- Category: January - February 2010
Social networks are definitely one of the hottest trends around and the business world has not been spared its rapid advance. So just how useful are social networks in a marketer’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts and how can they benefit businesses?
To answer this question, we have to first ask exactly what the biggest draws of social networks are in the first place. The answers are fairly straightforward: additional and greater exposure/connectivity and increased traffic (for example, through links to your website) which in turn, helps improve your company’s search engine ranking, which once again spurs more traffic to your site.
Here are the steps needed when using social networks to improve the profile of your business:
Research the sites you want to use. There are the obvious ones in MySpace, Facebook and Digg but there may also be some that are business specific and industry specific.
Once you have decided on your sites then you will need to set up a profile. Make sure this includes as much interesting information on your company as possible and includes a link back to your website.
Now you need to make connections. Firstly start by finding old friends from school, university and previous jobs. It is also a good idea to search for people that are interested in areas that are related to your business and try and build relationships with them.
Get yourself seen. A good way to do this is to go to Forums on your selected sites and join in discussions. If people are having problems that you can help with make every effort to help them, remember to include a link to your site. This will not only increase the validity of you and your business but will also increase your connections on these sites.
Update your profile regularly. Many social networking sites will send a notice to your friends if your profile has been updated and as people are naturally nosey many will come to see what you have done which will increase the coverage you get.
Send out announcements to your friends. If you have some company news or you have a special offer it might be worth letting all your friends know about it, this may bring you valuable business. Remember though be reasonable with this, if you are continually sending out notices and leaving information for friends they will rapidly become annoyed and disinterested which may undo all the hard work you have done.
What to do when using social networks to promote your business:
Integrate your Accounts
One of the most important things you need to think about is integrating your accounts. This will mean that you just need to post in one place and it will appear in more. For example if you have integrated your Twitter account properly then you will be able to post a link on Twitter and get it to appear on your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts among others.
This is great because rather than having to spend hours posting links you can simply take a couple of minutes to put it on your Twitter account. You will then find you get links from all of your social networks as well as informing all your followers on all your networks about what you are doing.
Create a Community
Consider setting up forums on your site where your target audience can ask questions and get answers from your company and other members of the forum. A large portion of your audience makes purchasing decisions after conducting online research, and this will give them one place to find the answers they seek.
It is important to remember that one of the things Google really likes to see is high quality relevant links to your website. This is something the social bookmarking websites can really provide you with. Google seems to really like the links you get from both Digg and Reddit. However it also takes into account the links that you get from other social networks as well.
If you are going to get a benefit from social media sites then you need to make sure you build up a quality network of followers. Next, provide them with what they want they will share it with their network as well which will get you yet more links to your website.
Start a Business Blog
Start a blog on your site with relevant, well-written posts providing topical information about your goods and services as well as links to related blogs and websites. This gives your readers the information they’re looking for and provides great opportunities for quality inbound links as well.
Ensure your Content is Fresh!
Keep your online community growing and engaged with fresh, dynamic content that always gives your readers something new to read and discuss. Also remember that the major search engines will index the content of your site more often if you update it regularly. Use relevant RSS feeds if you have to in order to keep your readers engaged and ensure they come back for more.
Use Targeted Keywords and Phrases in your Titles and Content
Use the optimized keywords and phrases that you targeted in your initial strategy in the titles and content of your blog and forum posts. You don’t have to overdo it, just let them occur naturally.
One of the great things you can get from social networking is the ability to build up a brand. This does not means that you need to bombard people with useless information. However, you can post information that people will want to hear. This will mean you have a greater chance of them passing it on to others and helping you to build a brand and a reputation.
The quality links form your social networks can go some way to improving your own website's rankings however they also have other benefits with the search engines. Many social networks have good placing with the search engines and it may even be the case that they are given extra weight. This can be great for you as your content, if posted correctly could come up high in the search engines from sites like Twitter. This will have a link directly to your website so could get your traffic without your site even being there.
Social networking is a vital component to any online marketing campaign and it should be included but not overused. The best thing about using social networking is that you get advertising for free so if only 1% of the people in your network use your services or buy your products you will still have an amazing return on investment. It’s important that companies wake up to the fact that social media and networks are not going to go away. Disregarding the power on social networking for your business could definitely be at your own peril, so position yourself and your company well.
By Shanti Anne Morais