With the intersection of Social and SEO happening at a rapid pace, now is the time when you need to lay the groundwork in your social campaign to capture SEO value. As a B2B marketer, one of the key benefits to your social campaign is in its ability to help influence the buyer journey across all stages of the marketing lifecycle.
In a recent Forrester study on the topic of social media in B2B, their research highlighted some of the dimensions that B2B tech buyers consider when determining a purchase plan.
When we consider the impact of the social engagement, we naturally want to have our services and products positioned across this decision cycle. But the question is, how do engage in this environment with scale? How do we make sure we are ‘found’ when there is purchase decision being made across this ecosystem?
Leverage Social Assets To Rank In Search & Be Found
This is where the domain of Social SEO has a big part to play in making sure we are findable through leveraging social media. This will be especially valuable considering the indications from Google and Bing that these signals will be instrumental to the search algorithms moving forward.
When you consider the continuing evolution of personalized search, every B2B social campaign must be factoring in SEO strategies to not only engage your customers, but to rank in the circles and networks in order to gain the visibility of your community.
With this in mind, here are five key steps to getting your SEO aligned to your social marketing efforts.
Step 1: Understand Your Social Media Footprint
In order to truly appreciate the potential of how Social SEO can help your B2B marketing efforts, you must first know where you have social presence and where you do not. With this in mind, conducting a social media audit is the first step to consider.
At its core, SEO is about leveraging information to be found when someone is looking to answer a question. This is also true for SEO in Social – in order to influence rankings, you have to have ‘content’ or information that is findable.
The added complexity is that you also have to have the people who are finding and engaging with your content. The content includes information from traditional brand sources, but also includes the activity of your social relationships.
In this way, your social footprint encompasses:
- Social Profile & Relationships: What is your current user engagement? What are the reach, influence, and trust across all of the brand’s active social media?
- Brand Assets: What content assets exist and are they configured to facilitate user engagement and social interaction:
- Is the domain getting shared, voted, engaged with?
- Are there structural issues preventing proper signal attribution such as improper redirects or canonicalization errors?
- Is content properly attributed to the right author?
Once you are able to identify how you are positioned and involved socially, you can begin to make assessments on where there may be gaps and opportunities.
Step 2: Spotlight competitive approaches
After you know where you are standing, the next step is to understand where your core competitors are positioned and influencing discussion. This is not only important from a business intelligence perspective, but also because there are strategies that can be developed to differentiate your offerings.
This consideration is especially true in B2B marketing with the buyers’ journey being so complex, and the decision process being intrinsically tied to differentiation.
Once you identify their position, you can then begin to formulate a matrix of opportunity to position your content in the social market. Every business will have unique needs, but a matrix might examine:
- Does competitor’s social media presence contain a healthy mix of Social SEO elements?
- Is the competitor actively optimizing site content?
- Is the competitor ranking well in organic search?
- How do your social media & SEO presence compare to those of direct competitors?
Knowing what your competitors are doing enables you to make strategic decisions about where you want to focus your social SEO resources.
Step 3: Optimize Your Social Profiles
Now that you have a clear understanding of where you are and what your competitors are doing, the next step is to optimize your social profiles.
For SEO, this will mean Google+ in particular. With so much of the current search landscape being Google dominated it does not take too much imagination to consider how valuable this will be to your SEO effort.
This is especially true when you consider the direction that Google is taking in trying to assure dominance against competitors like Facebook and Bing. When you add to this to scalability of turning the human networks into algorithmically relevant signals it’s simply a question of when this will be into mass production as a major variable in rankings.
To make sure you are prepared to fully capture Social SEO potential, make certain you optimize your profiles on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook to gain rank on the first page in Google for core brand terms.
The key is to optimize profile copy and attributes to reflect core brand and non-branded keywords. Additionally, make certain to inter-connect social profiles and websites while also optimizing social assets such as photos and videos.
Step 4: Optimize Your Relationships
Where Social SEO and social marketing have very interesting crossroads is in the optimization of relationships. Currently, social networks and the manner in which these relationships exist can vary based on the audience and the network.
Consider the difference in how the business community leverages LinkedIn compared to how consumers use Facebook. These are totally different environments with different rules and expectations, but both networks are based on relationships that are on built on dimensions of trust and credibility.
It is through understanding the variables of trust and credibility, no matter the network, that you can begin to think of your relationships as highly credible sources of relevance. Additionally, the relationship is becoming the medium, and your brand assets can be thought of as signals that are carried over these relationships.
The trust factors of Social have made social ranking signals a key innovation to evolve the search engines’ ranking algorithms. The search engines aim is to provide searchers with relevant information no matter the dimension, and understanding the social graph allows them to deliver a highly personalized series of results.
When they can serve up the most relevant results, everyone benefits. With this in mind, build the foundation for a Social SEO program that aims to capitalize on this latest evolution on the search world, and your business will be well positioned across the entire B2B purchase cycle.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.