More accurately, that title should read, “Search Engine Optimization: Tips for Keeping Your Rankings Up While Involved in An Evolving Process.” But that title was way too long, so we stuck with “Search Engine Optimization Tips” because that’s really what this blog post is about: tips for SEO in a post-Panda, ever-changing space. We’re going to talk a little bit about what will help your website and your business now, what is important at this very moment in SEO and what will likely continue to be important for at least the foreseeable future. And that important thing is branding, and the tips spring up when it comes to how to actually achieve social media branding success.
It’s important to form a coherent image of your brand. Make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit!
In a continually evolving search engine landscape, where the marketing and optimization niches continue to help businesses big and small achieve online success (which means increasing site visitors who are converting into customers), it is important to keep up with the newest SEO trends. Then, these trends must be taken into account when calculating SEO strategies. And with the dust after the Panda update still continuing to settle, many experts have set their sights on branding and content to try to ease their algorithmically-induced woes.
It All Comes Down to Branding
We have written time and time again about content on this blog. There’s just no way around it: content is so incredibly important that it can be the one element of your website (and therefore your business) that can make or break you, that can decide your success or failure. On the one hand, content can be the thing that gets you removed from the SERPs, or it can be the thing that helps your site climb to the top of the rankings. For instance, while duplicate content or non-trustworthy, poorly written content can get you penalized, fresh, original and unique content that is relevant to your business and your consumer can get your site the upward mobility on the SERPs that it needs.
But once the good, high-quality and relevant content is written, where do you go from there? Relying on automated blog commenting, low-quality article marketing and all those other tactics that were for SEO purposes only will no longer fly if you are looking to build a long term brand; what you put out there into the cyber world needs to positively brand your business, and in doing so will likely contribute to your site’s optimization. The next step to take is to brand your work. How do you do this? First, it’s important to ensure that your brand is reflected across all mediums – your website, your social media platforms, your stance when guest blogging – they should all match, no matter how many employees contribute to them. Too many disparate voices and opinions could negatively impact how people view your brand.
Before a Transaction, There Is Interaction
Let’s talk a little bit more about branding. For our purposes, when you are branding your company, your process likely looks like this: you create content and promote it, or you create services/products and promote them in ways where your brand will get noticed, talked about and linked to on the web. This activity helps your SEO greatly, and your business is seeing increased visitors and customers. Okay, so maybe that was the ideal branding scenario. This is what we should all be shooting for. And the first step towards making that process a reality is allocating the appropriate amount of funds. You need money to compete in the current space, so capital is super important; you can use this capital to positively brand yourself or your company online.
And this is where we get to the “how” of it all. While guest-blogging is still a good tactic for both branding and SEO, backing this up with a strong social media presence can mean branding gold. However, we’re not talking about creating a page on Facebook, installing the button on your page, and then leaving it alone – this won’t work. Keeping up with social media, putting real effort into it, can mean the difference between a highly ranked site and a mediocre one in the online marketing and SEO spaces.
There’s no denying the power of social and its ability to play into SEO. After all, Google created a social network, and almost right off the bat began testing how a business’s social presence could play into its rankings on the SERPs (in an effort to bring forth more relevant content for each user).Bing integrated Facebook into its “social search,” underscoring the importance of this powerful tool for connecting businesses and their audiences.
Twitter and SEO
Promoting your content and the content of others, as well as interacting on a regular basis with customers and potential customers, can go a long way towards branding your business and your content in a positive way. Twitter is a great place to do this. With a profile that accurately reflects your business and its mission statement and goals, your company’s decision to start syndicating content on Twitter will almost immediately lend authority to that content. If others begin to follow you, engage with you, and mention you in 140 characters or less, you know you have made great strides in your efforts to brand your company.
Does our description on Twitter match our branding on our website (red arrow)? Yes. The blue arrow points to interesting articles we have shared. We actually shared this one on our Facebook page, which is connected to our Twitter. These interesting articles have to do with our brand, which concerns the internet. Sharing this article is not self-promotion – it shows we care about what’s going on in our industry and even just a little beyond it. The green arrow points to a link to our blog, with tips that reflect our brand’s mission to not only execute on our SEO knowledge but also to teach others and help them do it themselves.
Facebook and SEO
With a Facebook page that is impressive, engaging and popular among your target audience, you can experience a great deal of success. It’s also a good way to share interesting information, to share your own content and get some high-quality links back to your site and/or blog, and get to know your target audience better for more efficient communication.
