23/11/2010

By Lance Concannon, Social Media Lead, Text 100 Global Public Relations

Getting your company’s website to the top of Google’s natural search results can reap huge benefits. 75% of users will click on a link displayed in the search engine’s ‘natural’ results rather than one of the paid adverts that are displayed alongside these search results. The vast majority of people will click on the top two or three links in the list, so it’s easy to see why so many brands hire SEO specialists to try and get their sites as close to the top of the search engine results as possible.

The basic rules of SEO are well understood: build a good quality, standards compliant website with plenty of good quality content, and find ways to get lots of other high authority websites to link to yours. Get this right and you’ve done most of the hard work.

You can also use social media to give your site an SEO boost.

Blogging: Search engines love sites with fresh content, and running a regularly updated blog on your company site is a great way of providing that. By posting interesting articles about your market you’ll encourage other bloggers in the same industry to link to your site, which is great for SEO. You can build on this by commenting on and exchanging links with other relevant blogs.

Facebook: Building a Facebook fan-page for your brand is a great way to create connection with your customers through a platform which they are comfortable with. And by linking to your company site from the fan-page, you can enhance its SEO.

Twitter: Just like Facebook, Twitter is a good platform for engaging directly with consumers, and provides a direct SEO advantage by linking back to your company site from the profile page. If you use Twitter to highlight blog posts or other activities on your website, your followers will often forward on these tweets to their own networks, generating more links to your site.

Video: Creating engaging video content that is relevant to your market and sharing it via sites such as YouTube is another powerful SEO tool. Video content is a great way to reach people, and by setting up a free branded channel on YouTube you can easily build another strong online presence for your company which, again, can be linked back to the main company website.

Aside from the benefit of generating links from high-authority sites, there is a secondary SEO benefit to building these social media channels for your brand. In an ideal world your own website should be at the top of the search results when people are searching for the products or services you offer, but what other results appear the same page?

Search engines increasingly rank social media results quite highly, so when people search for your brand they will also find all of these additional channels where your company has a presence, giving you a greater opportunity to get your message across to them.

The golden rule in all of the channels we’ve looked at is not to fill them with the kind of dull, dry marketing messages that people might find on your website. Content should be genuinely interesting and engaging — before you invest resources in creating material for these social channels, make sure it passes the “So What?” test. Is it something that the audience will really find interesting, or is it just more marketing fluff? Great content gets spread across the web quickly, marketing material gets ignored.