As social media grows and matures, it seems pretty clear that there are a few aspects of this integrated discipline that are becoming increasingly important, yet are undeveloped skills in most social media practitioners.  One such aspect is search marketing.

Just a few short years ago search engine optimization (SEO) was a highly specialized discipline, and primarily was being executed within standalone SEO firms and some digital agencies.   The guys (yeah, mostly guys, though a few gals too) who were search experts often had coding backgrounds, and they really understood the nuts-and-bolts of how the search engines, and websites, worked.  They used this info to help static websites get noticed by the engines, and then they extended that knowledge into paid search, also called PPC (pay-per-click) or search engine marketing (SEM).  Blogs came along and they figured out the best ways to optimize those too.  If you needed to build a website or blog, or run a PPC campaign, you knew who to call.

These days, it’s not quite so simple. Managing Search Engine Optimization for Social Platforms Sure, you can (and should) still call in the big guns when you’re building a website from scratch.  But lots and lots of agencies: PR, digital and pure-play social, are building client blogs.  Do those firms hire an SEO company every time they build a blog?  Not if they’re smart.  Those that understand the importance of a properly-optimized blog (and the properly-optimized writing that goes into it) have built up enough SEO expertise in-house (or have developers who have) to be able to create and implement a search-friendly blog and then train the writers on at least basic best practices of search-optimized writing.

Search marketing now goes far beyond websites and blogs.  It’s part of nearly every aspect of social media, from Twitter to YouTube, Facebook to Flickr.  But many social media practitioners or front-line engagers don’t realize how pervasive it is and they’re not always fully equipped to manage search optimization on social platforms.  Want proof?  Look at how many brands haven’t used every available text space on their Facebook page, or who don’t add brand keywords to their YouTube videos.

So speaking of YouTube, did you know that you can optimize videos on YouTube?  Including the right keywords, writing keyword-rich descriptions and uploading video transcripts (yup, you can do that) can all have a big impact on how easily your video is found in YouTube – and in other search engines, such as Google, as well.

Twitter search is getting more important, and more complex, every day.  Twitter can be a very powerful tool to get your brand ranked in search engines.  It all starts with your profile – even if you can’t get your perfect username, you can make up for it by using your real name/brand name as your Actual Name in Twitter – so if your brand name is “Brand Blue,” using exactly that as your Actual Name will be more effective than being “Erin at Blue.”  From that simple start, there are a number of other key Twitter SEO practices to follow; because of Google’s near-instant indexing of its content, quick fixes on Twitter can often make a big difference.

And Facebook … ah, Facebook.  With 500 million + users, the search potential within Facebook seems pretty great.  However, their search function is not clearly optimizable and it’s improving only slowly.  It is true that there are some best practices for Facebook search optimization, including appropriate keyword use (in your info page, photo titles, and status updates); choosing the right name/URL for your Facebook page; and using the About text box (left sidebar) for keyword-rich copy.  Another tiny tip is to use a tall image for your brand logo – you’ll command more space in the search results page.  Try it and see.

So what can you, the social media practitioner, do to expand your knowledge about search?  I recommend starting by adding a few SEO blogs to your blog reader.  Some of the posts will be pretty techie, and they won’t all apply to what you do every day, but I can just about guarantee you’ll start to feel smarter about search in just a couple of weeks.  Maybe set up some Twitter keyword searches (yet another form of social search!) for “twitter + SEO” or “facebook + SEO.”  Breathe it all in – you might find it really appeals to you as a new concept to master.

And the next time your firm hires an SEO specialist to work on a site or a blog, get involved, listen and learn.  You can no longer afford to have a “not my department” attitude.

How does your firm or company manage search marketing in relation to social media?  As a social media practitioner, do you feel like you know a lot about search or are you just taking baby steps?  The comments are yours.

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About Stephanie Schwab

Stephanie Schwab

Stephanie Schwab is the Principal of Crackerjack Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in social media planning and execution. Stephanie is also the founder of the Digital Family Summit, the first-of-its-kind conference for tween bloggers and content creators and their families. Throughout her 20-year career, she has developed and led marketing and social media programs for top brands and has presented on social media and e-commerce topics at numerous conferences and corporate events. Stephanie writes about social media at CrackerjackMarketing.com, sometimes hangs out at Google+, and tweets @stephanies.

