The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Optimization for SEO

Ultimate Guide to Social Media Optimization for SEO

photo credit: theanthonyryan via photopin cc

We’ve all heard rumors about social media’s impact on SEO and how it can supposedly make your website rank higher.

But WHICH social media? and what should you do about it? what can you about it?

The truth is that most social media platforms mark any of the links you share on them with “nofollow.” What does that mean? It means those links don’t pass any SEO authority to your website like a “normal” followed link from most other websites.

So what can you do? Why bother?

I’ve often had the same questions – as things change quickly in the world of SEO! So I pulled together this guide to give you the step-by-step guide to optimizing your social media marketing for SEO, platform by platform.

1 – Facebook for SEO

We don’t follow the same SEO rules we do on our own website for Facebook. (For instance, it doesn’t matter at all what the name of the file is when you upload a photo to Facebook unlike on your own website)

So what do we focus on?

Facebook Page Name

This is going to act as the “Title” of your Facebook Page in the search results (that blue hyperlinked part).

Screenshot of Facebook Title in Search Results

So what should you name your page?

  • Avoid keyword stuffing as that’s just going to come off as spammy and hurt your organic growth on Facebook when real users are turned off by the spammy name of your page.
  • Brand name. Facebook is a great tool for owning your brand name in the search results. Including your company/brand name in your Facebook page name is an excellent idea.
  • But really, what about keywords? If your company name doesn’t accurately describe what you do, feel free to include a few words in a natural way that might better describe your company in the Facebook page name.
    • For example, the name of my page is “Liz Lockard Marketing Consulting” as opposed to just “Liz Lockard.” I’m still striving for owning my own name in the search results, but the addition of “marketing consulting” helps as I interact as my page around Facebook — other people viewing the name of my page have a better idea of what I do.

Okay, but what if I already have a page and I’ve named it something terrible?

If you have under 200 likes still, you might be in luck: http://www.facebook.com/help/271607792873806

(Just over 200? Try getting a few of your friends to “unlike” your page for a day while you try to change your name)

If you’re way over 200, don’t worry about it but DO keep your eye out for the odd chance Facebook gives you an opportunity to change it.

Facebook Page URL

The only other major SEO factor for your Facebook page is the actual URL you choose for your page. You know, one of those that doesn’t have a messy number at the end of it. (Mine is www.facebook.com/lizlockardmarketingconsulting)

How do you do it? When can you do it?

  • Prerequisite: Your page must have 25 like first. Need more likes? Try these ideas.
  • Visit http://www.facebook.com/username to change your name. Careful: Facebook usually only lets you change it once, if at all, once it’s set. Choose carefully.

How do you choose carefully?

  • Use the same guidelines for your Facebook page name – think about owning your brand/company name and possibly some non-spammy keywords.

Okay, but what’s spammy?

  • Spammy: “Jewelry by Kate – Jewelry, Jewelry, Jewelry, Bracelets, Bracelets, Necklaces, Earrings, Rings, Jewelry Gifts”
  • Non-spammy: “Jewelry by Kate”

Other Elements?

About

Some people have said the about section of your Facebook page served as a meta description for your page in the search results (meaning it would be that little text blurb under your blue hyperlink) – recently, I’ve actually seen Google serve a recent comment on your page by someone else as the description (as seen in the above screenshot).

Individual Facebook Posts

Although unclear how often these individual Facebook posts would actually show up on the first page of search results, the first 160 characters or so of your post does show as a meta description. Even more important – the first 18 show up as your title. However, I don’t foresee most individual Facebook posts ranking very high in general.

Local

One thing that does have an impact on your ability to rank locally is adding a phone number and location to your Facebook page — IF your business has a physical location. Local search unfortunately favors those with a physical location at the moment – however, feel free to fill your location data out anyway as Google’s algorithm may get smarter with local and start recognizing things like that a plumber doesn’t necessarily need a physical office to be the best closest solution for someone searching for a local plumber.

Looking for more local search tips? Check out this post.

(One item outstanding: Facebook’s new graph search. As it goes mainstream, there might be a whole host of more comprehensive advice for Facebook & SEO)

2 – SEO for Twitter

There have been multiple suggestions that the number of tweets your website or blog post gets can affect its ranking.

Tweets versus Rankings from Branded3 Study

Source: Branded3

Other recent moves for Twitter & SEO include Twitter creating a public profile directory, and making moves to be better crawled by Google.

So what does this mean for you? What can you do to get more SEO power out of your Twitter use?

Twitter Name

This is your URL for your Twitter account. You have 15 characters at your disposal. Follow the same advice as you did for Facebook – try to capture your brand name, if possible, in those 15 characters. This step will help you dominate the search results for your brand/company name. (Mine is https://twitter.com/lizlockard)

The good news is you can change your username at anytime – without losing any followers. The step-by-step from Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/14609-how-to-change-your-username

Twitter Bio

Besides the fact that Twitter recently created a public directory of users, your Twitter bio will serve as the meta description for your Twitter profile in the search results. Another reason to use relevant keywords that describe what you do/who you are is that a number of people looking to grow relationships via Twitter are using Twitter’s search function or tools like Followerwonk to find relevant partners. Using relevant words over cutesy descriptions ups your ability to be found.

Twitter Bio Screenshot - Amy Portferfield

You can see Amy uses the following keywords in her bio “social media strategist” “trainer” and “facebook marketing”

Getting More Tweets

There’s no magic pill for getting more Tweets on Twitter. But what CAN you do to help yourself?

