Social Media Optimization Represents the Latest Chapter in SEO by briansolis


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									Social Media Optimization Represents the Latest
Chapter in SEO

Brian Solis discusses Social Media Optimization (SMO) in his new book Engage,
the complete guide for brands and businesses to build, cultivate, and measure
success in the new Web. You can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

For the sake of reading this chapter in context, SMO should be part of an overall
SEO strategy (SEO + SMO = Amplified Findability in the traditional and social

As a brand, content producer, or publisher, the social web is your new
distribution channel as well as your portfolio for intellectual assets. Whether
you’re in the business of creating, marketing, selling, or distributing media, the
social Web is an incredible medium that can create a brand, establish visibility,
and build demand, all without active promotion. It’s about letting your expertise or
work market itself through the practice of a socialized form of inbound marketing
that helps make content discoverable when people search.
This may sound a bit familiar to you; after all, this is the purpose of search engine
optimization (SEO) right? We know that people use search engines like Google
and Yahoo to find relevant content and as such, we optimize our work so that it is
discovered in search engine result pages (SERPs).

However, the technicalities involved with wiring SEO are not the same processes
required to boost visibility in social networks like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube
and Twitter. And it’s in social networks like these where people are increasingly
spending time communicating, finding relevant and interesting content, and
sharing it with their connections. So now, in addition to SEO, we have to
implement and manage a Social Media Optimization (SMO) program around our
content to increase visibility in these new environments.

A failure to do this could be an enormous loss. Everyday people are taking to
social networks to discover new content in and around their social graph.
According to a recent Nielsen study, social media sites such as Wikipedia, blogs,
and social networks account for 18% of where searches begin, outperforming
sites that are dedicated to publishing information specifically to help individuals
find deeper analysis and details. This is a trend that’s only now gaining
momentum; as Nielsen observes, ―Social Media is becoming a core product
research channel.‖

This momentous shift in behavior represents an opportunity to connect your
value and insight to those who can benefit from it.
I’m not a professional photographer, but you wouldn’t know that from where my
images have appeared. Through the diligent posting of pictures on Flickr and
Facebook, my pictures eventually earned the attention of Hollywood, magazines,
newspapers, blogs, and event organizers. However, it wasn’t the unique quality
of the pictures, the framing of each shot, the artistic views, or the dramatic
compositions of my subjects that earned prominence. It was simply making the
pictures findable by those looking for related content. The same is true for the
many articles and papers I’ve written and published in content networks such as
Scribd and Docstoc.

SMO is defined by the distribution of social objects and their ability to rise to the
top of any related search query, where and when its performed.

At the center of any successful SMO program are social objects. Social objects
represent the content we create in social media, including images, videos, blog
posts, comments, status updates, wall posts, and all other social activity that
sparks the potential for online conversations. As such, the goal of SMO is to
boost the visibility of social objects as a means to connecting with individuals
who are proactively seeking additional information and direction.

Serving as conversational hubs, these social objects are personified by the
pictures we publish to Flickr, the videos we upload on YouTube, the events
posted in, the wall posts shared in Facebook, the tweets that fly
across Twitter, the links bookmarked in Delicious, the votes cast in Digg, the
places we check into on Foursquare, the documents published in Docstoc,
reviews posted in Yelp, communities built around themes in Ning, a thought
shared in a blog post or a blog comment, etc. They are to social media what web
objects, pages, and sites are to the traditional Web. As SEO helps increase the
visibility of content in Google and Yahoo for example, SMO helps build the
essential bridges between social objects and the individuals performing searches
to find relevant content.

Social objects are also the catalysts for conversations and occurrences — online
and in real life — and they affect behavior within their respective societies. Have
you ever wondered how YouTube recommends related videos or how content
within social networks is linked to the keywords you use in search? Search
results in social media are defined by the elements ingrained in each social
object, which is commonly referred to as Metadata. Essentially, metadata is the
data that defines other data.

The Social Web relies on metadata, leveraging ―the crowds‖ to classify and
organize the volumes of user-generated content uploaded to social networks and
blogs everywhere. In some ways, we became the web’s librarians by indexing
the volumes of useful social objects to help others discover them quickly and

At the very least, social objects are contextualized through keywords, titles,
descriptions, and/or tags. Understanding these attributes of social objects, which
is a topic I will discuss next month, is one of the most important aspects of a
successful Social Media Optimization plan.

Now let’s explore explore the five major ways that these social objects can be
contextualized: keywords, titles, descriptions, tags and/or links.

Keywords are the terms that people use to find relevant information in searches.
When selecting keywords for your social objects, it’s important to remember that
the keywords used by customers and influencers are not always what you think
they’d be. To help, I suggest visiting Google Adwords to generate keyword ideas:
It’s also important to use Web analytics on your Website or blog to see how
people are phrasing searches to arrive at your site. This allows you to calibrate
your keywords accordingly.

Titles refer to the official designation or name of your content. Instead of focusing
on a sensational or controversial title as in other forms of marketing, headlines on
the social web should feature title tags and keywords upfront. In Social Media,
your headline must contain the keywords that explicitly match the search patterns
of the people you hope to reach.

Descriptions further refine the context of your social object to entice visitors to
view and circulate your content amongst their social graph.
The description field is your chance to frame an object in order to further
convince the viewer to click through to it. A good rule of thumb when writing
descriptions is to make sure that your copy includes at least three keywords
related to your business/brand and target viewers – without reading as text
explicitly written to manipulate search results.

Tags are keywords that further group and organize your Social Object within the
social network.

Tags are based on folksonomy, a system of classification derived from the
practice of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize
content within specific networks. In order to make sure that your tags are
categorized most effectively, make sure they include keywords related to the
branding and marketing of your product, as well as its competition.

Links are the currency of the Web and serve as the primary undercurrent of
search engine optimization. As in SEO, links help fuel traffic (as measured in
views) to your social object, and contribute to your ranking within initial search
results. Links equate to authority, and by amassing an extensive inbound linking
infrastructure, the visibility of your social object can earn significant inertia. This,
in turn, allows it to traverse from resident social network searches to appear in
matching results in traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

For example, sharing a link on Twitter and Facebook that points back to a video
on YouTube extends the reach of the video to people in one or more forums,
potentially connecting them to your content. If individuals within these outside
social networks decide to share the video across their social graphs, we further
extend the visibility and the authority of each object.

No brand is an island. As many online activities begin with a search, creating and
deploying strategic beacons of information within targeted social networks
creates roads and bridges back to you or the brand you represent. This ―inbound‖
form of unmarketing, enriched through strategic SMO, helps us connect our
value and our story to those who are already searching for solutions and
guidance. We’re either part of the results or we’re unfortunately absent from
further consideration.

While we can’t be everywhere at all times in social media, social objects can
serve as our representatives in order to spark meaningful conversations now and
in the future.

Read Engage today…available online and in bookstores near you.

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