3 Ways Social Media Can Help You Show Up In Search Results

Social media serves a myriad of marketing functions. Turns out it can also improve your search results.
Forbes Contributor: Makers, Inventors, Small Business, Forbes
September 21, 2011

Social media is changing the search engine world. The art and science known as search engine optimization is shifting to include social media. There are several ways this impacts your business.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about making sure that your website appeals to the search engines. Typically, that means original and regular content, proper titles and tags in the HTML code itself, and having other authoritative sites link back to yours. Now, social media has become a new category within that specialty because Google, Bing and Yahoo (among others) index or pay attention to social media activity, like tweets and status updates.

Here are three easy ways to optimize your social media for search.

1. Set your part of your Facebook profile to public

As many of you know, Facebook content does not easily show up in Google search results. Some of it does, if you spend time making things public in your privacy settings. But one area that is overlooked is your profile section: the “Info” section, which has an area for website links. You want this to show up in search if you are looking for traffic to your website. If you search my name and Facebook together, you’ll see my profile page with my activities, interests and info, which includes links to my websites. Try it here.

Various studies show that people are searching for companies and brands within Facebook, but just as many are searching in Google and adding the term “Facebook” to the query. If you’ve not filled out that section, you’re missing a chance to be found. This works for personal profiles as well as business pages.

2. Align keywords with social media campaigns

Many companies spend money on pay-per-click advertising and researching specific, relevant keywords to use in those paid campaigns. You should do the same thing with your social media efforts. This isn’t to say that every tweet or Facebook post should be massaged into keyword-rich shape, however, you should at least consider if your social media activity includes important, strategic brand mentions. Tailor your content and keywords to audiences in each social media channel. As you do, people who follow those terms will “like” your post or retweet your message and those are showing up within search results. Sometimes it shows up in Google as “Someone in your network” shared this content.

According to Erez Barak, co-founder of Optify, “When a topic was trending on Twitter that [website’s search] rank improved, then when time passed, the effect of that trend diminished. Again, this is just early stage data.” Optify is a real-time marketing software company that has been part of Twitter’s beta program for Promoted Tweets, according to the blog post.

Also in that post, Rand Fishkin, founder of SEOMoz added that “It’s becoming evident that tweets are exceptionally powerful, as well as Facebook shares. There appears to be some lasting impact to social sharing, particularly if it comes from a wide, diverse range of sources and appears to be authentic and from people with high authority.” Some pundits are calling this Social Media Optimization.

3. Monitor social media mentions

There are hundreds of monitoring solutions out there. Without a tool or platform, it is nearly impossible to keep up with the social media streams. There is simply so much data flowing. I moderated a webinar earlier this year with Optify, so I know their Twitter for Business tool is popular and their platform integrates keyword marketing and lead scoring. A couple of others that I want to mention are Roost and Attensity. Both of them have strong Facebook components.

The main point is to monitor these mentions and then engage. Use them as a way to jump into new conversations. From a customer service perspective, you simply must monitor. You see large brands like Dell, Best Buy, and many others monitoring and interacting via Twitter. I test this all the time. I’ll mention a brand as part of a review cycle and see who answers quickly. You’ll see more monitoring and engagement teams on Facebook and Google+ in the near future. Remember, social media mentions by you, your fans, and your detractors, are showing up in the search results.

Overall, social media is not happening in a vacuum. We tend to see it as dramatically different or separate from search engine optimization and other marketing efforts, but it isn’t. Social media is impacting your marketing activities even if you don’t yet see that impact.