One of the most underappreciated aspects of SEO is the necessary alignment of SEO strategy with social media activity.
If SEO and social media teams work in silos and don't communicate nearly enough, they can't form a well-coordinated, comprehensive marketing plan.
Therefore, it's extremely important that SEO is integrated into social media activity. What follows are some specific tactics that can be used to increase the impact that your social media activities have on SEO performance.
Using Social Media for Link Development
It's no secret that social media has become increasingly important from an SEO standpoint as the engines have incorporated social signals (e.g., likes, shares, views, etc.) into their ranking algorithm. And as Google+ has become integrated into Google search results and Facebook data into Bing, the direct correlation between what happens in social media and what folks see in their search results has become more obvious.
Even though these changes are important, in my opinion, link development is the most important benefit that social media can bring to the SEO table. In the wake of Google's Panda and Penguin updates, using social media to foster relevant link connectivity has never been more important.
Based on the new algorithm changes, old school link development tactics like blog commenting, free directory submissions, article submission to generic article sites, and a number of other low value tactics no longer work as they once did and can even hurt your site.
What does work is marketing strong, authoritative content that underscores your company's expertise or value proposition to the market. For many businesses, the most effective vehicle to market that content is social media.
SEO professionals should be leveraging the activities of their social media team and the relationships that those folks have to acquire relevant links by marketing high value content in a variety of ways.
Aligning Your Blogging for SEO & Social
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to build links and authority in your space if you write consistent high quality material. Not only does this type of content attract links within industry circles, but it also ends up being keyword focused content that tends to rank well for a number of long-tail terms that are relevant to your business model.
One of the most common missed opportunities I see with blogging activities is failure to create relevant internal links from a company's blog to their main website content. Blog posts are an excellent opportunity to create more relevant internal links to relevant content.
Additionally, many people will omit their site's global navigation template from their blog. This is a missed opportunity.
Think about a link being a vote and your global navigation template as being your most important votes to your most important pages. By including your site's main global navigation template on all blog pages you increase the number of votes that you have for your high priority pages. Also, from a user experience standpoint, it's frustrating to arrive at the blog and not be able to quickly and easily go back to the main site content.
Aligning Your Blogging Team for SEO & Social
Because blogging is so important from an SEO standpoint, it makes sense to train your blogging team on SEO best practices and to provide them with a list of your most important keywords along with the preferred landing pages for those keywords are on your site. This way as the team is creating new content and it will have a higher propensity to be well optimized around the keywords you are targeting and any internal links that are created within the blog will complement the rest of your SEO goals. Additionally, you will make it easier for folks to find relevant content on your site.
Blogging can be a very effective link building tool because of the links that social media content attracts. It can also be effective if you participate in guest blogging activities and leverage your relationships to create link opportunities.
As a blogger you should interact with other authoritative blogs in your space, contributing to those conversations with intelligent comments, and developing personal relationships with the people who are influential in your space. These kinds of activities will go a long way in opening up guest blogging opportunities as well as gaining more attention for the content you're writing (thereby attracting more links).
More Ways to Align Your Content Promotion for SEO & Social
Of course social media is more than just blogging. Leveraging sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other community sites is critical from a content marketing standpoint.
One issue I often see with folks who are using these sites to promote content is that they often promote URLs that are different than the preferred landing pages for their most important keywords. They create a new URL (sometimes a new micro-site) to promote a new piece of content rather than update an existing URL that already has some historical link connectivity.
For example, let's consider a fictitious pet store that releases a new coupon code for dog food. It wouldn't be uncommon for this pet store to create a new splash page with the coupon code and then post that new URL to its Twitter and Facebook pages.
However, this pet store would be better served putting the coupon code on their existing dog food page and posting that URL to those sites. That would ensure that the main dog food URL gets some social mentions, and if anyone links to that URL based on the coupon code, those links will have a positive impact on search performance for the dog food page, rather than a standalone coupon page.
These are just some examples of how aligning SEO and social media efforts can really boost your SEO performance, especially from a link building standpoint.
Make sure that your social media and SEO teams are working together to create a unified digital marketing strategy. Doing so will ensure that you're maximizing the ROI from both channels.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!