This is a guest post by Amanda DiSilvestro of HigherVisibility.
Social media is no doubt a great way to improve engagement and visibility in your niche, but most of the advice that businesses are given assumes that new people will be able to find these accounts. While putting a “follow us” button on your company website is great, an even better way to earn followers and connections is to show up on a search engine results page (SERP). This is something that many companies spend a lot of time and a lot of money perfecting, but usually the focus is on content—not social media accounts.
For those who are unfamiliar, the idea of optimizing a piece of content or a particular webpage is known as search engine optimization (SEO). There are many different strategies and methods that go into optimizing a website for Google search results, and things can get a bit complicated. Fortunately, optimizing a social media account for search engines is easier and doesn’t require hiring any type of expert; just the following steps.
Different Places Your Social Account Can Rank
Before jumping right into optimization, it’s important to understand where and why you want your social account to rank in the first place. There are several different places where it might be desirable to earn a top search result:
• Google and Bing. Obviously. Need I say more? Google is the number one search engine in the world, so if someone types something into Google you want your social media account to show up. Bing is quickly gaining power in the search sphere, so showing up on that search engine wouldn’t be a bad thing.
• Social Media Search Engines. This is where you will likely have the best luck when it comes to optimization. Most people don’t think of a social media network as a search engine, but it actually acts as one because there is a search bar. People can still type keywords into a social network’s search feature; thus making it a search engine. This idea isn’t very big yet, so you won’t have much competition.
• YouTube. Believe it or not, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the U.S. If you’re adding videos to your social accounts (which for engagement purposes, you should be!), you might want to try and rank your social account for this search engine.
Because your social media account offers valuable information for users, search engines are going to be more than happy to rank your website well—they just need to know about it. In other words, you’re optimizing your account for the search engines; not your followers. Your followers will have no idea that you’re optimizing your website, it’s the robots behind the search engine algorithms that will. If you don’t optimize your social media accounts, these bots simply won’t be able to find your great site and rank it well so that users can find it.
Below is an example of a social media account that optimized correctly:
As you can see, the users typed “blogger candidate” into the LinkedIn search bar, and Emily Jasper showed up. In this case, this worked well for an individual. Emily was thinking like employers, and wanted to make sure that her account showed up on the top.
*Extra note: On most search engines, your connections will always outrank other results. In other words, if someone is searching for something, their connections will probably show up above your company on the results page; thus making connections even more important. You can learn more about making social media connections here.
So how do you make it happen? Well I’m glad you asked.
How to Earn a Top Ranking for Your Social Media Account
There are essentially four steps involved in helping your social account rank well, regardless of the search engine that you’re trying to optimize for (Google, Social Media searches, etc.):
Step #1: Determine what terms users might use to search for your site.
The first thing that you will want to do when it comes to optimizing your account is find keywords where you can really thrive. This works in the same way that it works for Google. You want to optimize your website (or in this case social account) for keywords related to your industry. There are a few things to keep in mind when you make this happen:
• Stay relevant and make sure that you’re choosing a keyword that describes your company. If someone forgot your company name, what would he/she search for?
• Fall back on your SEO keyword research you did for Google—these might be great keywords for social media as well.
• Check your competition by simply typing your keyword into the search bar. If there are a lot of very relevant companies, try something else.
Step #2: Utilize keywords whenever you’re captioning photos.
Many social networking sites give you the opportunity to post photos and a caption with those photos. Make sure that you use your keywords to describe those photos. Below is an example of a company using a good keyword on a photo caption:
As you can see, this company used the term “SEO in this photo caption even though it may not seem directly related to SEO. Whether this was done on purpose or not, it’s going to help this company show up top if something types in “SEO” to the Facebook search bar.
Step #3: Utilize links and hashtags.
Whenever you’re going to link to an article, describe that article using a keyword. This works best when you’re dealing with Twitter because Twitter allows you to use hashtags. People often use the Twitter search bar, but many assume that a hashtag would be the easiest way to find a lot of results on their topic.
Step #4: Include your keyword in your headline and description sections.
These are two great opportunities to utilize your keyword or keywords. Remember that search engine bots cannot see your content or analyze it to determine the type of information your pages offer. These keywords serve as indicators for these bots. Below is a screenshot of my company Higher Visibility that used quite a few key terms (SEO firm and online marketing) in their Twitter description:
The Takeaway for Individuals and Small Businesses
It’s important to realize that you don’t want to just keyword spam. If using your keywords doesn’t make sense in a certain context, don’t use it. Search engines, particularly Google, pay special attention to user experience, and they have taken measures to make sure that companies aren’t stuffing keywords in all over the page just to rank well. Just be natural, and you’ll be set to go.
Have you ever thought about optimizing your social accounts for search engines? Ever had any success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author:
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers national and local SEO services to a wide range of companies across the country.