Optimizing Social Media Content for Search Engines: What Works Best?
The way people talk about Social Media these days you’d think it was a cure-all for every business ailment. But if you’ve taken a look at The CMO’s Guide to the Social Landscape, you might be a little surprised to learn that all social networks aren’t created equal, in other words, some serve your business better in certain areas than others.
The CMO’s Guide to the Social Landscape was a huge success in 2010. The updated version for 2011 was released in March and has made a huge splash, with loads of articles written about it, and people sharing the link infintum. The chart looks at big players: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Tumblr and grades them with a “good, okay or bad” for how well they help your business with customer communication, brand exposure, traffic to your site and SEO.
For this blog post, we’d like to zero in on SEO, which social networks have a better shot at helping your search engine rankings and what you can do to optimize your content. The five which were mentioned for SEO are:
It’s worth mentioning, that these five aren’t a clear-cut easy fix for SEO either.
As Andrew Hanelly cautions, “Don’t count on any of these sites as the cornerstone of your SEO strategy. Though they can help to get your pages indexed faster by Google, you’re better off creating content that appeals to humans, who will in turn share your content in these networks rather than trying to create content for these networks to appeal to humans.”
Later in the post, you’ll also hear from two people who work in the field, David B. Wright from W3 Group and Naomi Schoenfeld from JS² Communications, about their thoughts about social networks as they relate to SEO.
A look the SEO Potential of Flickr, YouTube, Digg, StumbleUpon and Tumblr
Flickr is an image and video hosting website where community members can share and comment on media. In the post, How to Use Flickr for SEO, the author points out that aside from sharing photos, a user can provide each image with keywords and links that make each image more valuable to online marketers. What you need to know is that by doing keyword research, renaming images using your keywords, writing a descriptive title and keyword rich image for each photo, and tagging photos with words which will help users to find your images, you can optimize your Flickr photos for search engines. And be sure too to add the photo page to your website.
The post, 10 Flickr SEO Tips for Amazing Visibility, adds some other worthwhile tips: use your own images in your blog posts, get involved with Flickr groups, add a creative commons license to your photos, use your Flickr stats to analyze sources of traffic.
YouTube, a video sharing website where users can share and upload new videos, is described by CMO.com as being “Very good for building links back your site because the videos rank very well. YouTube channels are a tried-and-true way to send some really good exposure and SEO back to your brand.”
The post, How to Create Effective YouTube SEO suggests using tantalizing titles, delightful descriptions, proficient profiles by listing your company name or full name and making sure that your website is listed.
We’re reminded in the post, YouTube SEO–How to Optimize YouTube Videos for SEO, to add 5-10 tags to each video and to identify link partners. “Just like with website SEO you need link juice to help boost your Video SEO…A simple way is to do a blog write up around your video content and then link to the video in your post.”
Digg is a “social news site where users can discover and share Web pages.” CMO.com says that Digg is very good for SEO in that even if your story doesn’t become popular, it will still get your page indexed very quickly. Also, “If your story does become popular, this is likely the best site in terms of getting the attention of bloggers who will link to you.”
SEO Surrey’s post, These Three Powerful Tips Will Help You Generate Traffic With Digg suggests the following:
1. Understand how Digg works, spend some time exploring and submitting interesting things you find on the web, so that you get the feel for the type of content that gets the most attention. 2. Carefully select the content you submit to the Digg network, 3. put the Digg button on your site where you post your original content.
SEO Content Girl’s post, How to Use Digg to Drive Traffic to your Website suggests you don’t dig your own website that much, “If they find out that you have submitted your own content into their website frequently, they will penalize you.” She also recommends creating a “Great and helpful description of the content” and “Become active by submitting news content that counts and that is helpful to other web users…if web users see how active you are on Digg chances are they’ll follow your postings and click on your links.”
StumbleUpon, a social news community where members discover and share Web pages, is described by CMO.com as being “Very good if your story makes it to the top page for its tag. Due to StumbleUpon’s large user base, many people can find your stories and link to them.”
StumbleUpon can be added as a button to your blog and it’ll link directly to your blog posts. The post, StumbleUpon some additional traffic and seo value for your website, says “If your page/video/image gets enough likes to make it to the top of its category, you will be seen by millions of users…Many people can find your pages and link to them, ultimately increasing cross linking between your website and therefore boosting your website ranking.”
