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Yesterday, Walker Sands' very own John Fairley moderated a discussion on social media and search engine optimization (SEO) at the Social Media Breakfast Chicago #3 event hosted by SCORE Chicago. John brought up a lot of great points for discussion in the group about social media and SEO, but after attending and discussing with the group I think there are some key takeaways everyone can start using today.
No doubt social media has a large influence on SEO. Take Walker Sands for example. If you Google a brand, such as ours "Walker Sands", you will find that more than half of the links are influenced by social media. From our LinkedIn account, to Google reviews, to our Twitter stream and even our blog. Social media plays a large part in the content displayed in the search engine results page.
As John put it to the group, all of these social media sites are linking back to your Web site. And even though a lot of sites have adapted no follow links (meaning you may not get the benefit of link juice from them), they are increasing your visibility in the search engine results page.
So what does this mean?
Social media can and does influence your SEO. However, the goals for your brand may determine what strategy works best for you.
If you are an already well established brand, you may want to leverage social media to help you optimize for other keywords and phrases. For example, if chip giant Lays decided they wanted to enter the dessert game and offer chocolate-covered potato chips, simply putting it on their website may not be enough. As part of their marketing campaign they may leverage a blog to discuss the finer points of chocolate-covered potato chips or even YouTube videos about how to make and eat the chips properly. These social media tools in conjunction with their larger marketing campaign will help Lays rank for dessert ideas and chocolate-covered potato chips.
On the other hand, a less well-known and established brand may take a different approach to utilizing social media for SEO. This may include a startup company looking to fill out their brand more strongly. They might focus all of their social media and community building on branded items that help push their name to the top of the search engine results page and help fill out all of the results when someone searches for them.
John Fairley suggests that focusing strong efforts in some channels (the ones that specifically make sense for your business) is definitely better than spreading yourself too thin. He suggests that everyone should get a blog because that is the social media channel that you can most easily utilize to help influence search engine ranking.
Beyond a blog, if Facebook doesn't make sense for your company, wait to use it. But if Yelp or Twitter does, make sure to not only leverage that but to build those communities into strong locations for your brand.
Thanks to John for leading a great discussion on social media and SEO, also wanted to shout out to the group members at the SCORE event that helped keep the conversation so lively!