I first learned about SEO in my editing class at the University of Florida. I didn’t pay attention. Not because I wasn’t interested, but more than likely I was either suffering a slight hangover from the previous night or was too enthralled with the daily sudoku in our student newspaper. Don’t judge me: I was a college student and that’s just what we did.
Granted, I probably should have paid a little more attention to that class, considering 6 years later, SEO is part of my chosen profession. Regardless, I never really stopped learning, and now, I like the actual learning part better. (Students, please don’t take this as another reason not to pay attention in class.) Whereas in college, learning was the primary objective but not always what I wanted to do, now, all I want to do is know what’s happening. Facebook and Twitter make that easy to do. I’m always scouring the Internet for anything new and noteworthy that’s going on in Web marketing. Recently, that buzzword has been SMO, social media optimization.
Social media has made everyone a reporter. People like to share, people like to be the first to share, and people like to know when others share what they shared. So as journalists, bloggers, creators of content, or whatever term you most identify yourself with, it should behoove you to make sure whatever content you are posting online, you make it easy for your users to share. Just take a look at these analytic reports from some top brands in this chart from Gigya.
Social networks aren’t just there for connecting; they’re quickly becoming the top traffic sources for your website. Getting people to share and spread your content has never looked more appealing. An easy way to do that is to include those people, the exact people that you hope will read and share your content, in your content. More than being a part of breaking news, people love getting credit for what they did: People love getting noticed. And when they see they’re mentioned in something you produced, they’re more inclined to share it with their network. That’s viral marketing in its purest form. In an article on MediaShift, Roland Legrand hooked me onto Storify as an easy way to make that possible. This short video has a good overview of what it’s all about:
You do need an invite code to gain access to Storify, but you can request one on their website.
While Storify is likely a lifesaver when it comes to integrating social media into your content, it can’t be the only thing you rely on for SMO. Here’s a quick list of things you need to do to get the most of your, and others, social networks. You can also see a great explanation of how-to SMO over at Benjamin Gauthey’s website.
1. Write it: As with anything you do online, seriously incredible content should be your main objective. The better, more enticing content you provide, the more likely people will spread it as fast as lice in a kindergarten classroom.
2. Optimize it: If you know SEO, this will come as second nature to you whenever you write. Since the point of SMO is to increase your brand exposure and (ultimately) help your rankings, make sure your keywords are not only in your content and title but also are getting some social buzz.
3. Share it: If you don’t already have a “Like” and “Tweet” button on each of your blog posts, you fail as a blogger. Harsh? Yes. But if you want your stuff to spread, make sure you make it easy for your readers to share it.
4. Spread it: Don’t just rely on others to do the sharing. Leverage your Twitter and Facebook followers to initially put the word out there. Then, don’t forget to bookmark it on sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious. Quora may also be worth looking to see if anyone out there is asking questions about the topic you’re covering.