Tumblr is a social networking site where users can ask and answer questions. CMO.com says, “The blogging nature of Tumblr allows for extremely high potential from a link building perspective. The sites themselves also rank very well in search engines.”
The post, Tumblr’s Biggest Strength is its Biggest Weakness to Google says that “simplicity is one of Tumblr’s greatest strengths, if not THE greatest, but Google doesn’t like it. Anyone who optimizes sites for Google know that there are 2 links that hold the most value for rankings: content and backlinks.”
Tumblring offers, The ultimate Tumblr SEO Guide where they provide suggestions for how to modify elements/tags in your HTML them e.g. title tag, meta description, and meta keywords. In addition they suggest publishing with a custom post url, and using descriptions for pictures and URL’s, and adding keyword content.
As you can probably see by now while these sites offer promise they aren’t a quick and predictable fix for better SEO. I asked David B. Wright, Chief Marketing Officer from W3 Group what he thought about these five profiles for SEO. Here’s what he says:
I mostly agree – though most links from YouTube videos are “nofollow” links, so they don’t help so much in Google, Yahoo! or Bing. Many of the smaller search engines ignore the “nofollow” tag to a link, so links from YouTube do help with SEO for those search engines. That said, it is definitely worth putting a link in the first line of your video description, elsewhere in the description, and on your channel page. The reason to put a link on the first line of the video description is that when people watch a video, only the first line or two of the description is shown by default. Put a link there, and viewers will be more likely to click on it and visit your site. If it’s not visible unless you expand the description, far fewer viewers will see it and you’ll get less traffic from it.
Digg, Stumbleupon, and other social bookmarking sites are a quick, easy way to build links to a website. This is also a “trick” to avoid having to pay fees to submit a site to the search engines. Search engine submission is an old-school way to get your site into the search engines, and can still be helpful, but these days building a few links to the site by using Digg, Stumbleupon and others tells the search engines the page exists, and when the spiders crawl the links to that page, they’ll see the other pages of your site as well. Some search engines charged a fee to submit a site, others didn’t. I don’t know whether any still do or not but if so, there’s no point to paying them when you can easily build a few links and let the search engine spiders will do the rest.”
Even though CMO.com didn’t cite Twitter and Facebook for their strengths for SEO, David Wright thinks they are worth doing as long as we’re aware of what they are good for.
David says, “Twitter is useful because every tweet is it’s own page, so a link to your site helps, but because there are so many tweets, and therefore so many pages, it’s not as highly valued of a link as it could be. It’s still worth doing as part of your overall strategy, but shouldn’t be the main focus from an SEO standpoint. Tweets that get retweeted do get a little more “link juice” depending on how much this happens. URL shorteners (such as bit.ly and budurl) are used a lot to shorten the URLs, but this doesn’t provide much value from an SEO stand point. So where possible, tweet the entire URL if it will fit.
Facebook- I’d agree that the primary value is in engaging with clients, fans, and friends, and running contests, etc. but actual SEO value is limited. Still, if it takes you a second to add a link, why not? Just bear in mind that facebook is a SOCIAL network, not a shopping site. Even though there is a Facebook Marketplace now, and Facebook Ads are becoming more popular, people don’t tend to go there with a commercial intent.
Naomi Schoenfeld of JS² Communications says,
“As someone who has worked in digital marketing, social media marketing and traditional PR I have seen first-hand how well these mediums work together and support each other. From an SEO standpoint, I regularly see updates I’ve posted to Twitter and Facebook on behalf of my clients turn up in Google Alerts that I’ve set up for the purpose of tracking traditional media hits. I recommend that all community managers talk to an SEM expert about how they can incorporate brand/product keywords into their updates while still sounding authentic.”
Video content is highly ranked by search engines. There are strategies that video producers and video channel managers should use to capitalize on this – video editors should encode metadata that includes keywords in post-production, and video marketers must ensure that relevant keywords and tags are used in the video description and even video title. I’ve seen the latter strategy executed very poorly by search engine marketers who stuff in as many SEO keywords as possible, making the end result look very strange. (A hypothetical example: New York City Pediatrician Dr. John Doe MD Discusses NYC Child Care in the Tri-State Area). It’s important to optimize content for both search engines and consumers. My recommendation is to keep SEO and the user experience in mind and use your judgment to incorporate keywords without being too transparent about it.”
Are you using Social Media for SEO? What do you think works best? Leave your comments in the space below.