Unlike a few years ago, the line between SEO and social media is starting to blur. Google and Bing are using social signals more than ever in their ranking algorithms; and they’re not only monitoring what’s happening off your site, but also what’s happening on it.
Today, a good SEO strategy is incomplete without a social component, and a good social media strategy contributes to your SEO initiative. Here are the top 10 tactics you need to employ in 2012 to maximize your online marketing.
1. Get an onsite SEO audit
An onsite SEO audit is the foundation of your SEO campaign. Getting one will help you answer questions like: Are your title and meta tags optimized? How’s your keyword density? Have you correlated certain pages with certain keywords? Is that evident in the copy? Have you done your LSI (latent semantic indexing) research and incorporated it into the copy?
Do you have an html and an xml sitemap, and can Google crawl them? How’s your page load speed?
An onsite SEO audit is relatively cheap, and it’s a one-time payment that you shouldn’t need to address more than once a year.
2. Register your brand name on the major social channels
If you’re reading this and you don’t have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, stop right now and go claim your brand name on both. Simply having a brand presence on these channels will improve your search engine rankings, because it proves credibility and authority to the search engines.
But don’t stop at Facebook and Twitter. Google +, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are all increasing in importance not only in search engine algorithms but also in audience reach.
3. Distribute content via your social channels
Whether you post a new blog and syndicate it via your social channels or simply send a “Good morning!” tweet to your followers, you need to produce and distribute content. Doing so will help to build trust and brand loyalty with your audience while proving to the search engines that you care about your customers; a major indication of credibility.
4. Display your social media “connect” buttons on every page of your website
Allowing your website visitors to easily connect with your brand helps you in several ways. First, it maximizes the value of every website visitor. If they’re not ready to buy your product but they’re interested in doing so down the road, they at least have the option to follow you on Twitter. This allows you to stay in touch, and is much better than a visitor leaving your site without taking any action.
The SEO benefits are also rapidly increasing. Simply having these buttons on your website shows search engines that you care about your social media presence, and that shows credibility of your brand.
5. Enable your visitors to easily share your content with social media “share” buttons
Enabling visitors to easily share your content by giving them social sharing buttons is one of the easiest and most effective ways to essentially crowdsource the syndication of your content in a completely organic way. This was a priority for me on my most recent project, Crackerize.com, where I included social sharing buttons above and below each post, and specifically included text asking the user to share the content if they enjoyed it. Giving my readers the ability to easily share the site’s content has resulted in a steady stream of new visitors from social channels as well as lots of SEO-boosting social signals.
6. Build your email list
With free email management solutions such as MailChimp available, there’s no reason not to build your email list. Capturing value from your website visitors starts with capturing their contact information, and nothing is more valuable than an opted-in email address. Staying in touch with your visitors via an email marketing campaign can yield major returns, even if not right away. I began my career in email marketing and witnessed first-hand the value of an email list. It was the company’s single most valuable asset, by far.
7. Get on the Pinterest bandwagon
By now you’ve at least heard the name, but if you haven’t joined the bandwagon yet, it’s time to do so. Pinterest is an image-based social network that allows users to “pin” images they find and share those images with their connections. Joining the Pinterest bandwagon means more than just signing up for a Pinterest account; it means you need to provide image-based content so that the hordes of hungry pinners can pin it.
Obviously, any time your content is syndicated by someone else, for free, you benefit. But don’t forget about the SEO benefits that result from inbound links as lots of Pinterest users re-pin your content.
Tip: Use Flickr to find a royalty-free image related to your company’s niche. Edit that image to put your own humorous or ironic spin on it, and share that image on Pinterest, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter.
8. Publish awesome content on your blog (lots of it!)
I like to think of every page of content on a site as another hook in the water. The more content your site has, the higher the chance it’ll be returned as a search result, yielding more organic (free) search traffic. But these days, search engine algorithms are sophisticated enough to distinguish between rich, high-quality content and shallow, thin content. So when you post a new article or blog post, ask yourself if you’d be proud to show it to your clients; that’ll be a good indication of whether it’ll help you in the search engines or not.
Aside from the SEO benefits, publishing great content helps to establish you as a credible, authoritative player in your niche. Furthermore, it gives your brand a definitive voice which helps to humanize your brand while giving it an organic touch. Don’t forget to enable and respond to reader comments.
9. Start an SEO link building campaign
If having more content is like having more hooks in the water, then building links to that content is like baiting those hooks. The most important signal to search engines of the quality, relevance, and credibility (and ranking) of a page is the quantity and quality of the inbound links to that page. A good start is to syndicate every new blog post you publish via your social channels, but that rarely is enough to get any serious consideration from search engines. Use social news sites like Digg and Reddit, distribute press releases, curate content on Web 2.0 sites, establish an author profile on high-quality article directories like EzineArticles, leave insightful comments on relevant blogs, participate in forums, and syndicate your site’s RSS feed to RSS aggregators.
10. Author guest blog posts
Make a list of the top 25 dream sites in your industry you’d love to be published on, then reach out to each one and offer to write a guest blog post. If possible, offer something of value in return to show your gratitude. Not only will it help to establish the credibility of your brand, it’ll expand your brand awareness to a new audience.
The SEO benefits are excellent, as well. One inbound link from an authoritative blog in your niche can be worth a thousand times more than a single low-quality link.
By now, you’ve probably realized that executing an online marketing campaign takes time. A lot of time. For this reason, many busy CEO’s on a tight budget find themselves faced with the choice of doing it all themselves, or doing none at all (or only a few pieces of it).
Unfortunately, as the online space becomes more and more competitive, it’s becoming more important by the day to design and execute a robust online marketing strategy that includes all ten of these tactics. Whether you tackle these tactics yourself or outsource them, be sure to include them in your lineup for 2012.