How Social is Your SEO?

This is an article I recently wrote for the Triangle edition of Natural Awakenings Magazine. It appeared in the November issue and can be viewed here.

Changes in Internet users’ behavior and search engine algorithms mean that social engagement and unique content will deliver top results. The days of old school SEO tricks such as mini-sites, numerous pages of thin content targeting long-tail keywords and other classic methods of achieving high rankings for relevant keyword phrases, are over. Those methods alone don’t work anymore. The social media channel has grown in popularity with Internet users, and in importance for the search engines in determining content relevance and authority. As a result, social factors are gaining increasing weight in determining which brands show up where in the search results.

Relevance is the primary objective of Google and other search engines when it comes to organic (non-paid) search. They are constantly trying to improve their algorithms’ ability to determine the relevance of a piece of content to the keyword phrase a user is searching for and that user’s intent.  User interactions on social media sites are providing search engines with new data points that can help them determine relevance. Social metrics such as likes, shares, retweets, +1s, repins, and reblogs are used by Google and Bing to determine the authority and popularity of content.

This, of course, has serious implications for a business’s online presence and marketing efforts.  To maintain or improve their rankings in Google, brands and businesses must be engaging with clients, vendors and fans. They must start and participate in conversations. Conversations about their products and services, and about the communities in which they live and operate, the industry in general, and the many shared interests of their customers.

How to make your SEO strategy more social

Keep in mind these are just general suggestions.  Each business is unique, and what works well for one may not work for another. One important thing a business owner can do is work to integrate their website and social media accounts as much as possible. Making content easily accessible and shareable is a great first step. Having social sharing tools on your site’s pages and blog is probably the easiest way. When it comes to Facebook, don’t just talk about yourself and your products and services.  Learn to use Facebook as your page, and participate in conversations about topics that would interest your customers. Ask thoughtful questions.  Share links and interesting content.

Be useful and of value on Twitter by sharing content, news and links that would be of interest to customers.  Providing useful and timely information will get you followers, and they will retweet your content and help grow your audience as well as your social clout with the search engines. Youtube is a great way to share useful and unique content.  If you have enough videos, creating a YouTube channel for your brand is a great way to enable users to view and share your content. If you have great visuals of your products or services in action, or of related interests, consider sharing those on Pintrest and repinning similar visuals from other users.

This is not to say that you should completely abandon your website and let it become static and outdated. Your website is your core online asset and is the one thing you have the most control of online. Your social media accounts should be an extension of your website. Use them to tell the story of your brand and provide value to your followers.

 

Are you using Twitter Lists to keep up with your franchisees?

twitter-logoTwitter Lists is a new feature Twitter recently rolled out that enables users to sort their favorite Twitter accounts into topically organized lists.  As a Twitter user you can create any type of list from funny people to motor-sports personalities and everything in between.

Lists add more value to the Twitter experience by allowing users to better organize information on Twitter.  A Twitter List is public by default (but you can make it private) and it is linked from your account (i.e. twitter.com/username/listname).  In this way, public Twitter Lists increase the discovery of unique and interesting Twitter accounts.

Big brands such as Whole Foods use lists to raise awareness of their individual stores’ Twitter accounts.  Whole Foods currently has 12 separate lists.  One list contains all the stores’ Twitter accounts and the rest are broken down into geographic regions.  This allows Twitter users to be able to quickly find Whole Foods stores’ accounts that are closest to them.  It also allows Whole Foods to be able to see whats going on with all its stores’ Twitter accounts with just a few clicks.  Franchisors can use lists in a similar fashion.

Why should I create a Franchisee Twitter List?

Creating a Twitter List of all your franchisees currently on Twitter enables you to:

  • Monitor each franchisee’s tweets to ensure that they maintaining a consistent brand message
  • Quickly spot and respond to an unhappy franchisee venting anger through Twitter
  • Drive your Twitter followers to your franchisees’ accounts to increase their reach within their local Twitter community
  • Ensure that all franchisee marketing and promotional tweets are in line with franchise policy

Once you create a list of your franchisees, you can see what all of them are up to with a single click.

How to create a Franchisee Twitter List

To create a list, click the “new list” link located in the sidebar of your twitter account.

Give the list a name, the name you choose will be the URL for the list (ex. twitter.com/alliemims/my-zees).  Then choose to make the list either public or private.  You can always change this later.  Then click Create list.

create-twitter-list-step-1

Congratulations.  You created a Twitter List, now we need to add your franchisees.  If you only have a few franchisees currently using Twitter, then it may be easiest to simply enter their user-names in the search box.  Otherwise, click the “following” link to go to your follow page.

create-twitter-list-step-2

From here you can add each franchisee to your new list with just a couple of clicks.

create-twitter-list-step-3

To the right of each franchisee account you will see two drop-down buttons.  Click the list drop-down button and click the check box beside your franchisee list.  Viola! Now that franchisee is in your Twitter List.

create-twitter-list-step-4

Now just repeat the process with the rest of your franchisees’ accounts and you will have a complete Franchisee Twitter List.  To access the list later, simply click on the list’s URL located in the sidebar of your Twitter account.

Take a look at the list I made of Abrakadoodle franchise Twitter accounts.

At this point I’d like to suggest that you periodically perform a search of Twitter to make sure that you are following all your franchisees as they join Twitter.  Start by clicking the “Find People” link and enter your brand name.  Click the follow button on each of the franchisee accounts that you aren’t currently following.

TweetBeep is a helpful tool, not only for finding franchisees, but also for finding Twitter users who are fans of your brand, product, or service.  TweetBeep allows you to keep track of conversations that mention your brand, your products, your services, anything, with hourly email updates.  You can even keep track of who’s tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL like bit.ly or is.gd.

I hope this post helps you with managing your brand image and presence on Twitter.  Do you use Lists in some other way to help market your franchise or small business on Twitter?  Please share with us in the comment section.