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.officecavalry.com/interim/home OfficeCavalry

    I agree with reading blogs on SEO, this is what I do and you'll be suprised how much you learn. It's great for keeping up to date with new trends!

    Great Post!

  • http://www.TheMarketingSpotBlog.com Jay Ehret

    Spot on, Stephanie. The core principles of SEO are fairly well known. By simply having an interest and paying attention they can be learned. But your advice to read SEO blogs is key because there are always new tactics to be learned and trends to keep up with.

  • http://twitter.com/Katytorgov Katy T

    Great article Stephanie!

  • http://www.notaproblog.com Jordan Cooper

    I may be a heretic for saying this, but I think one of the most pervasive reasons why businesses fail to grasp SEO is because that industry makes it out to be way more complicated than it really needs to be.

    Sure, a great SEO company knows all the nitty-gritty stuff, keeps up with trends and can be a boon to your SEM… but for a vast majority of small businesses, the basic knowledge of SEO concepts would do them far more wonders internally themselves. The simple thinking of “what would a potential prospect type in to a search engine?” when designing a site, posting content, uploading YouTube videos, etc. should do the trick 85% of the way there.

    I'm not an SEO expert by any stretch of the imagination, but when I see local B&M's not even including their city's name in their text, titles, etc, it makes me wonder if they truly need the drastic jump up to hire a top-class SEO firm. Just teaching them (or their webmaster guy) the bare basics for an hour or two should do the trick. It really doesn't have to be that complicated.

    But if more businesses wised up to this point of view, wouldn't that be a bad thing financially for the SEO industry as companies would need these agencies/consultants less and less?

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      This is why you write for SME. Push the buttons, bro.

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Jordan, I couldn't agree more. But seriously, how can, say, a local restaurant understand this stuff? They know food costs, hiring waitstaff, creating menus. It's asking a lot to ask them to learn the basics of search marketing too – all they want to do is use Google's self-serve tool and get customers to their door.

      I don't think the big SEO firms are calling on the real little guys either; in fact, I think there's a real hole to fill in local communities for that kind of help. Sort of Web Marketing 101 at a price they can afford.

      • http://www.notaproblog.com Jordan Cooper

        Stephanie: These businesses got a website up for themselves without understanding much about it, right? Going from there to really basic SEO seems like a easy leap to me. Even if the owner got their college-aged cousin to make their website, there's no reason they couldn't pay for an hour of a consultant's time and then make the changes on their own. As Jason would say, “this ain't rocket surgery!” :-)

        • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

          True, someone did build the website. So maybe that's who needs the training most – the cousins and solo guys/gals who are saying “sure, I'll build you a website.” I have ideas on how to make that kind of training happen….you wanna help me get it started? :-)

  • http://www.redgiantconsulting.com Tamara Gruber

    This is a great post. I love when I can find simple rules and tips and tricks to keep in mind when managing all the marketing initiatives from PR to video to Twitter. I like the idea of using a tall logo for search results. I'm designing a new logo now and have so many things to keep in mind including making something that works as a Twitter avatar, favicon, or iPhone app button. This takes my thinking in a new direction.

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Tamara, so happy to be of use! I agree, I love finding the simple tricks that pop up throughout the day.

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com Heather Rast

    Hi, Stephanie. A really relevant topic, glad you brought it up. Tactically speaking, I'll mention that video sitemaps – flashing neon lights that tell Google what your on-page video is about – is one of the key factors to gaining rank for your keywords. I've dug into the video seo topic quite a bit for work and have accumulated several good sites under my Delicious tag for anyone that wants a look: http://www.delicious.com/rast5/videoseo. Conversely, I've personally struggled a little more with the transcription, mostly because its a little tedious (lazy me).

    But you raise a very valid point about the applicability of SEO specialists/counselors as compared to gaining some personal knowledge to affect your business in a hands-on way. I'll contend that some level of knowledge is valuable for small biz, simply to understand concepts and gain awareness for areas of importance (planning purposes). But there's a point of diminishing returns, where the biz owner needs to do what he does best and rely on a trusted source to handle other complementary pieces – that's where some level of knowledge will have helped him/her make a sound choice at the onset.

