written by Sean Enns | March 1st, 2013
Sculpting Social Content for SEO
In the world of SEO, we’re told that in order to rank, we need links. Lots of links. Because links are votes, like, votes of confidence from people that like our content.
The operative word there, if you didn’t catch it, was “like”.
Some things haven’t changed. You still need to create great content, because there’s no faking it with content that people just aren’t that in to.
But ultimately, while Google and Facebook are fighting for online supremacy, Google’s primary goal is to provide relevant results on queries. To get that information, sometimes they have to dig deeper than a backlink profile and examine a site’s social activity.
So, if an item is socially relevant, even if it’s not being linked to or mentioned outside of social media, does it deserve to rank for a query based solely on its social merit? If you ask me, the answer is “yes.”
I’ve seen evidence of this happen, in cases where the social conversation on Facebook was well ahead of any mentions in the blogosphere and social bookmarking sites; where content that generated a lot of conversation ranked for a given query in a very short period of time (I’m talking, 3-4 hours). It’s how we create links, not by targeting the top-level keywords (we still do that), but by targeting keyword abstracts.
An Aside on Abstracts
Abstracts are phrases that are not part of your main keyword targets but are still semantically related to your top-level keyphrases.
If “Fishing Charter” is my top level phrase, I might also be targeting secondary phrases like “Salmon Fishing” or “Sport Fishing.” All of those are obvious choices, and at the risk of carrying this metaphor too far, they’re not prime fishing grounds to catch links.
Instead, you’ll want to target the abstracts (as an example, let’s pick the Shimano Symetre 2500Lf fishing rod), and craft a piece of content around it. You could do a hands-on review, you could do a comparison to other rods, it doesn’t really matter – so long as you bring something new and interesting to the table.
Make it Social
The key to social success is creating content that your friends’ friends’ friends share (that’s a friend of a friend of a friend), and it all starts with a headline. You’ll want something evocative, something that challenges people to read further. One great suggestion is to write 10 or more headlines and pick the best one.
For example, if I see the headline “Hands-on review of Shimano Symetre 2500Lf”, I’m likely to move on unless I’m really interested. However, if I see “Shimano Symetre 2500Lf , best rod of 2013?”, I’m curious. Is it the best? I might want to read and find out.
Also, keep it short. Having a headline that’s longer than 140 characters means people have to re-write it to re-tweet it.
The description is equally important, e.g., “We take the Shimano Symetre 2500Lf to its breaking point during a hands-on trial, you won’t believe what we discovered!” is a much better description than “Please like and share our hands-on review of the Shimano Symetre 2500Lf.” Challenging my ability to comprehend something will always get me to dig deeper.
Use a picture that inspires action. A picture of a fishing rod is nothing compared to a picture of someone fighting a giant salmon
And if it’s a good post, if you’re proud of it, it pays to promote it. Promoting posts costs about $3.00/day and guarantees better visibility. Even though the ROI on Facebook is terrible, it’s still worth spending the equivalent of a double-double to make sure your stuff gets seen.
Do you have any social media success stories? I’d love to hear them!