Social Media Optimization: It's Like SEO, For Social Sites

One of the coolest things about the rise of social networking and sharing sites like MySpace and YouTube are the new opportunities they offer to marketers, even to search marketers. Into that space seems to have come a new term, SMO -- social media optimization.

5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO) from Rohit Bhargava to my understanding is the first use of this new term. In it, Rohit expresses how SMO and SEO can work together:

The concept behind SMO is simple: implement changes to optimize a site so that it is more easily linked to, more highly visible in social media searches on custom search engines (such as Technorati), and more frequently included in relevant posts on blogs, podcasts and vlogs.

In other words, many who do search engine optimization have learned to build search engine friendly sites. Do that, and the search engines often will naturally reward you with traffic. But is your site social media friendly? Have you added the things that will get you into the new fertile ground of SMO?

It's worth considering. Conceptually, some of this stuff isn't new. For example, we long had people taking about ways to help others bookmark your web site. But today's new wave of social media sites can operate as a magnifying glass. Get that one person to bookmark you to and in turn you might tap into many other links. And those links, of course, flow back into helping with search rankings.

Rohit's got tips in his post above. If those aren't enough, check out Cameron Olthuis's Introduction to Social Media Optimization, which provides further tips. Loren Baker then goes on with further ones in Social Media Optimization : 13 Rules of SMO, recapping those from Cameron and Rohit and adding his own. For yet more, Lee Odden offers some up on New Rules for Social Media Optimization. Need still more? You can't go wrong keeping up with post from SEOmoz. Rand Fishkin's never happier than when he's offering some SMO advice. And someday I'm going to sit Dax Herrera down and debrief him on the many sharing sites that I've him frequent with the ease of a native. The sale of his mustache, while not technically on a sharing site, was still a classic of working another site (eBay) to drive traffic to your own.

For me, that's one of the biggest adjustments coming from the SEO world and into SMO, understanding that your presence can be in multiple places without being harmful.

Here's what I mean. Generally in SEO, it's good advice to have one single web site that you point to. Build traffic to a common domain, rather than divide it among various places. Sure, as you mature in SEO, you learn the advantages to having multiple sites. A corporate blog and a corporate web site can equate to double the representation in top search results. But there are limits, and you're still basically driving traffic to places you own.

With SMO, the adjustment is understanding that you have multiple places that while you don't own them still can be valuable to you. A Flickr profile can get you traffic in the Flickr space. Similarly, your bookmarks while on the site still might drive traffic. And have you gotten a MySpace profile yet? Go now, because you might decide you want it to drive traffic from MySpacers down the line.

Matt Cutts didn't -- and now someone else owns his valuable Matt Cutts persona over there. Meanwhile, I might never flow into MySpace the way my 16 year old niece does. But should I decide to do more there, I'm sure I'll wish that I hadn't let this Danny Sullivan get the name I wish I'd had. Still, at least I've staked my claim -- and Tom's even my friend. Except Tom's NOT my friend, of course.

Want to discuss more? We've got two good threads going in the Search Engine Watch Forums, Here Come's Social Media Optimization? and What Is Social Search?