Monday, April 27, 2009

Search Engine Optimization - What Does This Have to Do with Social Networking?

By Lisa Helminiak

Until this year search engine optimization (SEO) was something almost all our clients wanted to talk about. How could they take advantage of it to make their site more visible? What did it mean for their site development or maintenance issues? What keywords should they use to attract buyers, prospects, or partners? SEO was hot!

This year, it’s been a different story. SEO is yesterday’s news. Twitter and other social networks are now on the agenda. Twitter has become the new social media darling and has reignited the conversation about how marketers can gain attention for their brands in the ever expanding social media universe.

It is because of the rise of social media that understanding and practicing SEO is more important than ever.

So, how does this work? First, let’s look at SEO fundamentals. Here are the basics.

1) Keyword Research – What are searchers typing into to Google, MSN or Yahoo to find you? This is more difficult than you might imagine, especially if you work in an industry that likes to make up lots of words.

2) Keyword Strategy - Which keyword phrases you want to rank for (be found on) that will drive traffic, but also convert to a larger business goal. For instance, if you are a Minnesota apple orchard selling apples, let’s say “Honeycrisp” since they are my favorite, you may have better luck finding customers by optimizing on words such as “Minnesota apple orchard” or “Minnesota Honeycrisp apples” rather than “apples”, “apple orchard” or even “Honeycrisp apples."

3) Meta-Data and Content - Use and alignment of meta-data within your site code and aligning this with search optimized page content. Keep each page of your site to one main idea, providing clarity and simplicity to both users and the engines.

4) Design and Development - Technical and design practices to make site content readable and understandable to the engines.

5) Link Building – Driving traffic to your site from links from other popular sites.

Fundamentally, social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. give you other very popular web spaces where you can publish your content. Once you understand your keyword and link building strategies, these can be extended into posts or content uploaded to these site.

YouTube and Flickr, for example, allow you to embed meta-data with your video and photo uploads. Your description on Twitter should use keywords and possible location data to help you be more visible to potential followers. Posting to your own blog or industry blogs can be a great way to build links into your site. SEO strategies are important to understanding how the web works, especially as universal search gets better and better.

SEO is a building block for all online visibility and the more you practice it, both on and off your site, the more visible you will be to the humans you want to reach.

Lisa is a Principal and Strategist at Azul 7, a full-service digital agency in Minneapolis. She will be presenting at the upcoming MNAMA event Search 101 - Strategies to Raise Visibility and Drive Web Traffic on May 5.

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1 comment:

Philip Wocken said...

Thank you for sharing, Lisa! This was a great post that really spelled out some of the basics of SEO. SEO seems to be such a slippery subject for clients to grasp, yet it's so critical to help them understand the power that the combination of SEO and social media can generate. This post will not only provide some useful information to take back to these clients, but also provide a great background and knowledge base to prep us for your MN AMA event on the 5th. Thank you!

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