Content Strategy, Social Media, & SEO (Or How to Get the Girl—or Guy—of your Dreams)

There’s a lot of chatter among SEO strategists about “social signals” and how they affect the outcome of a business’s overall SEO strategy. I want to share an analogy I used recently to explain social signals to a client regarding their use of social media to drive business back to their site.

Think about how your business uses your social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Think honestly about your approach. Do you create a blog post or press release or other piece of content and then plaster it all over the walls of your social networks? Now unless you’re a large brand with a huge social media following, my guess is that strategy isn’t working out for you—meaning maybe one or two “likes” at most. Certainly it’s not going viral. Am I right?

Why is this happening to you? Are you just not cool enough?

Not at all! Assuming your content is super cool, you just need to focus on your approach.

Here’s the deal: posting content willy-nilly on social networks is a bit like walking up to an attractive girl or guy at a club, tapping them on the shoulder, and blurting out “Hey! My name is Pat and I’m really interesting!” Imagine the response you’d get! A blank stare and a polite “Oh, nice to meet you. Just a sec, I think I see my date over there. ” A bit like what happens when you post to Facebook with “your most recent blog post” approach, no? No reaction. Or worse.

Social Signals

Now let’s imagine this scenario for a moment: two girls at a club, lots of dudes all around them, vying for their attention.  Girl A leans in to Girl B and says, “So I met this Guy over there and he was really interesting. I think you should meet him, too!”  Do you think Girl B’s curiosity would be sparked enough to pursue meeting Guy?  Girl A is much more likely to pay attention and take note of Guy now that he’s got a vote of confidence from her friend. So in my analogy Girl A is now “following” you on a social network and hanging on your every word.

You’re In!

We all have to start somewhere, and a real social media following and strategy takes vision, a consistent voice, and persistence over time. Don’t get discouraged if your first few blog posts don’t generate the votes you had hoped for.

People are bombarded by marketing messages daily, so they will naturally select only the ones they like the most to share with their friends and followers.

Focus on who you are writing to, what those people need, and how to solve their problems. This is a tried and true formula for creating a great blog and a social media following around your content.

The Vote

Once you have written a few blog posts, if your content is up to par, you should start seeing some votes—re-tweets, likes, and +1’s.

If you’ve been at it for six months or more and you aren’t generating much of a response, it may be time to go back to the drawing board with your content strategy.

I find Copyblogger to be helpful with writing—from defining your audience to crafting your approach to formatting your posts.  Perhaps it’s just the headline that ails you? A “top ten list” headline always pulls readers in, as does a curated list of some of the best content in your niche. These are posts followers love to share.

The point is that the elusive “girl or guy of your dreams” is the followers you hope to get sharing and tweeting your content on their own networks. Each share is a vote in the eyes of the search engines.

How this Affects your Ranking

Every time someone shares your content on social media, it not only drives traffic to your site but creates a link from an authoritative site back to your homepage and  brand.

Why This is Good

The girl or guy of your dreams built a link for you! This link now has the opportunity to create a butterfly effect (go “viral”) by getting more people posting and creating links for you. Linkbuilding is hard work. Why not have your followers help out with the load?

More links means higher rankings in Google. Even with all the Penguin and Panda updates, that has not changed. If you want your site to rank, you need stellar on-page optimization (a subject not covered in this post, but will be covered on this blog), and a lot of links.

Remember: not all links are created equal! The ones heading back to your site need to come from sites with some page rank and authority. 

A Few Good Sites

Sites you can initially focus on getting links from include: niche directory sites (don’t bother with the paid ones unless they are very relevant to your business category) and social media sites like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Also, bookmark i.e place your content links on StumbleUpon and Reddit (some people like Digg and Delicious, too).

Have a cool infographic or video? You can add infographic and video submission sites to your list of where to submit content. I like this list of linkbuilding lists from Cucumber Nebula.

Total Panda and Penguin friendly strategies. Just don't spam anyone with your links! Meaning don't post your link to any one site more than once. Let your followers post for you too.

The girl or guy of your dreams is out there just waiting to hang on your every word and tell friends all about you.  Your content and social media strategy need to be focused on this question:  how can I successfully approach  my dream person? Start by thinking about who you want to be and write about that. Then ask yourself, “How does who I am help people solve problems?” When this is your approach, the rest will follow.