Social Media Optimization – Grow the Social Media Presence of Your Business in 5 Easy Steps
In December 2010 Google (and Bing) publicly admitted that it uses social signals from websites like Facebook and Twitter as part of its evaluation of search ranking. Some of the primary social signals used by Google include the number of Facebook likes, shares, and comments, as well as the number of tweets and retweets to a given URL. Moreover, Google looks at the social influence of the person or persons who like, share, or comment on a Facebook post and tweet or retweet a link on Twitter.
Social influence has become an increasingly popular topic as it relates to the impact of social media on search engine ranking. In fact, companies such as Klout and Kred have raised millions of dollars and have partnered with search engines such as Bing to measure social influence with a numerical score. The numerical score takes into consideration a number of factors, including how many Twitter followers you have, how many likes and / or friends you have on Facebook, as well as more complex things such as how you interact with your followers and how they interact with the content that your share through social media. The most important thing to understand for purposes of this book is that social media appears to be playing an increasingly important role in how search engines like Google and Bing rank businesses in local search results.
Although social networks like Facebook and Twitter remain important for purposes of managing your social presence and sending important signals to Google about your social influence, Google’s launch of Google+ in 2011 changed the game in terms of where it makes sense (for LSEO purposes) to spend most of your time. Indeed, Google’s launch of Google+ made a clear statement to the SEO community (and businesses and people across the United States who care about ranking on Google search) about the important role of social media presence and influence on search ranking. Note that as of January 2013 Google+ is the second largest (500+ million members) “social network” behind Facebook (over 1 billion members). Google has openly said that it allows social information it acquires from Google+ and other social networks to influence search ranking. It can also be logically assumed that Google favors its own data from Google+ over data from other social networks and that over time social data from Google+ will become increasingly favored over alternative social networks. Until Google+ becomes the #1 largest and most influential social network in the world it’s important that you don’t ignore the powerful social signals that both Facebook and Twitter send Google, which Google in turn allows to influence search ranking.
You must increase your social media presence and build connections with social media influencers in order to proactively leverage social media to improve your local search ranking. Below is a list of 10 easy steps to grow the social media presence of your business starting right now! Note that this chapter does not cover Google+ Local since it’s covered in detail in Chapters 2 and 3.
Social Media Optimization: Step 1 – Open up a Twitter account and create a Facebook Business Page for your business.
Sign-up for a free Twitter account at http://twitter.com/signup.
Sign-up for a free Facebook Business Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/create (select the local business or place page category at sign-up – see below for example).
Social Media Optimization: Step 2 – Build Your Twitter Followers
The key to building your Twitter following is to search and find Twitter users in your related business or talking about things related to your business or location. The easiest manual way to find new users to follow is with Twitter Search, located at http://twitter.com/search-home (also available from your main Twitter account page as shown below once logged-in).
To build your social media presence and influence begin by finding people in your industry or talking about your industry. For instance, if you are an HVAC professional:
- Search first using a broad keyword related to your industry, such as HVAC. The results listed above represent Twitter users who have recently mentioned HVAC on Twitter.
- Identify Twitter users that you’d like to follow and click the users profile picture or alias (typically a personal or business name). The users profile pops-up and all you have to do is simply click the “follow” button to add that person to your Twitter feed. A Twitter feed is much like what you see above – it’s a list of tweets from all of the people you follow starting with the most recent tweet. Once you build a list of people to follow you want to use Twitters various tools to respond, retweet, and generally interact with people. Indeed, many of the people you follow will inevitably follow you back (meaning your tweets will now appear in their feed), which is an important social signal for purposes of Google search rankings.
Note that automated tools exist such as Tweetadder (located at http://www.tweetadder.com/) to help you automate the process of following or unfollowing users on Twitter and closely monitoring users that follow you back (or not). One of the benefits of an automated system is that it allows you to spend more time delivering valuable Tweets (BTW – if you aren’t sure what a Tweet is – it’s a statement, thought, or link up to 140 characters in length that typically answers the question what are your doing or what are you thinking).
Keep in mind that you should conduct broad and narrow searches through Twitter search to find new users to follow. Moreover, make sure to use location-based keywords, especially if your business is limited in geographical reach. The more related your audience is to your particular profession or to the type of content you share most often on Twitter the more likely your social media presence will be engaging and influential.
Social Media Optimization: Interact often and consistently with socially influential Twitter users
Social media presence is defined by among other things how many followers you have on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Social media influence on the other hand looks at among other things how you influence and engage with people and the level of social influence of the people you influence. The most popular metric used to discuss social influence is the Klout score (see example below).
Klout, located at www.klout.com, is a free website that provides insights into social influence. Everyone on the Web has a Klout score from 1 to 100 with 1 being no influence and 100 representing extreme social influence (President Obama has a Klout score of 99, while Angel Investor Josh Kopelman has a Klout score of 81). In general, individuals with Klout scores over 60 are considered to have significant social media influence (aka, Klout). The higher the score the more perceived social influence. While it’s not clear exactly how Google calculates social influence for purposes of ranking, Klout provides an excellent relative gauge of social influence for purposes of identifying what users to follow on Twitter.
