Social networking is here to stay and is becoming more relevant over time. The question is: Is your company taking advantage of this burgeoning trend and using social networking to enhance the effectiveness of your other search engine marketing strategies? If not, you’re missing out on one of the least expensive and most effective ways to increase ranking opportunities, attract the attention of your target audience, and build brand recognition. Here are some ideas for incorporating social networking into your search engine marketing mix:
Create social networking profiles—Register and create profiles with the heavyweights like MySpace, Facebook, and the other usual suspects, but also create profiles with business-oriented networking sites such as LinkedIn and industry-specific sites. Don’t forget to look for local and regional social networking sites, too!
Participate in these communities—One of the best ways to get the most out of social networking is to become an active participant in these communities. Just make sure that your posts add something of value to the communities so that other members are inclined to take you seriously. Most of all, take care to observe the written (and unwritten) protocols of these sites, and don’t feed trolls by rising to their bait.
Include your URL in your signature—After you’ve established credibility with the other members of the community, include the URL of your site in your signature. It’s a great way to increase qualified traffic, especially professional traffic, to your site.
Start your own community on your site—Start a blog and update it often to give your readers a reason to check your site regularly. Consider adding a forum where customers can ask questions and get feedback from you. Your blog posts can range from informative to promotional to humorous and you can whet your audience’s appetite to check back often by introducing exclusive coupons and sales.
Optimize your blog posts—This is a major aspect of search engine marketing. Optimize each blog post to make it as easy to find in a search engine as possible, but always remember not to overdo it. Obvious and repetitive keyword stuffing will reduce linking opportunities and turn off your regular visitors.
Include social bookmarking tools—When a reader likes your content so much that they want to share it with other communities, make sharing as easy as possible by putting popular social bookmarking tools at the end of each post. These include digg, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Facebook, Technorati, and others. Pay special attention to the newer, industry-specific bookmarking tools, too.
These tips work for companies of all sizes and are uniformly effective for boosting your other search marketing methods. You may be thinking, “I don’t have the time to write blog posts or participate in these communities.” But once you get started, these social networking strategies take a surprisingly small chunk of time out of your day and in the big picture, they help make your company more profitable.
Besides, you probably visit many of these sites already when the boss is in a meeting. Incorporating social networking into your search engine marketing just makes your loafing legitimate!