I’d like to introduce a new phrase: Combined Search Optimisation. What I am referring to is the fact that to attract web traffic effectively today, your website needs to have the scope to be found on various different (chiefly Social Media) channels – not just in search engine result pages. As an added benefit though, being found in these places will lead to increased visibility with search engines.
This article summarises the best places to be found, how to gain a presence in those places and how to position your website for maximum visibility in relation to this. In other words: how to improve your Combined Search Optimisation.
Despite the continuing popularity of the larger search engines, recent reports have shown that Facebook, with over 130 million unique users per month, has now overtaken Yahoo and is fast closing on Google in terms of being the World’s most visited site. So, how to get a presence?
- Build a fan page – this can carry branding and acts as your main presence on Facebook. You can communicate to fans through updates, pages are indexed in Google searches. Page updates can be linked to Twitter updates and also host applications.
- Build a group page – more personal than fan pages, have defined administrators and allow emails to members.
- Start a cause – like groups, but for non-profit organisations.
- Build an application – a great way to engage users whilst promoting your brand, by providing a fun, interactive game or utility, that can easily spread virally if executed correctly.
- Plan a campaign – you can use existing Facebook functionality strategically to create a viral effect and get some great results. A good example of this is Ikea’s Facebook campaign promoting a new store launch utilising profile pages and picture tagging functionality.
- Link from your website – as on this website, you can link to your facebook fan page/profile from your website, attracting more fans.
- Autopost articles to your group or profile page through autoposting services like Posterous.
- Use social bookmarks to entice users to share articles on Facebook.
With restrictive bandwidth and download speed concerns becoming a thing of the past across most parts of the world, it’s increasingly important to have a video presence for a few reasons.Videos engage users, being a fast and personal way to get a message across. They can also make your small to medium size business website look more professional. Aside from this, there’s another very good reason to use videos: posting to popular video hosting websites will get you extra traffic, both from searches on those websites directly and in SERPs, which include video results. YouTube is still the most popular, fast approaching 100 million unique visitors per month. Some guidelines for maximising your YouTube potential:
- Create a YouTube ‘channel’ containing your branding.
- Add relevant keywords for your videos in the title, description and tags. Follow similar logic to optimisation for page titles on your website.
- Tags should contain various combinations of keywords that your target audience might be searching for, most popular first.
- The description is your sales pitch – entice users to watch your video by making it sound useful/exciting.
- It sounds obvious, but make sure you choose a relevant category.
- Link to your channel from your website.
- Embed videos from your channel on your own site within articles/blog posts.
- Prompt your website visitors to rate your videos if they’ve found them useful.
There is good reason to use Twitter, with a growing number of Twitter clients in use, allowing content and links to be discovered in search results from many sources. On top of this, Google indexes Tweets and includes them in realtime search results within the SERPs, so it’s well worth having a presence.
- Select an appropriate username – it should be relevant to your subject matter and bear in mind it becomes part of your URL and will also be used within retweets, so keep it snappy.
- Choose a descriptive account name – it doesn’t need to be the same as your username and won’t be used in your URL, so can be more descriptive and express brand.
- Optimise your bio text – you have 160 chars to sum up your mission statement and it will be indexed by search engines, so treat it like an extended home page title.
- Tweets are like website page titles – make them keyword rich, but natural and sum up any articles you’re linking to accurately. There’s no point in attracting users to click, then having them leave your site immediately not finding what they want.
- The first words of a tweet (roughly first 40 chars) are most important, so start with the top keywords.
- Be retweetable – try to keep tweets under 120 characters or thereabouts so RT @username fits in the tweet.
- Retweet other useful and relevant articles from other websites to gain followers in your area of expertise. The more followers you have, the more people to listen when you tweet links back to your own articles.
- Consider using a plugin like BTE’s Related Tweets to automatically Tweet about relevant links to articles on other websites every so often to gain followers.
- Link to your Twitter page from your website (as I have).
- Link back to your website from your Twitter page (although it’s nofollowed, it’s well worth doing for traffic & recogition).
- Again, autopost links to your articles on Twitter from auto posting services like Posterous – it’s a good source of traffic.
- Use social bookmarks on your website to entice users to share your articles on Twitter.
Digg can be a great source of traffic – if you can gain momentum, the viral effect can see many others digg an article on your website. With almost 40 million visitors per month, it certainly can’t be ignored as a driver. As a bonus, links are currently not nofollowed, so there’s also an opportunity to gain some ‘link juice’, albeit somewhat transitory. Some tips to use it to your advantage:
- Digg your own articles – this is perfectly ‘legal’. It also gives you a chance to craft the title and description.
- …but don’t sell articles too obviously – make descriptions natural and accurate.
- Bear in mind that obvious commercial links are not allowed and will be removed and likely lead to a ban.
- You’ll get the most out of Digg by posting links that are genuinely useful and intriguing. If you do wish to promote something that might be more commercial in nature, consider promoting a less self-serving piece of content, which then links on to your real target.
- Since Digg by default suggests a webpage page meta description as the strap-line, it’s another reason to ensure that this is a really effective (but natural) sales pitch for your page and entices people to read on.
- Prompt friends & followers to digg your article links.
- Use Digg Alerts to tell people when you’ve posted an article on Digg – this is a useful way of spreading the word and attracting more diggs.
- Use social bookmarks on your website to entice users to share your articles on Digg.
A similar sort of social browsing concept to Digg, but with its roots in semantics rather than vote based recommendation, StumbleUpon has been hailed by many in the SEO world (including Rand at SEOmoz) as a top traffic source. A few ideas on how to get the most out of it:
- As with Digg, it’s okay to post your own articles, but obvious commercial plugs won’t work well and can lead to a ban.
- Use multiple tags and make sure they’re relevant.
- Research popular topics by browsing and consider posting in areas that aren’t necessarily the topic of your mission statement, but are related to a specific article you’re posting.
- Download the toolbar and start using it yourself to familiarise yourself better with what works and what’s popular.
- Make friends on StumbleUpon.
- Become part of the community to gain respect for your posts and build traffic. Don’t always post links to your own website.
- Use social bookmarks on your website to entice users to share your articles on StumbleUpon.
SEO today is no less important than it ever has been, with more visitors using search engines than ever. However, with the popularity of Social Media sites and a growing number of web users being influenced by community based personal recommendation, there are a lot of new opportunities to optimise your website and conduct online marketing effectively, which should not be missed. So don’t just count on Search Engine Optimisation – consider your Combined Search Optimisation.