Wednesday, July 25, 2012

5 Ways To Better Integrate Social Media & Enterprise SEO

Social media has a direct and indirect impact on SEO but few large organizations are integrating the two as well as they should.

At the enterprise level, the two disciplines actually have a lot in common beyond the strategic and tactical crossover. Like SEO, social media cannot be segmented as a separate activity or fully owned by any one department.
Yet social media is often siloed within an organization, making it more difficult to effectively coordinate social and SEO. In addition, for every way that social media initiatives can support SEO, there as just as many ways they can create conflicts or issues.
But since overcoming roadblocks and coordinating efforts across multiple departments and business units is already a fundamental part of enterprise SEO, what’s one more thing to deal with?
With that in mind here are five ways to better leverage social media for enterprise SEO.

1.  Google Authorship & AuthorRank

For publishers and content-oriented sites Google Authorship is good initiative for demonstrating the direct connection between social media and SEO to the organization. It is also a good way to foster collaboration since done well, it involves multiple departments.
Design and tech are pulled in to create better on-site author profile pages and for the rel=”author” implementation. The social media and SEO teams educate around effective use of Google+. And at the heart of the effort, the editorial staff provides the content and participation.
The visual author information in the SERPs combined with the Author Stats report in Google Webmaster Tools makes it possible to convey the value through concrete examples instead of just theoretical terms.
Success can then be used to encourage more efforts to leverage AuthorRank to connect author authority and social signals with search visibility in both Google and Bing. It is still early days in terms of the impact of AuthorRank, but it is worth experimenting with.

2.  Train The Social Media Teams

Whether done by the in-house SEO team or an outside consultancy, SEO training at regular intervals is a core part of any enterprise SEO program. While editorial, technical and overall marketing trainings tend to be the main focus, SEO training for any dedicated social media teams is also critical.
Since social cannot be executed by just the social media team(s) it is vital to cover social tactics in editorial and technical SEO training sessions as well. Nowadays, this tends to happen naturally but it is essential to include.
The more everyone in the organization understands the relationship between social media and SEO, the better they’ll be able to execute on it in productive ways and avoid conflicts.

3.  Factor SEO Into The Social Promotion Plan

Organizations involved in content marketing will typically have an established workflow for promotion and user engagement through a variety of social channels, using both brand and staff profiles.
At any given time, new content tends to get the majority of attention which makes sense. However, it is just as important to ensure that high-priority evergreen content continues to be included in the mix.
Additional factors like ensuring that canonical URLs and search-friendly language are used in social promotions are also important to consider.
With language, particular attention should be paid to optimizing the text generated by social sharing buttons. This requires a finding a balance between keyword support for SEO and keeping the titles interesting and engaging enough to draw attention in social.
Some companies address this by incorporating three separate title fields in their content management system:
  1. The on-page headline
  2. The HTML title tag
  3. A separate title for social sharing
This allows each to be customized and optimized differently when and as needed.

4.  Coordinate With Outside Agencies

Larger organizations frequently bring in third-parties for a variety of social media initiatives related to both strategy and execution.
Dedicated social media agencies, PR firms and advertising agencies are typically good with creative and experienced in best practices for social engagement, but they are not always well versed on SEO (even if they claim to be).
As a result, providing oversight and feedback on the SEO implications of their activities is a necessary function. SEO issues related to social are most frequently triggered by well-intended third parties.
On the positive side, the outside agencies are also a great resource to leverage on behalf of SEO. Effective coordination will turn their activities from a potential liability into a good opportunity.

5.  Integrated Measurement & Reporting

Finally, make sure that both social media and SEO reporting are integrated into departmental and company-wide reporting.
The analytics team has likely increased their level of social media reporting in recent years and hopefully comprehensive SEO measurement and reporting is already in place. Cross-referencing the data as much as possible is a good way to emphasize the importance of each and the relationship between them.
Social media reporting is often split between the main analytics solution and a variety of additional sources such as Facebook Insights, Bitly Enterprise and management suites likeRadian6 or HootSuite. Tying all this together is a large project in and of itself, but do make an effort to connect the data to SEO objectives as well.

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