Once upon a time, SEO was sort of an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. In the early days, 10-15 years ago, if you built a website with keyword-rich content that was also good for users, you’d rank well in the organic search results. Later on, inbound links rose in importance: if quality sites linked to you, and you continued to have quality, keyword rich content that was also good for users, you’d rank well in the organic search results. Nowadays, though, the landscape has shifted.
Traditional SEO is no longer enough.
Sure, traditional SEO will still give you a good chance at ranking well – for one position in the search engine results. But if you’re not utilizing and optimizing social media channels, your site is probably drowning in a sea of competing sites.
If you don’t build it, users will.
And users aren’t always your best advocates, especially if you’re not participating in social media and optimizing it for search results. At a minimum, you should protect your brand name by optimizing as many social channels for your brand as possible. Merely focusing on SEO for your main website isn’t good enough anymore.
You’ve probably seen a typical search engine results page, with maps and news results integrated into the content. The news results portion usually looks something like this.
What if that was your business?
While you can’t control the actions of others, and you can’t stop newspapers from covering negative news, it’s a good idea to have an SEO’d press release ready to publish when situations like this arise. This way, the press release could show up in news search results instead of the negative story, illustrating in a positive way how your company is proactively dealing with a tough situation.
Get in on the conversation.
Conversation happens around your brand, whether you’re a part of it or not. If you’re not part of the conversation, you may see search results like these for a branded search:
Ouch. Needless to say, you can’t control what users say about your brand, any more than you can control what the media says. But wouldn’t you rather have a search results page that looks like this?
Or like this?
All of these listings appear on the first page of a Google search for “zappos”!
Unlike Walmart, Zappos has optimized nearly every possible social profile for their brand. Searches for “zappos” display the Zappos:
• CEO’s Twitter profile
• Wikipedia listing
• Facebook page
• Microsite about their business model
• YouTube channel
• Android Market app listing
• Slideshare profile
Nearly every listing on the first page of Google for “zappos” is a Zappos-controlled, and optimized, site. And nearly all of them are social media properties – but because Zappos has optimized their profiles and the content, these social sites are ranking for the brand.
70% of consumers research a variety of sources prior to purchase; 30% turn to search engines first. With the right SEO and social media programs, you can control your reputation and influence consumer purchase.
Have you had a challenge with optimizing social profiles for organic search? Tell us about it in the comments!