased and acquired), but instead it’s the level of engagement in comparison that increases organic search visibility within the networks.
Channel-Specific SEO Recommendations
Note: All screenshots included below are to serve as examples for the purpose of this post. Dove is not a client of Pace. These results can be found within Google by conducting a branded search for Dove.
Facebook Page SEO Tips
- Google’s search results show your Facebook page’s name, the number of likes, the number of people talking about the page, and your short description. As you can see above, the short description is treated like a webpage’s meta description within the SERPs (search engine results page), so explain who you are and the value proposition your page is providing (tips, tricks, exclusive product offers, etc.).
- Your page’s vanity URL should be SEO and brand friendly.
- Include your website’s SEO top keywords of focus into your “about” section so that Facebook users searching for brands within the internal site search will find you easier.
- To help your local SEO endeavors, include your phone number and address information if it makes sense within your “about” section. While it may be truncated in view for users, the Facebook web crawlers can still see everything, so be sure to complete all sections that you can.
May require development help:
- To increase engagement on your page, try leveraging one of the following call to action buttons on your page, which include:
- Sign-Up (e.g. for a mailing list, request for information, or webinar)
- Contact Us (contact form)
- Use App (if your brand has its own app)
- Book Now (if your brand offers services and appointments for consumers)
- Shop Now (great for e-commerce sites)
- Watch Video (link to a feature video on your page here)
- Play Game (for game apps)
- Install Facebook Open Graph (OG) code so optimized titles and descriptions are used when content from your website is shared on Facebook.
- Facebook explains OG as a way to promote “integration between Facebook and other websites by allowing them to become rich ‘graph’ objects with the same functionality as other Facebook objects. Put simply, a degree of control is possible over how information travels from a third-party website to Facebook when a page is shared (or liked, etc.). In order to make this possible, information is sent via Open Graph meta tags in the <head> part of the website’s code.”
Google+ SEO Tips
While this channel doesn’t always get the best press for being the coolest social network on the block, you shouldn’t write it off from your monthly social post calendars. When conducting a search for your brand, you’ll see that your Google+ account (if you have one) still rises to the top of Google’s search results. For this reason alone, you should continue to post to this channel so that your brand has up to date content for visitors to review. Here are some more tips for how your brand can make the most of this channel:
- Google’s search results show the Google+ profile name and the first part of the “about” section in search results.
- Place the most important keywords first in your “about” section to maximize SEO potential.
- Your profile’s vanity URL should be SEO and brand friendly.
- Publish content from your website on Google+ consistently. This is because content published on Google+ is more likely to appear in Google search results than content published on other social networks (Google prioritizes content on their own social network vs. others).
- If you don’t currently have a Google+ page for your brand or business, I recommend you create an account, link your YouTube account to your Google+ profile and immediately begin to post content and links back to your website’s content. It may not be the coolest, but since Google owns it, staying active on G+ can only help your website and social SEO!
- When setting up your account, fill out both your personal and your business profile as thoroughly as possible. These pages will act as miniature websites for your company and your personal presence, so they’re important to complete. They’re also fed into other Google entities, so the more information you can give Google the more it will boost their confidence in your brand.
Instagram SEO Tips
- Google’s search results show the profile name, username and bio. Profiles with a specific keyword or brand name in their naming convention have the best search visibility within the Instagram app and in search engine results.
- Treat hashtags as you would SEO search queries within Instagram to help increase the reach of your posts. However, tagging your posts with appropriate hashtags is much simpler than using SEO search queries on your website. Unlike search queries that feature multiple search phrases in a sentence (all of which have to make sense), hashtags function independently and can be placed side by side in a caption or comment. To find the top hashtags for your photos, check out the platform Websta.
- The only place you can feature a clickable link on Instagram is in your profile. But that doesn’t mean creating and maintaining an active Instagram account won’t benefit you in the long run by “stacking the search-result shelves” and increasing your brand’s visibility within the channel. To drive organic traffic to your site, the key to success is effectively maintaining an active and engaging Instagram account so that followers actively seek out your brand’s website for more information.
May require some development:
- Consider using Instagram’s API to pull content from your Instagram profile to display on your website. This incorporation of user generated content (UGC) will help with your site’s SEO because your pages will be constantly refreshed for indexing and will contain more content to spur engagement.
LinkedIn SEO Tips
- Google’s search results show the company name, username and first part of the description of the brand’s LinkedIn Company Page. Again, include the most important information and keywords at the beginning of your company page description so that it doesn’t get truncated.
- LinkedIn SEO works the same way SEO works on your website. Strategically placed keywords throughout your Company page helps your brand get found by LinkedIn’s search algorithm, as well as rank your page at the top of search results.
- Use powerful, keyword-rich sentences in your Company page description. The first two to three sentences should include your preferred SEO keyword phrases, because after around 155 characters, your description will be truncated in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
- LinkedIn is a great way to syndicate your content and drive traffic to your site by posting links. Create a content calendar, and post consistently. But keep in mind that over-posting can make your page appear spammy, which will result in low engagement with your page and the content you post within LinkedIn.
