Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often flighty, difficult, and a bother. However, it is the most crucial process for your business and its continued internet presence. Despite the constant fluctuation of algorithms, user preferences, and search engine quirks, it is something that doesn’t really change as frequently as it appears to. While the minutia of SEO, as listed above, does change, SEO is still guided by the same constants as it was ten years ago.
With the increasing dominance of social media, there are certain aspects of SEO that might change, but the core principles will not. If you can understand these core components and how to implement them into your optimization process, you can set yourself, your social media accounts, and your business up for unprecedented success. All it takes is a little research and a dedicated effort to continue to improve your content’s presence on the world wide web.
What is SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not a new concept, nor is it a new process. Ever since the first search was made on the internet, the same rules that govern modern-day SEO have applied. The key to remember with SEO is that it primarily refers to the optimization of your content in regard to the criteria set by Search Engine Algorithms. These algorithms are the code and the “bots” that scan every piece of content uploaded to the internet and categorize which searches it best fits and wherein the rankings it should land. These algorithms dictate the success and/or failure of your content. SEO helps you better your content to meet the algorithms’ parameters and get the search results and rankings you desire.
Why SEO Matters to You
Without proper, thorough search engine optimization, your business might as well be invisible. In fact, without appealing to search engine algorithms, your business is practically that. SEO keeps your business in the spotlight and makes sure that the content you put time into creating is being given the attention and notice it deserves. SEO can, and often is, the difference between steady success and eternal obscurity. SEO ensures that your business earns and maintains its position as a top search result. When you optimize properly, you can secure the lucrative and highly coveted first page and first result status that your company deserves.
Higher search rankings mean that users are seeing your website or social media profile FIRST. This means that you have an opportunity to make contact and sell before your competition even becomes a player in the mind of your customers. Take advantage of SEO and the potential it affords your company.
Your Business and Social Media
Ten years ago, it was fine if your business wasn’t on Facebook. Google and Yahoo! were pretty much the only institutional voices you need concern yourself with. Fast forward to today, and the situation could not be more the opposite. Social Media has become a cornerstone of the internet and a crux of success. If you are not steadily maintaining your business’ presence on social media, you are in danger of becoming obsolete and dated.
Social Media is a necessity, no longer is it a luxury or an additional resource. Social Media not only keeps you relevant in the mind of key demographics, but it keeps your business connected to target markets and customers in a way that earlier generations only dreamt of. If you are not maintaining a quality social media account on each of the applicable major platforms, you are losing business. It is as simple as that.
Social Media and Search Engines
A common mistake amongst new entrepreneurs and those not well-versed in the internet as a tool for business is to believe that social media and search engines can be utilized independently. Many individuals believe that maintaining a high-traffic Facebook page means they don’t have to engage in any SEO, and vice versa. The truth is far from that belief, however.
Social Media and Search Engines cannot supplant one another. Why? Because they serve uniquely different purposes and they achieve those purposes via similar, but still unique methods. Social Media, for example, is designed to connect in the here and now. Search Engines, on the other hand, can best be looked at as pathways. Yes, they connect the user, but that connection is not the purpose. In this sense, Search Engines are more direct in regard to the buyer/seller relationship between a customer. Social Media is less about the buyer/seller aspect and more about the relationship.
While Social Media and Search Engine Optimization can be performed independently, they become a killer combo when managed together with a shared purpose.
Your Social Media Accounts and your Search Engine Optimization efforts should feed directly into one another. Keep in mind here that your presence on a social media platform and on a search results page should both service your website and in turn your business.
Because both outlets service the same end-entity and results, they should do so collaboratively, not competitively or complacently. In other words, don’t gauge one’s success based on the work done on the other, and don’t assume that one is fine just because you spent a lot of time updating the other.
Instead, remember that each platform serves as an extension of your brand and your website. Remember that Social Media and Search Engines are both tools available to you and that both have the power to attract a diverse and lucrative audience when managed properly.
Post Quality, Frequently
Remember the old Westerns when the tumbleweed would roll dustily into the empty, soon to be abandoned town? That image instills an idea of isolation and loneliness that almost any audience picks up on immediately. If your social media page incites this same feeling, you are in trouble. Your Facebook profile or Twitter feed shouldn’t ever feel like a ghost town. If you really have that little going on with your business, it’s almost better to have no social media presence at all.