  1. Using the platform to build relationships and use it well. Don’t know where to start or struggling to get a real following? Check out Alicia Cowan’s Twitter Brilliance program (affiliate link).
  2. Remember to actually SHARE your blog posts on Twitter. And more than just one tweet. Don’t spam your followers, but using a tool like Followerwonk can let you know when people are online – and show you how just one tweet of your blog post can easily get lost in the Twitter stream. Tweet it more than once.
  3. Make it EASY for people to share your website/blog. Add a Tweet button or other social sharing plugins.
  4. Have a networking crew or mastermind group? Ask them to Tweet for you on posts you’re *really* trying to get traction on.

3 – Google+ for SEO

Sad to say, you simply just cannot ignore Google+ anymore. Google very obviously gives preference to its own social network in its search results and if your content isn’t being shared on that network, you’re missing out.

What to do?

  • Claim your Google+ profile if you haven’t already. (These steps might help)
  • Build up your following. Easy ways to do that? Ask your existing mailing list, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers to join you. Every few weeks, ask again.
  • Overwhelmed by needing to post on so many networks? Your bare minimum should be to use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule the same posts you’d be sharing on Twitter or Facebook on to Google+ as well.

A little something extra with Google Authorship

One MAJOR impact Google+ has on search results is the ability to add your profile picture next to the search results for ANY article you write around the web. Yep, ANY. If you don’t have a profile, you can’t have your picture added to the search result.

Does this affect SEO? Not in rankings per se, but click-throughs? You bet (by upwards of 150%)

Don’t have Google Authorship set up for your site yet? Check out this step-by-step from Neil Patel.

4 – Pinterest Optimization

Pinterest follows the same rules as the rest of the social networks – nofollowed links. However, Pinterest pins and boards very easily show up at the top of search results. If your pin or board is dominating the search results, it increases the chances someone may click through to your site via Pinterest.

How can you up your chances of your pinning appearing at the top of the search results? A few simple ways:

  • Avoid cutesy board names. Use actual keyword names. Keep it non-spammy and put the keyword you’re targeting closer to the beginning of the board name. Example? My Google Analytics Tips board: http://pinterest.com/thelizlockard/google-analytics-tips/
  • Always add a description to your pin.
  • Always add a link to your pins – doesn’t affect SEO but does affect the number of click-throughs possible for your site.

I’m not a Pinterest expert, but Melanie Duncan knows what she’s talking about. Check her out for more tips.

5 – LinkedIn Optimization

LinkedIn is another nofollow example. You’re not going to get your own website higher in the search results from optimizing your LinkedIn profile, but you may just dominate the LinkedIn results and get more click-throughs there.

Your URL

Your “title tag” for your LinkedIn result is simply your name, which you don’t really want to alter and doesn’t require any specific action. However, you can and should claim your URL.

Watch Alicia Cowan walk you through how to claim your LinkedIn vanity URL in this video:

Mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/lizlockard.

Your Headline, Description, Resume

Here’s where you’re mostly optimizing to be found via LinkedIn’s search function. Keywords in your headline, followed by your description and the rest of your resume are going to have the biggest impact.

Get the how-to from LKR Social Media here.

What else?

One of the simplest things you can do on any of these social networks is make sure to have a link back to your actual site on the profile. Does this help your SEO? Not in particular, because it’s a nofollow link, but it will increase the likelihood that someone finds your actual website from that social media profile.

What do you think?

Have anything you’d add to this list? Anything missing? Did you find this guide helpful? Feel free to Tweet this post if you’ve found it helpful.

“Check out this Ultimate Guide to Social Media Optimization for SEO from @lizlockard http://bit.ly/Vc32je” Click here to tweet this.

Your SEO Roadmap, an SEO course for real people, is opening soon. Do you want to be the first to hear all about it? Get on the insider’s list here.

12 Responses so far.

  1. Katya Barry says:

    Bwah…. that’s a lot to consider but everything makes such perfect sense, Liz. And it’s a great reminder that consistency is the key here- have the same name and description across all platforms.

  2. Mitch Rezman says:

    with Facebook information populating Bing results, where would I find information to help optimize for Bing using social media?

    • Liz Lockard says:

      Hey Mitch! Thanks for your comment. Facebook and Bing is still a fairly new partnership so I’d wait to see how that pans out (especially with the Graph search from Facebook). I don’t predict too many differences, perhaps just a few extra capabilities so the advice in this blog post should still apply.

  3. Alicia says:

    Hey Liz, Wow, I LOVE this post. Reading your tips had me nodding furiously saying ‘yes, yes, yes!’ all the way through!

    Also, thanks so much for including me! :)

  4. Thanks so much for the mention Liz! This is a great compilation of SEO tips for all the top social media sites.

    I’ve been finding that Google+ has been providing the greatest SEO benefits — the fact that Google instantly indexes any page that’s +1′ed is massive! Be sure not to just +1 your blog post — for example if you click the Google+ icon at the side of this post, enter a little description where it says “Add a comment…” using your target keywords for that post. Google looks at the summaries people give posts as well.

  5. Gezi Sitesi says:

    I have been alredy following your nice suggestion. On my Google+, I have just 300 friends who added me on theri circles, but on my Facebook page I have about 300 followers. Need to improve myself about LinkedIn and Google+.

    On other social media I a so active.

  6. Jenn says:

    Liz,
    I love what you’re doing. I am spreading your articles on this pinterest board with 350 contributors. Hope we can network in the future!

    http://pinterest.com/Pinsbook/seo-smm/

  7. When choosing whether or not to add a meta description, also consider that social sharing sites like Facebook commonly use a page’s description tag when the page is shared on their sites. Without the meta description tag, social sharing sites may just use the first text they can find. Depending on the first text on your page, this might not create a good user experience for users encountering your content via social sharing.

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