May require some development:
Pinterest SEO Tips
- Google’s search results show the name and short description for Pinterest pages. As you can see above, the short description is treated like a webpage’s meta description within the SERPs. Because of this, you must include important details about your brand so users can identify it in search. It’s also helpful to include your page’s value proposition so users know what to expect when/if they follow your boards (tips, tricks, exclusive product offers, etc.).
- Include important keywords and incorporate audience search queries into individual Pinterest Board names, Board descriptions and also within your Pin descriptions. And be specific! For example, instead of creating a Board titled “For the Home” and using it to pin everything from bathroom makeovers to top kitchen appliances, break it up into several ultra-specific boards with keyword-rich descriptions like “Modern Kitchens,” “Children’s Bedrooms” or “DIY Bathrooms.”
- It’s best to pin your images directly from your website instead of uploading them to Pinterest from your computer so that the pin naturally links back to your own site. Bonus: Each time your pin is repinned, it creates a backlink to the same source page! Simply uploading an image with no link behind it doesn’t help generate clicks back to your site, no matter how many times the content gets repinned.
- For the content pages on your website, add code so the pin button shows up when a user hovers over one of your images. You may also want to consider adding a CTA to “Follow us on Pinterest” to get your site visitors following your brand page and repinning your content. The more followers you have on Pinterest, the higher your profile and board authority will have within the Pinterest search/filter.
May require some development:
- Install Pinterest rich pins on your site because they’re more visible in Pinterest users’ feeds and will result in higher click-through rates. Like Facebook OG or Twitter Cards, Pinterest rich pins are “pins that include extra information right on the Pin itself. There are 6 types of these rich pins: app, movie, recipe, article, product and place.”
Twitter SEO Tips
- Google’s search results show your Twitter username, follower count, total number of tweets posted, total number of videos and photos shared, and a short bio.
- Try to keep your Twitter handle and username consistent with the rest of your social network page names and profiles. Avoid using numbers in your username so that Google won’t assume it’s a robot or spammy account (unless a number is part of your brand name, of course).
- Search engines pick and choose what brands and tweets they display in search results, and take into account both engagement and follower count. If you want your Twitter account to be visible within SERPs, increase your follower count by sharing great content, interacting with other users and following other people and brands that might be interested in the content you post.
- On the tweet level, the search engines take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or re-tweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter user(s) who shared your link. While character limits exist, it’s all about creating strong social content to help encourage the share/re-tweet.
- You won’t get in trouble if you ask for retweets in the content you post, so feel free to use this as a CTA to gain additional shares, which in turn helps increase your Twitter page’s visibility within the network.
- Remember that hashtags should be used like SEO keywords to help the Twitter community find your content. Hashtag stuffing (just like keyword stuffing on your webpages) should be avoided, because it decreases the value of the tweet and to other users (#no #one #likes #to #follow #people #or #brands #that #tweet #like #this!). Our recommendation is to limit your hashtags to three or less per tweet.
May require some development:
- Install Twitter cards on your pages. “With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experience to Tweets that drive traffic to your website. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpage, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a ‘Card’ added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.”
YouTube SEO Tips
- Within the above image you can see how Google displays the YouTube channel and the best-ranking videos:
- Google’s search results show the channel name and short description.
- The videos that rank in the search results show the video name and a truncated video description—another reason why putting key terms and phrases at the beginning of the description is so important!
- Even though Google owns YouTube, the YouTube algorithm is different than that of their search engine.
- As the title of the video, use search queries/keywords your audience would be searching for within YouTube. If you aren’t sure what those are, play around with Google’s instant/auto-complete search to see what most people are searching for.
- When creating your video description, put the most important information in the first two or three lines so it will be visible in the search results.
- Before uploading the video, change the name of the file to include the most important keywords that will be used in the description of the video. Separate the keywords with underscores like this: “DOVE_BEAUTY_HAIRCARE_SKINCARE…” you get the idea.
- When entering tags for your video, put the most important keyword first to give it extra weight, then add more keyword phrases to help optimize the video for search. If some of the keywords are words that are often misspelled, include the misspellings as tags, too.
- Encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel and to leave comments on your video pages. These two engagement points after a video has been viewed optimize your video within YouTube.
- Use the closed-caption feature, which overlays text on your video to help increase the clarity of the video narration for viewers. Closed captions (which can be turned on and off by the user) can then be translated into different languages. If you don’t already have text transcripts, you can use sites like Captions for YouTube to do the work for you.
- Consider embedding your YouTube videos on your website. This helps optimize them within YouTube and helps your site increase its video SEO.
It’s extremely important that when you’re planning your content strategy you think about not only traditional SEO for your site(s), but also incorporate some social SEO elements.
Use the keywords you want to rank for on your website throughout your social profiles consistently. For networks where hashtags are key factors in increasing reach (like Instagram, where links can’t be leveraged), treat them as keywords. You should also incorporate popular and relevant hashtags with the greatest reach and leverage them to extend your brand’s visibility within your audience.