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Heather, I know nothing about video sitemaps, would love to learn more about them and looking forward to seeing your links. Have you considered using outsourced transcriptionists for your video transcriptions? I learned about it from @stevegarfield – you can find people on Odesk, Elance, etc. and usually get it done pretty reasonably.

      Agreed, not everyone can be a (deep) search marketer, but as Jordan points out below, a bare-bones understanding would go a long way – or a more cost-effective way for small businesses to access such knowledge.

  • agiledudes

    Great post! I'll be sure to pass this along to our clients and team.

  • http://www.farmerseo.com Greg Uhrlen

    Hi Stephanie,

    Potential client expectations for SEO services are often skewed by all those, “Top Spot Rankings in Google Guaranteed!” spam messages that flood your Inbox daily. Even as people delete these messages as they appear, they are still subconsciously being influenced. Thus, as Internet Marketing practitioners, it is our duty to gently explain the realities of SEO and Social Media even if it means a lost client. Besides, our inability to meet unrealistic expectations will most likely cause nothing but bad word of mouth in regards to our services.

    As with any other form of Marketing, there is no magic pill to ensure immediate success. SEO and Social Media Marketing takes an abundance of time and resources.

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Oh, Greg, you're so right! And I'm afraid that many small businesses do fall prey to those come-ons and then get left with a bad taste in their mouth about search and perhaps even web marketing overall.

      Of course, if good SEO were easy, everyone would do it – and it wouldn't be nearly as valuable.

  • http://www.learningquranonline.com learningquranonline

    Thank you so much.You did very nice job and exploring your blog gives you update knowledge of different things keep the good work on.

  • http://www.queensboro.com Jim Goodwin

    Thanks for the interesting and informative post. I agree with Greg, there is no “magic pill” for SEO or Social Media. With recent major changes by Google and Bing/Yahoo, the SEO landscape has shifted once again. As always, it is essential to keep up with the latest information to guarantee that the right customers can find you at the right time. That is one of the reasons blogs like Stephanie's are such a valuable resource. Thanks again!

  • http://www.simon-dodd.com Simon

    It really is amazing how the internet marketing landscape has changed over it's relatively short history, and how us as marketers have grown and fallen and changed to suit the marketplace.

    Who knows what will be coming after social media…discuss;)

    • http://haihongliang.wordpress.com William

      It's really a diffcult question. But as we know, Internet give everyone chances to speak, but we have only limited eyes. So as I see, the new intergrating trends may be is the next trend. However it's absolutely different from the previous intergration.

  • http://www.heatherbartlettart.com Goddess

    Thank you for the advice. :) It's tough being an artist even in the flushest of economies. I really need to get more organized. I have done well in the past with my non-business websites, but now that I have to do it well, I am not as organized. Plus, it's more complicated in some ways. Sure, the blogs stand up easier – used to have to hard-code my “homepage” (remember those?) or use a web editor. Now with widgets and social networking, some things are easier, but the amount of time to do these things sucks up so much time I don't have much time for art. I appreciate your advice so much. Thank you.

  • Mary

    I agree. Any website not implementing any SEO on his website is just wasting time. IMHO.
    ReputationManagementConsultants.com

  • http://rt-now.com Ruthless25

    Everyone is a SEO pro haha!

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  • braidybram

    Social media is a PR for me that the sale of the company, which was made only for advertising. I remember starting to question the possibility of years, the value of public relations program and what could happen if consumers have seen the articles mentioning their products. I asked if people read and respond.

    search engine marketing

  • aallende

    Is kind of interesting how now we need to change the way we write to accommodate our content to search engines algorithms. Few years ago I was so concern about SEO and I ended developing a product website the was hard to read for a human. I did all that you can imagine, repeat key words, highlight key sentences, put page titles and meta tags (way back then when it was taken into consideration…). I agree with Stephanie, be aware of SEO and I must add, be aware of SEO to the point you are able to decide when to follow SEO recommendation and when you can brake them.

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