Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Social Media and Search Optimization Integration

Like it or not gone are the days when marketing a web site was straightforward. Complete some Organic Search Engine Optimization, push it along with some Pay per Click advertising and in most cases the web site would experience an increase in targeted web site traffic.
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay per Click (PPC) are still important elements of a Holistic approach to web site promotion. However, with the steadily increasing popularity of Social Media Marketing the addition of Social Media Optimization (SMO) is an absolute necessity, not only to increase targeted web site traffic but Internet users have come to expect some form of Social interaction on web sites. To disappoint a web site visitor is the best way to lose a web site visitor.

Social Media Optimization (SMO) Defined

Wikipedia defines Social Media Optimization as "The methodization of social media activity with the intent of attracting unique visitors to web site content."
Although I agree with this definition to some extent with regards to the use of Micro Blogging and Social Networks to drive targeted traffic to the web site, this definition does not take into account the necessity of various Social Media Tools within the web site's development structure to provide a social environment once the visitor has arrived at the web site through the use of Social Networks.
An alternative definition may be: The methodization of social media activity with the intent of attracting unique visitors to web site content and continuing the social interaction within the web site environment through the use of Social Media Tools to assist with the sharing of ideas and content.

The SMO Process

There are of course numerous ways that Social Media Optimization may proceed with consideration to the above definition. A typical scenario may be something like:
  1. The company's web site incorporates a Blog into the web site structure to facilitate the sharing of information and points of view with their targeted audience.
  2. A Blog post is written on a topic of interest to both the Company and the target audience.
  3. A representative of the company who belongs to various Social Networks creates discussions or micro blogs on the topic of interest which attracts visitors to the web site.
  4. Visitors arrive at the site, read the Blog Post, and would like to share their point of view on the topic, they will submit a comment for additional discussion.
  5. Comments encourage additional dialogue between visitor to visitor and visitor to company.
  6. Web site visitors consider the content worth sharing and may use methods such as Social BookMarking (Digg, Delicious etc) or sharing on Social Networks such as Facebook and Linkedin or Micro Blogging such as Twitter.
As you can see from the above scenario the Wikipedia Definition of Social Media lacks the required web site support of the Social Media Optimization process.

Web Site Social Media Optimization

Clearly there are some Social Media Tools which are required within the company's web site to support the Social Media Marketing Program. The Social Media Tools I consider to be an absolute minimum include:
Blogs: Blogging for business is an essential Social Media activity. Not only does a Blog support Social Media initiatives, Blogging has considerable Search Engine Optimization benefits which enhance the web site's ability to improve search engine visibility and increase inbound linking opportunities.
Social Book Marking: Providing tools to enable web site visitors to book mark your content offers businesses a powerful tool to empower web site visitors to share content within their social circle. Social Book Marking is clearly an extension of word of mouth referral, and can increase web site traffic considerably should a particular content item be well received by the Social Book Marking and Recommendation web sites such as; Digg and in particular Stumbleupon which has recently increased the social sharing aspect of Social Book Marking.
Social Network Sharing: Without doubt Social Media Marketing is primarily carried out on the numerous Social Networks such as; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and although not a Social Networking web site the recent addition to the Social Media mix Google Buzz cannot be ignored.
To further improve your Social Media Marketing Program it is necessary to include methods to facilitate the sharing of your web site content by visitors to their Social Network. The personal recommendation of a specific article or Blog post has a significant impact on spreading the word about your company's views and products which of course increases your business's online visibility.

Social Media Optimization supports Search Engine Optimization

One aspect which is often overlooked within a Holistic approach to web site development and promotion is the interaction and supporting nature of web site elements and promotional activities. The relationship between Social Media Optimization (SMO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no different.
Increasingly a web site's SEO initiatives are supported and enhanced by the Social Media Program. With the recent introduction of Real Time and Social Search SMO has become even more important to increasing a web site's visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages.
There are a number of factors which come into play at this point such as:
Blogging: The Real Time aspect of the Search Engine Algorithm favors fresh content which is supported by regular blogging.
Micro Blogging: The Social Search aspect of the Search Engine Algorithm focuses on numerous elements related to your Social Networking activities. Twitter and Real Time Search is a crucial element in the Social Search equation due to agreements between Twitter and all the major Search Engines to show Tweets in select search results.
Social Networks and Book Marking: The relation of inbound links and Search Engine visibility is common knowledge. Profiles within Social Networks and Social Book Marking web sites are excellent methods to improve the number of back links to a web site.

Search Engine Optimization supports Social Media Optimization

The introduction of Real Time and Social Search has increased the need to consider what keyword phrases are used within Social Media Marketing Programs and also how these terms are integrated into the Social Media content.
Keyword Research: The one thing that has not changed within the Search Algorithms is the fact the Search Engine's use of keywords and how they are incorporated into content to determine the relevancy of a particular Tweet or Blog Post to an Internet user's search query.
Therefore, the development of a Keyword Research Program has become necessary not purely as part of a SEO program but now should be integrated into a SMO program to ensure Blog Posts, Tweets and discussions include keywords which are most commonly associated with specific topics by Internet users.
Keyword Integration: How keywords and phrases are used within your Blog Posts, Micro Blogs and Discussions will have an impact on the visibility and attention a particular content item will receive.
Supporting your keywords with words and phrases relevant to the primary keyword is extremely important to convincing a Search Engine your content item is relevant to Internet users search queries. In addition to this requirement when developing Blog content it is still necessary to utilize some SEO basics such as; including your keywords and phrases in titles and descriptions and to use the H1, H2 and H3 HTML tags to identify the important keywords within your content.

The Last Word

There is absolutely nothing within the web site development and promotional environment that is stand alone. All elements need and support other elements and strategies. SEO and SMO are no different and if you have not been integrating these two methodologies in the past the introduction of Real Time and Social Search requires that to succeed in the fiercely competitive Internet environment SEO and SMO be developed as a unified approach in the future.