First, I ask them to perform a variety of brand searches for their company (Brand, Brand + Reviews, Brand + Scam, etc.). Then I ask if they see results they’d rather not. Most companies do and one way to push those down is to get social profiles ranking in SERPs via social SEO.
Next, I ask them to go to each social profile and perform searches for keywords relevant to their business. More often than not — much more in my experience — they are being outranked by far weaker brands. Search within social networks is much less advanced than Google/Bing and more prone manipulation, which means you need to practice social SEO to fight off the spammers.
So whether these two specific use cases apply to you or you are just plain curious, check out how you can get your social SEO in order in just 12 days.
- Audit Current Social Presence. You can’t optimize what you don’t know is there, which makes auditing all of your available resources the first step to effective social SEO. If you work for a large company multiple accounts have probably been created without your knowledge, some of which may have been abandoned long ago. Fish out everything your company has and make note of usernames and passwords, URLs and whether or not the account is currently being maintained.
- Decide Which Platforms Make Sense for your Business. The downfall of many a company’s social media strategy, your business does not need to be on EVERY platform. You know your customers better than anyone (hopefully) and you shouldn’t feel pressured to join every social network du jour. Choose platforms based on where your customers and potential customers spend time AND where you can provide value in a non-obtrusive way.
- Claim Vanity URLs (Everywhere). Before you start claiming contradiction, this is a proactive move to 1) prevent people from squatting on your brand name and 2) ensure you have a consistent vanity URL across all platforms should you choose to expand your social presence. As platforms burst onto the scene, claim a vanity URL and examine whether or not it makes sense to join the community. If it does, you’ll already have a URL ready to go!
- Create Social Design Assets. Once you’ve decided on the platforms you want to participate on, it’s time to spruce each of them up. Each social platform provides different options for images and profile pictures and you don’t want to look like an amateur by having poorly sized, pixelated photos or — heaven forbid — platform stock imagery and blank backgrounds. You wouldn’t launch your website with subpar design assets and you shouldn’t launch a social profile with one either.
- Optimize Your Social Profiles. Taking the time to optimize each of your social profiles is a very important step in getting them to rank in traditional search and within each network’s ecosystem. Make sure each of your profiles contains keywords relevant to your business and a link back to your website. For social platforms that allow it, linking to each of your other social platforms helps search engines connect all of your social dots.
- Don’t Forget About Google+. Google+ as a platform for social engagement is still a dud for many verticals, but it is absolutely wonderful for SEO. There are some juicy do-follow linking opportunities in the profile, as well as opportunities to show up in personalized results. The conspiracy theorists out there will also tell you that it never hurts to get in bed with Google, and when it comes to Google+ and social SEO, I am inclined to agree.
- Claim Presences on Google+ Local/Yelp/Foursquare. For businesses with a physical location, local search will be your best friend if you take the time to optimize your local profiles. By providing keyword-rich descriptions and accurate business listing information, you will be in a much better position to have these social/local sites rank.
- Add Social Icons to Your Website. Every time I see a business invest time and money into setting up social media profiles and not linking to them from their website, I shake my fists in frustration. People (and search engines) who come to your website and engage with your brand are the most likely to follow you on social platforms, and every page of your website that doesn’t have social icons is a wasted opportunity to convert those people.
- Add Social Sharing Buttons/Widgets to Your Website. Similar to the last step, it pains me when I see a company invest their time and money into creating really compelling content and then not make it easy for their users to share it. Large, floating social sharing bars probably aren’t needed for every page of your website, but making it easy for people to follow your brand or share your content should be a priority.
- Use Your Brand and Target Keywords in Posts. If you want your profile or individual posts to rank for your brand and desired keywords, one of the best ways to make that happen is by mentioning them frequently in posts. This can be especially impactful on more open platforms like Twitter and Google+, where Google has an easier time crawling public pages.
- Set Up Social Listening. There are lots of people talking about your brand and if you’re not doing active social listening there is a good chance you have no idea what they are saying. Is there a common problem people have with your business? Are there satisfied customers you can leverage for reviews? If you’re not listening, you may never find out.
- Get Your Analytics In Order. Want to know which pages on your website are driving the most social shares? Or how about where most of your social traffic is coming from? If you don’t have your analytics set up properly, good luck! Social event tracking and custom segments should be a requirement, not a wish.