SEO for social networks is something that you don’t hear very much about. However it is possible and it can make a big difference in whether or not people find you. Social networks like Facebook are becoming more and more a “pay to play” venue. If you have the cash to advertise your content you can still do ok. If you do not have the cash then you are out of luck.
The sheer volume of material being uploaded and posted to social networks every day makes it less and less likely the stuff you contribute will be seen. We saw that coming a few years ago and began to advocate paid advertising as a way to supplement the diminishing reach of free posts. Time has proven us right and the growth of this trend shows no sign of slowing down.
The one tool that still exists and is free to use and can give you good results is SEO. The easiest way to understand SEO is to see it as the search engine companies establishing an “ideal” template for what a web page should have. The closer your page comes to being in conformance with that ideal the more the search engines will like it. The more the search engines like your page the higher you will place in search results related to your page.
We believe that basic site or page SEO is important. It is one of the things that we check on every one of our clients websites before we run a campaign for them. If anything is needed to bring their site into line with the current ideal then we do the necessary fixes.
Many people don’t realize that you can do SEO on social network pages. Because we still support the DIY promoters out there, we are going to explain what every page should have. Then we will take a look at how to make SEO changes on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
First lets take a look at the basic rules of SEO. There are certain elements that you can adjust on most social networks. Others you can’t and it varies from one network to another.
1. Each page should be built around a focus keyword or keyword phrase of two or three words. This is a word or phrase that best describes what the content of the page is about. This does not go in the keywords field when you are creating the page. Instead you build it into the page in various ways.
2. Page URL: Depending on the site you usually have some control over the vanity URL they give you. Ideally the URL should contain your focus keyword. Example; You might be a business or a band and your overall focus keyword might be your name – youtube.com/user/bobsbagels. This same URL (or a close variation) should be used on all your social network pages and your website home page.
3. Page Title: Your page title on most social networks becomes the meta title for the page. The meta title is part of the pages’ HTML code and isn’t visible unless you view the page source. This is the title that the search engines use as the title of the search result they give. The limit is 70 characters (including spaces). You can use the title to insert other relevant keywords or information such as your location. Example; Bobs’ Bagels – Baked Fresh Daily – Brooklyn, New York Ny. That is only 58 characters and yet there is a whole bunch of information there and your focus keywords are included. Information regarding your product and location is in there too. After all, if you are a small business or indie band, how many people are going to be searching for you by name? Not nearly as many as will be searching for your product in your location.
4. Meta Description: This description is the one that the search engines will use as the description for your page. Again you can put here exactly what you want a new fan or customer to see when you come up in a search. Something to draw them to your page to learn more. Your focus keyword should appear here too. The limit is 156 characters (including spaces) so plan carefully.
5. The content of your site also matters. Ideally the content should have at least 300 words, an image, some outbound and inbound links, a header or two (<h1>, <h2>, etc) and your focus keyword should make up about 1.5% of the words in the content of the page. Obviously this is not possible on every social network so you have to use the elements that you can on each one. Outbound links are easy as you should provide links to your website and other social network pages on each social network page.
6. Backlinks. These are links on other sites or social network pages that point back to yours. They include shares and likes on social networks. The more of these you have the more value the search engines believe your content has. So the more people that like your music video the higher its position will be in related search results and the more people will be exposed to your music for free.
SEO is especially important in a situation where you have a lot of competitors who are promoting their product using similar or identical keywords or descriptions (such as “rock, music”). If you have more likes and shares than they do it may be the single factor that puts your listing above theirs in search results.
SEO On Specific Networks
Twitter: Twitter gives you the least opportunity to influence the meta data on your site. The only thing you can set directly is the meta title as your page title becomes the meta title. Twitter makes your twitter username part of your title and includes “on twitter” as well. You are limited to much fewer than the normal 70 characters because of this. “Street Punk Prod (streetpunkprod) on Twitter” is how the meta title on our twitter page looks. You can also specify the vanity URL which should conform to the description above. There is no meta description tag so the search engines pull a description from your page description and address fields.
Facebook: On Facebook you can again specify the vanity URL for the page and the title meta tag via the page title you specify. The description that is used for the content meta tag is determined by what you enter in the “Company Overview” field.
Linkedin: You can specify the title which becomes the meta title and the vanity URL on a Linkedin Company page. The meta description seems to come from the content of each page.
Google+: With Google+ you can specify a vanity URL and a page title that becomes you meta title. The description in your about section becomes your meta description (the first 156 characters of it anyway). Your Google+ profile is also your Google Local directory profile page and gives you another backlink containing your physical location.
YouTube: Youtube is great because it gives you the most control over the content of your channel page and video pages. On your channel you can specify a vanity URL. You can set the page title which becomes your meta title. In the “About” section of your channel page the first 156 characters become your meta description. You can also specify keywords. On Youtube we recommend using at least one or two keywords. The main reason is because, if you don’t specify any keywords, YouTube inserts some generic ones. Also because the YouTube search engine is a bit different from the main Google search engine.
On individual video pages you don’t get a vanity URL but you can still set the meta title with your page title. The first 156 characters of the video description become the meta description. We advise specifying at least one keyword. Ideally your focus keyword or keyword phrase for the page.
There is a lot more to an ongoing SEO campaign but this is a good foundation. We would be happy to do this for you if you become a client and to devise an ongoing SEO strategy to build your brand. This is equally true for companies interested in business to business promotion. We find that most manufacturing companies are lacking when it comes to basic site SEO.