Facebook is also a great place to reach a large audience (with more than 750 million users) and a targeted audience as well. Facebook ads allow you to choose who sees your ad, and therefore who is compelled to come like your page and interact with your business. This also allows you to bring more relevant visitors to your site, as those who click on your targeted ad, visit your Facebook page, and then visit your site are likely to be interested in whatever niche you operate within.
Google + and SEO
Stay tuned for this one. We haven’t seen anything announcing that brands are allowed to begin building profiles, but the official and non-official company profiles (remember our post on Ford and Google +) have been shown to migrate upwards in the rankings (only in the results that come up for those people who are signed in when searching and who follow the brands on Google +). Expect this to become much more prevalent as the social network expands.
Speaking of Google +, the search engine announced today that is now available to anyone who wants to join. After around 3 months of a trial period and, according to Google, over 90 improvements, anyone can become a Google + social networker. A couple of important changes were made:
– Now, you can experience +Hangouts (video chats with multiple people) right in the palm of your hand. Use your mobile phone (depending on your operating system) to connect with people standing next to you, for goodness sakes. It’s so cool! You can also watch other hangouts that have already reached their user capacity.
– In these +Hangouts, you can do “+Hangouts with extras,” in which you can share things like Google Docs, sketches, videos, and even your screen!
– Here’s another important one, in the words of Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering: “Search in Google+: You’ve been asking for it, and we’ve been busy building it, so today we’re bringing Google’s search expertise to Google+. Just type what you’re looking for into the Google+ search box, and we’ll return relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web.” Check out this Search Engine Land article for more in-depth details about this new feature.
There’s no mention that I can find of how businesses fit into this. Can businesses build profiles now? We’re still seeing Ford show up as a “Test Account,” so we’ll have to wait and see.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming…
Across all of the above spaces, brand monitoring is incredibly important. It’s a way to ensure that your efforts and money spent are actually reaping rewards. Seeing how others are talking about you, understanding who wants to engage with you, and joining conversations are all important for understanding how building your brand has affected your target audience.
Here is a good place to start brand monitoring: your Twitter mentions. One thing you should notice is that we should be interacting more, engaging others on a more regular basis.
One Real Life Example: Gatorade
In an Adage Article entitled, “Inside Gatorade’s Social Media ‘Mission Control’”, Natalie Zmuda wrote:
“Carla Hassan, senior director-consumer engagement, also said the brand has been able to reshape the conversation. Since the launch of G-Series and Mission Control, discussions about sports performance have jumped to nearly 60% from 35% in April. Gatorade is particularly proud of that stat, as it has been working to recast itself as a sports-performance innovator, rather than just a sports drink.”
This makes the company one obvious example of branding success; this is a social media slam dunk made by Gatorade. By utilizing the major social media platforms, Gatorade was actually able to manipulate how others viewed the company and brand itself however it wanted. By creating a social media “mission control” and allocating sufficient resources to branding the company on the various platforms, Gatorade was able to not only brand itself however it wanted and entertain customers, but also rank high on the search engines (above Vitamin Water and Powerade in many instances). Mission control is constantly monitoring the conversations going on about Gatorade, and equally as constantly is becoming a part of them, so that the company can control how its image is portrayed out in the ether.
For the query “sports drink, Gatorade comes up second. A one year old Mashable article entitled “Inside Gatorade’s Social Media Command Center” explains one reason why Gatorade’s site is so well-optimized: “On a day-to-day basis, Gatorade’s tools are also being used for more conventional marketing tactics –- like optimizing landing pages and making sure followers are being sent to the top performing pages. As an example, the company says it’s been able to increase engagement with its product education (mostly video) by 250% and reduce its exit rate from 25% to 9%.”
For the broad query “sports hydration,” Gatorade ranks number one.
So, why does Gatorade experience such success when it comes to ranking for various queries? Likely because it places so much emphasis on its social media and branding campaigns. Check out Gatorade’s Facebook and Twitter pages:
On its Facebook page, which has over 4 million likes, Gatorade asks questions, shares photos and videos, and discusses things with those who have “Liked” Gatorade.
Tips of the day are a great way to keep people engaged with the brand, and coming back for more.
Notice that a lot of the comments that Gatorade makes fit into the aforementioned Gatorade brand: sports-performance innovation, not just hydration.
For more tips and information about SEO, please continue to visit our blog for daily posts about the goings on in the search engine and search marketing worlds. For more specific questions related to your business, contact our Atlanta SEO Agency at 770-481-1766.