It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking these two areas aren’t connected. The reality is that ‘search’ is already baked into social platforms. As the 800lb gorilla, Google has made it very clear that Google+ is going to be a part of and influence its search results, but the connection between search and social goes deeper than those platforms alone.
If you look at the first iteration of Facebook, it was really about ‘people search’. Twitter, while a conversational medium, is based on the idea of gathering together similar ideas via keywords (#hashtags) together. Foursquare, Yelp and related services are based on geo-location search plus keyword (burrito, wine) or category attributes (restaurant, bar, store). Pinterest is a place to ‘search’ for ideas and inspiration, despite that the primary discovery method is browsing – there is a search box and searching for keywords does in fact work.
The lesson here is that you need to think about ‘optimizing’ every opportunity to be found on social media platforms that is relevant to your business. This includes attention to supporting keywords used in all of your social media profiles and multimedia shared (meta data on images, videos, etc.) as well as ensuring your NAP details (business name, address, phone number) are consistent across multiple platforms.
For some time now, social media managers have been ignored by the SEO teams and vice versa. But, working together, both groups can find new opportunities to reach customers and deliver content of value to them.
It’s also important to remember that content comes in many forms, it’s not just creating pages on your website or blog. Every social media update your business makes is content. Before and after photos (Pinterest, Flickr), how-to videos (YouTube, Vimeo), sales or training presentations can be posted on Slideshare/Linkedin, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve done your homework on keywords to include as attributes (titles, descriptions, tags, and other relevant information) when you share content to these platforms.
The social network’s internal search engine which launched in January 2013, is currently only available to about a million users in the US, so while we’re still a bit far from it being widely used, it’s only a matter of time before the rollout is more widespread.
But did you know that Facebook even has its own type of markup (Open Graph) that should be used on webpages and web objects? From a social sharing standpoint, Open Graph markup does allow you to have more control over how your content appears when it is shared on Facebook.
Also important, this markup helps Facebook to better understand and organize content in search:
Clearly, this is on the more technical side of things, so you may have to ask your web developer to assist in implementation here, but it is well worth doing, particularly if your business is local in nature.
It should also be noted that while Bing.com still has a relatively small share of searches, it is still the default search engine for most Internet Explorer users. Facebook is a key driver of ‘social results’ on their platform.
For example, an insurance reseller might look at keyword suggestions or trends related to the Affordable Healthcare Act in their regional market (by city, state) and create an FAQ guide which specifically addresses how it affects both employers and consumers in their local coverage area. This type of content can be created with SEO in mind but shared on social media channels to grow its reach, at least on a local level.
Don’t let the task of creating content intimidate you. Creating an FAQ can be as simple as recording all the questions that are asked of your employees on a regular basis and simplifying their answers into a top ten list. You and your employees are experts in your field after all, use their knowledge to your advantage!
Moreover, establishing an authoritative presence on social platforms may help you gain attention from influential followers who will link to your website content from their own websites, boosting your visibility in mainstream search. This can lead to a domino effect of potential partners coming across your site, or local and national journalists researching their next story and by demonstrating your expertise on a topic, they may want to use your business as an expert source.
Like Facebook’s Open Graph, there are other forms of standardized markup that can be used to help your website’s visibility in search. Schema.org is a protocol agreed upon by the major search engines (Google, Bing & Yahoo) and two other HTML standards have also come into widespread use, rel=”author” and rel=”publisher”.
While both Google and Bing support these tags, Google is using it much more aggressively in search results, as it helps drive content publishers to use the Google+ platform.
In short, if your site has a blog where you are publishing authoritative content, particularly one with multiple authors, you’ll want to learn how to mark up your pages with these tags to call attention to your expertise in search results:
The combination of a ‘trustworthy’ headshot, as well as an author who is in a number of “Google+ Circles” for social proof, has been shown in several studies to increase click-through rates from search results.
Tips to get started with Authorship: