Social media is a powerful way to reach out to your targeted audience groups. Small businesses, in particular, have turned to it because of its “huge consumer adoption, ease-of-use and low barrier entry,” with 70% using Facebook for marketing and 37% rating it as one of their most effective marketing tools.
Many of you have already set up a Facebook company page, established your Twitter account, joined LinkedIn, or even initiated your YouTube channel. But fewer of you actually know how to make social media work for you. Social results are now fully integrated with search engine results pages on Google and Bing. Not only are social media results displayed in the search results, they are actually criteria for ranking that identify a site’s perceived level of authority for the content it presents and the corresponding search terms. In order for social media to be effective it has to be strategically aligned with search in an effort to build online authority.
Business Development Tips for Building Authority Online
Search and Social Media are connected by content. In order to effectively build and maintain your online authority your strategy must seek to consistently connect your content everywhere it is presented.
Keyword Research & Development:
The first step toward building your online authority is to perform a comprehensive keyword research to uncover the key terms that:
- Accurately represent the highly focused content you present
- Accurately reflect the language used by your targeted audience groups to search for what you offer
- Accurately reflect the ‘authority’ for which you wish to be identified and recognized
This list will become the basis of your integrated local marketing, social media and search campaign around which all content designed to build your online authority will be developed.
Keyword List Segmentation:
Your list should be segmented to specifically target each of your diverse audience groups according to your method of presenting content. For example, you may separate your content by industry sector: pharmaceutical versus food processing. This means you would have one set of search terms for your pharmaceutical audience and another for your food processing audience. It is advisable to include a minimum of one but no more than five keywords per list .The reason for keeping the list small is to ensure your content is highly focused and that it is easy for users as well as search and social platforms to identify the type of content you are presenting.The more narrow your focus the more targeted your online authority will be.
Consistent Online Profiles:
Now is the time to claim your listing in the multitudinous online directories. Start with your Google Places page and your Google Profile page. Then move on to Yahoo Local, Bing Local, CitySearch (for all your city locations), Yelp (for all your city locations), Superpages, and as many of the web directories as you can find that may not be presenting your information accurately.
Since search engines scan the web for information and are now focused on cross-relating all the information they find that pertains to a specific company, it is important to ensure your information is consistent across the web. Consistency must be maintained for:
- Contact information including phone, address, email, and fax
- Profile – what you offer and to whom – use your keywords
- Images – match your content and use your keywords
- Services – use your keywords here
- Categories- select ones that best represent what you offer and in which you would expect to be found
If the web directories allow you to attach other documents, ensure they too are search engine optimized using the keywords from your list. Once again, your keywords are the connecting components that help you to establish and maintain the consistency that builds your online identity and authority for the content you present.
Another important consideration is the way in which your online profiles affect your local and mobile search results. With more than 74% of American users performing local searches (Kelsey Group) and 234 million mobile subscribers (comScore January 2011), companies are relying on their Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and other mobile platform devices, to search and source locally for what they need. Additionally, 25.3% (comScore January 2011) of mobile subscribers access social media and blogs. You can start to see why it is important to achieve and maintain consistency across these platforms. If the search engines can see the consistency it is easier for them to rate your authority and deliver results that help you to reach your targeted audience groups, particularly for the rapidly expanding local and mobile search markets.
Content development is a principle of your integrated social media and search strategy. Here is where the comprehensive research and development of your segmented and targeted keyword lists pays off in spades.
Forming the connective tissues between the content you present on the various online platforms, your keyword lists help you to maintain the consistency needed to establish and reinforce your online authority. Topics can be limitless, but you must never stray from your keyword lists because you run the risk of diluting your efforts. Your content must always be optimized using your lists.
For example, let’s say you manufacture industrial air compressors. You may use your Twitter account to answer questions about “industrial air compressor” size requirements, installation procedures, or repair issues. You may post an article on your blog about the latest technological advances in “industrial air compressor” design stating the benefits to plant or large facility owners and operators. From this blog post you may reference a case study available at your website that illustrates an “industrial air compressor” customer solution and satisfaction story or a white paper that goes into the “industrial air compressor” technology in more detail. You can see how the keywords offer all kinds of relevant topic possibilities but ensure that your content remains highly focused on the terms for which you are trying to achieve authority.
Social media offers a number of content placement opportunities. “Nearly 40 percent of local merchants,” according to the Merchant Circle survey, are using the microblogging platform of Twitter “to build awareness and community around their products and services.” As a result many sourcing professionals and consumers are turning to social networking sites to learn more about a product/service solution or specific company they are considering.
Social Networking Sites include:
The topics you choose to write about should reflect the current interests of your targeted audience groups to ensure your content placement achieves the desired level of reader engagement resulting in:
- Favorable star ratings
Other Third-Party Sites include:
- News sites
- Professional organizations
- Related informational or shopping sites
- Related product and/or service providers
- Manufacturer sites
You also want to encourage readers to forward or share your content by email or through one of the social media Share networks like:
Social media and search are not magical. They require planning, tracking, and managing by a team with the requisite skills to get the desired results. Through an understanding of the inter-relationship between your content that appears on your website, your blog, any third-party product, news, review, directory, or informational sites, and all social media sites, you can start to develop and maintain a schedule of content delivery that works collectively to establish and maintain your authority online for the keywords and phrases that correspond to the content you present.
Search Engines will then feel confident to deliver your results as a relevant and authoritative option for their users, allowing you to benefit from the branding and lead generating opportunities that local, mobile, and national organic top listings provide.