Let's start with what is SEO? SEO stands for search engine optimization. And the phrase improve your SEO strategy encompasses the actions taken to ensure your website can be found in a search engine's results page (SERP) when searching for words or phrases relevant to the content on your website.
What does social SEO mean? Social SEO refers to the idea that social media links and interaction play a considerable part in a website's search rankings. It sounds complicated (and, in reality it is) but basically SEO is all about optimizing content – whether it's on your website or on a social media platform – in order to appear higher in search rankings.
Here are six uncomplicated social SEO tips you can easily start implementing today:
1. Optimize your social media profiles. The key to an SEO friendly social media profile is to be descriptive as possible. Always fill out the 'About' or 'Information' sections of any social media platform. Use words or phrases that describe your business and are also terms individuals would use to search for your business.
For example, to optimize your Facebook Page for local searches, it is very important to include your address, city, province, and postal code. Always include links from your social channels back to your business's website (and links from your website to your social channels).
Insider Tip: The "Category" field is often overlooked on Facebook Pages but is important for Facebook mobile searches. Check to make sure your business is listed as the correct category while editing your basic information .
2. Optimize your social media content/updates. To optimize your social content, always include some of the relevant search keywords you determined for your business in your Facebook updates, tweets, pin descriptions, etc. It's important to remember to share content from your website or blog socially to give it an SEO boost too. Sharing new content on Twitter is especially important because it helps Google index it faster (indexing means Google adds this URL to their database).
Insider Tip: Use your business's name in your social posts. This helps Google associate the keywords you use to describe your business with your business's name.
3. Build links by making your content shareable. A key factor in SEO is link building. Simply put, this means having good website to website relationships through links. When you have more quality sites linking to your website (inbound) and you are linking to other quality websites (outbound) the more authoritative Google determines your website to be. More authority equals a higher SERP rank.
Likes, comments, +1s, repins, retweets, etc., all play into the weight given to your links. If you create content people want to share, you can create more inbound links. "Content" doesn't always have to be as elaborate as a blog post or whitepaper, content can also refer to tweets or Facebook posts as well. By posting engaging social content, you're improving your SEO value. To review: Quality content equals more shares equals more links equals better SEO value. Simple right?
Insider Tip: A more advanced way to increase shares is to add social share buttons to individual pieces of content on your website or blog.
4. Use Pinterest. An easy way to create shareable content is by using Pinterest . Pinterest is great for link building and improving your keyword strategy. Google indexes pages from websites with heavy traffic faster and higher in a SERP. You can increase your content's visibility in SERPs by adding keywords within the title of a Pinterest board, the board's description, and you even have up to 500 characters to describe an individual pin so you'll want to include keywords there as well.
Additionally, you can customize the pin's link and point people back to your website or blog – further increasing the opportunity for your content to rank higher in a SERP. From an SEO perspective, Pinterest allows you to do a few things that other networks don't, so take advantage of it.
Insider Tip: Google prefers high-resolution images, so use high-quality images on Pinterest whenever possible.
5. Sign up for Google+ and spend 10-minutes a day on it. No one loves Google+ more than Google. Sign up for a Google+ Business Page and complete as many fields as you can in the "About" section using keywords that describe your business. Google also allows you to add several customized links within your profile, you can use this as an opportunity to link back to your website, blog, and additional social channels. By spending 10-minutes a day sharing your content to your Google+ page, you'll be more likely to appear within Google's SERP. There are more reasons you should care about Google+ if you're a Solution Provider.
6. Create a Google+ Local listing. According to Google, 97 per cent of consumers search for local businesses online. In order to perform well in local search results it's critical that you optimize your Google+ Local listing (formally known as Google Places). A Local Google+ page is different from a Google+ Business Page because it allows customers to easily connect with that business's physical location. Update the details about your business–address, phone number, hours, etc.–and you're good to go! Insider Tip: Be sure to keep your information up-to-date on Google+ Local and Facebook–it helps! Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Not making your business’s social media sites public.
- Creating a Facebook Profile instead of a Facebook Page ( learn how to fix this here ).
- Not customizing your Facebook URL. ( Here’s how )
- Not using your business’s name as your Facebook Page name or Twitter name.
- Uploading images to your social channels with file names such as: Photo1 or IMG1287–images with meaningful file names can help you rank better .
- Duplicating another website’s content. Your time and resources are limited as a small business owner but Google doesn’t like this.
- If something appears to be a fast and easy way to improve your SEO it’s probably a black hat tactic (that means it’s bad), Google frowns on these unethical techniques and penalizes those who implement them.
Keep this in mind regarding social SEO: Improving your SEO takes time and SERP changes don't happen overnight. Always be as descriptive as you can and keep your info up to date. Ultimately, as a small business owner you shouldn't obsess over SEO. Instead, focus on providing a WOW! experience for your customers and your business will benefit through natural word-of-mouth.
Special to The Globe and Mail