The easiest way to incorporate Klout Scores into Twitter Search (thereby making it much easier to follow and engage with social influencers) is by installing a Klout browser plug-in to your browser.
Download the Klout plugin for Google Chrome – click here.
Download the Klout plugin for Safari (Apple) – click here.
Download the Klout plugin for Firefox – click here.
Once you have integrated Klout scores into your Twitter search experience you should identify social influencers within your particular profession or area of interest and follow / interact with them often. Build relationships with social influencers and watch your Klout score go up over time along with your search rankings.
Social Media Optimization: Step 4 – Generate Likes to Your Facebook Business Page
There are at least three primary ways to generate more likes to your Facebook Business Page.
- Promote your Facebook Business Page in ALL of your traditional and digital marketing materials. Add “Follow [Insert Business] on Facebook” to your e-mail signature and the e- mail signature of all your employees and family members.
- Invite friends from your personal Facebook account to like your Facebook Business Page for free. Simply go to your Business Page, click the Build Audience link, and from the dropdown menu select Invite Friends (take note of the Share Page link and the Create An Ad link). Once you click invite friends Facebook will give you the option to send a customized personal “like my page” invitation to one or more of your friends. Alternatively, you can click the Share Page button and Facebook will allow you to post a customized personal “like my page” message to your personal Facebook Wall / Newsfeed.
- Create an ad on Facebook. Click the Create An Ad link (see image above) to advertise your page to other Facebook users. Facebook provides you with extensive targeting functionality and there is no limit on how many “likes” you can accumulate to your page through the Facebook Advertising system. However, advertising on Facebook is potentially quite expensive (cost per click can exceed $1.50) so be careful and do your research before you begin advertising.
- Join groups. Facebook users have created tens of thousands of groups on just about every topic you could imagine, including your profession and areas of interest. Use Facebook’s Graph Search (located in the top navigation bar of your Facebook account (see image below) or go to http://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/groups to search for groups to join. Note that some groups are public, while other groups are private (require invitation to join) or require approval to join.
Social Media Optimization: Step 5 – Maximize interaction and engagement on your Facebook Business Page
Promote exceptional content and add significant value to your audience and it will grow naturally. Slow but steady wins the race. Your Facebook Business Page is an extension of your business – it provides your audience with real-time access to you or your social media manager and serves as a resource for your business to share valuable information with existing and prospective customers. Facebook Business Pages that generate the most Facebook likes tend to hold Facebook-only contests for customers, post special coupons and deals exclusive to Facebook users, share interesting insights and factoids, entertain, uploads lots of pictures and videos, and generally engage followers consistently, generously, and with respect.
You should also ask for feedback on your business and be open-minded to criticism and constructive feedback. Your Facebook Business Page is an outstanding platform to address customer questions and service issues – make sure to login to your account regularly and / or set- up notifications for Facebook to send you a text message or e-mail every time someone posts something to your page.
You should post new content to your Facebook Profile Page no less than three times per day. Content can include practically anything and should not only be about your business. In addition to posting specials, announcements, and features about your business you should also build up your page as a resource. In order to be a resource you need to provide broad expertise within your profession and post content that is consistent with your breadth of knowledge. For instance, if you are a personal injury attorney you can post information about recent news articles on personal injury law, risks and rewards of litigating personal injury cases, common mistakes made by personal injury lawyers, as well as links to the top rated personal injury lawyers within a given market or links to experts that deal with specific injuries such as qualified brain injury experts, etc. The idea is to add value beyond your immediate product or service – you will increase engagement and interaction on your page by posting often and by avoiding the itch to always be selling something.
So when push comes to shove improving your search ranking in local results comes down to optimizing specific local SEO ranking factors. Here you’ll find detailed information on local search engine optimization ranking factors, including:
Start here with an Introduction to Local Search Engine Optimization.
Local SEO Education:
At LSEO we take great pride in helping you execute your local SEO strategy – if we can help, contact us. If not we still want to help you.
Local SEO is a process that includes a series of steps. We conceptualize each step as a “Ranking Factor, which Google used to determine whether to rank your business over the competition. Optimize each ranking factor and you’ll be in the drivers seat. Click any of the links below to learn more about Local SEO.
Ranking Factor #1 – Google Business Listing Optimization (formerly Google Places and Google+ Business)
Ranking Factor #2 – Business Reviews (Quantity, Velocity, Sentiment)
Ranking Factor #3 – Local Link Building (Quantity and Quality)
Ranking Factor #4 –Content (Quality, Quantity, Resource Laden)
Ranking Factor #5 – Local Citation Management (Consistency of NAP Information)
Ranking Factor #6 –Social Media Signals (Size of Audience; Quality of Engagement)
Ranking Factor #7 – Avoid Negative Ranking Factors
Ranking Factor Bonus – Small Business Local SEO Tips from 15 Top SEO Experts, including Bruce Clay, Neil Patel, David Mihm, Matt McGowan, Chris Boggs, Christoph Cemper, Marcus Tober, Matt Bailey, Andrew Goodman, Eric Enge, Thom Craver, Todd Malicoat, Fili Wiese, and Chris Boggs.
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