What started out as a way to spy on your ex-girlfriend from high school or see what your friends are having for dinner has now become a big piece of the search engine optimization puzzle. Chances are at this stage you are already involved in one or more social networking sites, so it’s not so much a matter of what you are doing as it is whether you are doing it right and what effect it has on your ranking.
Let’s start by figuring out the best places to spend your time. There are literally hundreds of social networking sites out there so being a member to all of them is not really an option unless you have a lot of time on your hands. For the rest of us, we need to make sure we focus on the sites that are going to make for a solid investment.
You should start by having an active account with the four major social networking sites all of which you have likely already heard of and used:
Once you have created an account with each of these, here are some action steps that you can easily take throughout your day that will have a profound effect on the traffic coming to your website, by referral from each of these social media sites as well as Google.
1) Your Profile
Make sure that you fully complete your profile for each of these sites. This includes using a good headshot so people can see what you look like, a professional bio that showcases your personality, educational background, etc. Whatever they ask, you fill out…required or not. The good news is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel each time, so feel free to use the same stuff across the board like your picture and bio where applicable. It will make life easier for you as well as keep things consistent. When writing any of your text for your bio, interests, education, links, etc. be sure to work your keywords in whenever you can. Don’t just use “Speaker” or “Blogger” as your career or interest, use “SEO Speaker” or “SEO Blogger“.
2) Sharing Content
Make it ridiculously easy for visitors of your site to be able to find you on any of the social websites you frequent. You can easily do this by linking icons for each of them within the header area of your website. Next, include share icons within each of your blog posts so visitors can easily share your posts with their community. There are lots of free plugins out there for you to choose from. Some of the easier ones to use are ShareThis and AddThis.
It doesn’t end there though. Make sure that you are sharing other people’s content as well. If you read an article that you like, click “Like” or mention it on Facebook or Twitter. You can be a valuable resource for your community by not just writing for them but by sharing valuable content that others have written with them. Besides, it’s a great way to show support for others who will likely step up and support your efforts as well (assuming they are valuable enough).
For social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit, you should be submitting your blog posts each day you make a new post live on your site. It’s an easy process for each and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes at most. Once again, in order for these sites to work for you, this can’t be a one way street. Are you starting to see a pattern yet? If all you do is submit your own sites without spending any length of time giving to the community, these sites won’t work for you. You need to be an active member. For example, click the Stumble button on StumbleUpon a few times each day while you are there and click the thumbs up icon for a few sites that you like. In the morning when you are reading some other blog posts, Digg a few of the articles posted by your piers. Like anything else in life, the more you give to the community, the more you will ultimately receive.
3) Add Value
Just like when you are creating content for your site, when managing your social media efforts, your focus has to be on adding value for your community. If you are harassing by over-selling in your status or posting your blog 10 times a day you are not adding value and are likely going to be seen as a nuisance by your community as well as Google. You see, although Google does factor in your social activity (who Likes and +1′s your pages, who you are friends with, who follows you, etc.) it is not significant enough to justify “artificially padding” your activity by following tens of thousands of people, paying someone on Fiverr to add Likes from fake accounts or automating a majority of your interactions. The better strategy is to legitimately grow your community and the Likes and +1′s by adding value and positioning yourself as an expert so people will come to you. That is really the only way it will play a significant role in increasing your rankings.
4) Follow High Authority Users
Whatever industry you are in, there is someone out there that is considered a “high authority user” or someone that the community looks to for guidance. Connect with these people…friend them on Facebook, “Like” their page, follow them on Twitter, etc. Whatever you can do to get close to them. Over time if you can add enough value to them there is a chance they may link back to your site in turn sending an onslaught of new traffic but also creating a very high value link to your website.
5) Be Consistent and Active
Like anything else in what we are doing you need to be consistent and active. If your last status update or Tweet was a month and a half ago this is going to be a big failtacular. You don’t however need to work on every social media site every day. Break out a weekly schedule and mark down what specific actions you are going to take on which days and then get to work on it. The more consistent and active you are the better your results are going to be.
All of this may seem like a lot of work, but you could actually get away with spending about 20-30 quality minutes on all of your social media marketing and see a significant return long term. What generally happens is we open Facebook in order to post our new blog and end up watching videos of cats in paper bags. Stay focused and walk into it with a specific strategy and you will be a social media superstar in just a few weeks!