Rather, your social media profiles should be updated regularly. Several posts a day or several posts a week at the very least keeps your audience in continuous contact with your business. This means that you are crossing their screens and their minds more frequently than you would via a search engine or email list. And remember to post content that people want to view, not grainy images or over-shared articles from years back.
Keywords apply to both social media and search engines. With social media, keywords are often a bit more straightforward and easier to understand. Take hashtags, for example. These are simple words or short phrases that identify the subject matter of a post and are most frequently placed at the end. This is a good general understanding of what a keyword is, a single word or short phrase that identifies topics within a post.
However, keywords are not always applied via hashtag. When it comes to SEO and even Social Media Optimization, keywords must be placed in a more strategic and less obvious manner. Quality keywording comes from peppering the target keywords throughout an article or paragraph. Identify the subject and sprinkle those target words or phrases throughout to let both search engine algorithms and audiences know the purpose of a piece of content. Just be careful not to overuse keywords because audiences and algorithms can easily tell the difference between an organic word placement and pandering word placement.
Build Your Brand
In line with linking your social media and search engine rankings with your business, you must remember that every account you operate or position you hold on the web is also representative of your brand. Your brand image isn’t an independent variable between platforms either. What your brand represents on Facebook can easily bleed over to search engine rankings or brand image on other platforms. Be mindful of the content you are putting out and make sure that you are doing so tactfully, keeping the message universally applicable across platforms and mediums. The last thing you want is for one tiny mistake on social media to tank your search engine and other social media platform rankings.
Ranking Your Profile
Your website isn’t the only part of your business’ internet presence that can rank on a search engine front page. In fact, your social media profiles can and should rank right alongside your business whenever someone searches for you on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!. Not only does this mean that each of your pages and profiles are performing better but ranking for social media as well as your own independent website helps lend credibility to both your business and your brand. In the mind of the typical user, the more they see Google “recommending” your business, the likelier it is that it is a quality, reliable business best suited to fit their needs.
Social Media’s Evolving Role(s)
As stated earlier, the importance of social media hasn’t always been there. However, the longevity of its importance in the past does not matter. What matters is that Social Media IS a dominant force when it comes to marketing and operating a successful business. If you are not heeding that fact, you are setting yourself up for failure in the virtual marketplaces that social media has helped to create and grow.
Social Media has grown astronomically to this point, and it is likely to continue to do so as hardware becomes more advanced and more available. Make sure that you are doing your best to keep up with social media’s evolving role by maintaining an active presence on the major platforms and keeping your ear to the ground for new strategies, techniques, and even platforms.
Social Media as a Search Engine
As part of Social Media’s evolving role, Social Media platforms such have Facebook have begun to take on some characteristics that were previously exclusive to search engines. Facebook is the most prominent force when it comes to this change.
Though it started as a way for people to connect with friends and family, it has rapidly grown to become a hub for business, organizations, and even marketplace exchanges. Because so many accounts and organizations are connected to Facebook, many users have simply cut the middleman and opted to use Facebook as their search engine when on the lookout for new businesses and solutions. Understand that this means that SEO now also applies to your profile in accordance with not just the major search engine algorithms, but also with those of Facebook and other social media platforms.
This trend is relatively isolated to Facebook at the moment, but it can easily expand to other social media platforms. In fact, social media platforms are constantly adapting to match the experiences and opportunities provided by rival platforms. Take the #hashtag for example once more. While this tool gained popularity for its use on Twitter, it has since become a staple of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube as well.
As an entrepreneur, it is important that you keep on the lookout for and learn how to identify these trends. If you can isolate them and take advantage of certain trends, you can put yourself ahead of the curve. Equally as important, it is crucial that you understand when to let go of a trend. Just because the Harlem Shake was popular when you began your website, doesn’t mean you should still be posting about it now. Understand when certain techniques become outdated and don’t be afraid to move on, your users won’t be.
It’s Not Just Google
Remember, it’s not just Google’s algorithm you are appealing to. While they are the largest search engine, the other platforms still matter. Make sure to check up on Bing, Yahoo!, and even AOL every once in a while.
Social Media and Search Engine Optimization are tools that should be used together. These are not independent variables, and they will not affect your business as such. Keep your eyes and ears on the changing landscape and make sure that you are optimizing your content both for social media and for search engine results.