Reaping Value From Online Marketing

February 03, 2012

Increasing visibility with the right marketing mix

To gain the most from your online marketing efforts, carefully mix search engine optimization (SEO) and social media optimization (SMO). This powerful formula can increase your company’s visibility and attract more traffic to your website. It is critical to keep in mind that your strategy must deliver stimulating, insightful content that is on target with current and prospective customers.

Distinguishing the differences and similarities between SEO and SMO is imperative for a successful publicity mix. SEO and SMO are meant to bring your business to the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) and the forefront of online conversations. To achieve this, several elements should work together to maximize results.

Link Building

According to a recent Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, 90% of respondents from more than 50 countries trust online endorsements from their peers. Online recommendations could be Facebook updates with links to your company’s website, e-mails linking to a product description found on your website or tweets mentioning your superior customer service.

Link building fosters the creation of inbound links to your company’s website through third-party individuals. Try writing informative case studies and you likely will find people tweeting links to them. Or post interesting photographs on your website or Flickr account, and visitors may share your projects on their Facebook profiles.

With SMO, inbound links are a result of successful content and they benefit SEO. Consider implementing social features on your company’s website. Adding a “share” button to your Web pages allows users to share directly from your website. Search engines also use comments, bookmarks, votes and reviews to determine relevancy.  

On-Page Elements

Social media efforts require that content be easy to read and redistribute. SEO focuses on how easily your content can be read by search engines. Attract search engines by finding the right balance of keyword density without compromising the quality of your copy. The industry average for keyword density is 2% to 3%.

Keywords are not exclusive to Web copy. Photos, videos and other elements also can be tagged with keywords. For an example of an optimized Web page, see Figure 1.

Progress Report

With any marketing effort, it is important to monitor progress and results. SEO and SMO are ongoing tactics that should be evaluated regularly. Continually research key terms and phrases to include in all of your online communications.  

For SEO, think like a prospect. What search terms do potential customers use to research products or services in your industry? Conduct regular searches on Google, Yahoo and Bing to monitor your company’s listing to adjust your tactics. SEO lends itself to more traditional analysis and measurement, such as overall site traffic.

Social media is both qualitative and quantitative. Monitor the tonality of blog posts, comments and conversations about your business. Review the number of online conversations about your organization, the people that your business engages online, the amount of company content posted and the number of traffic-generating links to your content.
    
Modern Search Strategies

Increase leads by harnessing the combined power of SMO and SEO to rocket your company’s social profiles and website to the top of organic searches. As more Internet users engage with social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, they forgo traditional search engines to find information on the Web.

While Google still dominates the online search market with roughly 10.5 billion searches per month, Facebook and Twitter are luring users away from the traditional search engines. According to a recent Nielsen study, social media sites now account for 18% of all Internet searches.  

SMO means sculpting your online content to be easily found and shared on the Internet through traditional and social searches. To build brand recognition in social networks and stay atop SERPs, smart marketers connect with the public and social media influencers through strategically selected keywords and captivating content.

Google is experimenting with a “human algorithm” for ranking real-time searches. Google also is increasing the amount of social media content it indexes and displays in traditional searches. Get your content in front of key influencers and the public to boost your ranked awareness in traditional and social searches.

Tailoring Your Social Media

Before engaging in a social media network, determine where your target audiences spend the most time online. Is your audience more apt to spend time on YouTube than Facebook? Are they creating Flickr albums instead of tweeting? Once you establish which social media networks best reach your target audiences, dedicate time to establish a strong presence and foster relationships through tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and other social media outlets.

Content is king. This is especially true for social media. While you may be tempted to repeatedly tweet, post, share and link to your own content, too much self-promotion is frowned upon in the social media sphere. Instead, let your brand evolve into a “member of the media.” Create, find and share content that your followers, fans and online peers find useful, unique or beneficial.

Establish a pace and voice to entice your network of peers, prospects and customers to socialize your content. As they retweet, post, comment and share, your followers and website visitors broaden the reach of your content, similar to the “pass-along” effect enjoyed by established media.

Optimize your current content to be easily shared on social networks. This will allow you to tap into your web visitors’ current social media behaviors. If you have an online product catalog, landing page, e-newsletter or blog, there are a multitude of simple elements you can add to let your current visitors saturate the social media sphere for you. To ensure that your business can be found easily in social media searches, consider adding an element such as a Digg icon, Facebook “Like” button, Retweet badge, Share This box, Reddit icon or LinkedIn follow button.

Mary Lou Denny is executive vice president of Walt Denny Inc. Denny can be reached at marylou@waltdenny.com or 630.323.0555.

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