7 Tips to Getting SEO Value Out of Your Social Media Efforts

Recently, I was asked by the folks at MOTM to give a talk on Social Media.  I typically present to real estate audiences, so I decided to rethink my usual approach for this tech-audience.  More than anything, I wanted to present something that was worthy of the group.

After more than a few conversations, I decided to explore the “gray” areas of social media, and especially how you can use social media engagement to improve search engine rankings.  It feels like I’ve been living in this gray area for quite a while now, but I don’t often blog about it because most SEO works best when it is not widely shared. ;)

In terms of SEO strategies, the stuff I presented last night was relatively tame (i.e. on the black hat to white hat scale, the ideas trended toward the lighter side of gray). And at the request of more than a few of the people who attended, I’ve decided to publish (most of) the slides I used in the presentation.

As with most of my presentations, the slides don’t begin to tell the whole story.  That’s especially true with this presentation since the conversation that came out of the slides was by far the most informative part of the evening.

Nonetheless, the 7 tips listed below offer some insight into how you can start to improve your website rankings (SEO) by taking part in various social media sites.

SMM for SEO Assumptions

Assumptions Going Into the Presentation

The four assumptions I start out with are:

  • Off-site SEO is where you can get the most bang for your SMM buck
  • You should focus on anchor text of inbound links whenever possible
  • Social media sites can often pass along ridiculously great SEO value
  • You should focus on DoFollow sites whenever possible
White Hat SMM:  Corporate Blog

Tip #1: Create Value on Your Own Site (URL)

The typical corporate blog is about as white hat as they get in the SMM world. Here the company is trying to outreach to consumers and/or clients by providing useful, interesting or otherwise valuable content and thereby earn inbound links and other positive word-of-mouth from their blogging.

Black Hat SMM:  Automation

Background on Black Hat SMM

  • Automation is not all that effective in social media and often pretty easy to detect
  • While there are examples of useful automation (think: google news), most is spam and does not add value
  • [Note: this slide generated a fascinating conversation at the presentation with an active discussion on the role of automation within social networks.]
Gray Hat SMM:  How Hard You Promote

TIP #2: Promote your Posts... HARD!

  • Level of “gray” really depends on how hard you promote.
  • It’s trivial to join/create a group that attempts to “game” the social news/bookmarketing sites.  Is this “black hat” or just using your social network effectively?
  • [Note: I do have a group for online real estate professionals where we help each other promote posts. It's in invite-only thing, so as long as I know who you are and you run a quality blog, then feel free to let me know if you're interested in joining.]
Create Active Profiles

Tip #3: Create Active Profiles... lots of them

Get Creative With Your Profiles

Tip #4: Get Creative With Your Profiles

  • One example is that you can use delicious to push “topics” to mybloglog to get SEO value from a “nofollow” site
Play Hard on One Social Network

Tip #5: Play Especially Hard on One Social Network

Develop an Exclusive Database

Tip #6: Develop an Exclusive Database

  • If you can develop something that media outlets want to pick up, then it’s quite possible to drive a ton of traffic and great inbound links by feeding them exclusives
  • In the real estate space, this is celebrity listings, but most industries have their exclusive stuff you can mine from databases
HomeSyn:  Real Estate Listing Syndication

Tip #7: Think SEO When Syndicating

  • While this example is specific to real estate, most industry could benefit from thinking of SEO when they push their content around the web.
  • In this case, I work with agents all the time to create listing detail pages on their sites and then make sure that they link back to those listing detail pages in a savvy way to ensure SEO value is getting past to their site whenever possible.
  • It’s worth noting that I created a syndication tool for my real estate clients called HomeSyn that syndicates listings in a savvy way  (i.e. links back to the listing detail page of an agent’s choice whenever possible).   However, it’s an invite-only tool.   If you have some listings and are interested in testing out the tool, let me know and I consider throwing an invite your way.

If you think I’m wrong or have something to add, let’s continue the conversation in the comments… and if you found this information helpful, then help spread the luv by returning to the top of this post and giving it a digg, save, bookmark, stumble, or whatever it is that  you do!

41 thoughts on “7 Tips to Getting SEO Value Out of Your Social Media Efforts

  1. Interesting to think about a “gray” area in social media. So much of it is entertaining and useful in actually building real relationships. It would be hard to do it if one “had” to.

    I’m interested in your HomeSyn I just need to get more listings. :)
    kk

  2. You make a great point… Most of social media is about building relationships and it’s what I enjoy the most. But I think a lot of folks underestimate just how much work goes into promoting posts.

    So many people have a “if I build it, they will come” attitude to blogging. But unless you’re a ridiculously great writer, that method almost never works to drive any serious traffic.

  3. Great article Dustin, everyone knows social media sites are the hot thing, but most people don’t know how to actually gain any real value from it.

    Anyone joining BusinessWeek’s BX can connect with me as well.

    Kristal, you are right on the money, building real relationships is key to everything we do in our businesses whether in person or online.

  4. Interesting to think about a “gray” area in social media. So much of it is entertaining and useful in actually building real relationships.

  5. You know it’s a good article when you book mark it. I will come back to make sure I implement the ideas here that I’m not already doing, like using delicious to push topics to mybloglog, hmm…

    I’m going to have to think about that a little more. I guess Ive never used delicious much and I’m not sure I grasp the idea there. Feel free to help me out here a little. :)

  6. Dennis,

    I love delicious… but I’ve been using it so long (you just inspired me to check and my first social bookmark was May ’05), that I’d use the service even if it didn’t have SEO value. It had a better vibe before yahoo bought the site, but it’s still an incredibly valuable way to save and organize links. I’ve also used it to do some pretty random things (quite effectively I might add) like track internet marketing staff endeavors and RCG’s blogroll.

    Anyway, it’s just so darn easy that when you know there’s a minor SEO kick you can get from tagging things “right”, then it becomes a no-brainer.

    Thanks again for your interest and help spreading word about the post!

  7. These gray areas are pretty intriguing. I use social media to build relationships and have gotten some business from it, but I need to concentrate more on the sites like Digg and Delicious, etc. I help others out there but have never done my own stuff there – need to learn how, I guess.

  8. I definitely notice social media’s impact on my posts, sites whatever. I also think that there can be streamlining without automation. Setting up RSS feeds for say a [re promotions] group makes it quick to be in and out etc.

  9. SEO, linking and such is such a great side effect of utilizing social media. It become a great link building tool, just remember too much is still too much when it comes to google take your time and build slowly.

  10. Thanks for sharing this line of thinking. Most agents I am talking to are frustrated at the amount of time they are putting into social networking expecting it to be a magic bullet. You underscore the importance of having a plan and some understanding of how it all works together.

  11. Your gray areas are my “accidental” areas. I was just playing with friends online, and somehow all these really good opportunities kept throwing themselves at my feet. It would be wasteful not to pick them up and use them.

    I suppose it’s not a bad idea to try to create more of those accidents, right? :)

  12. Sarah: Sometimes I feel like I live to create accidents. But at the same time, I enjoy trying to figure out what’s working out of that play (i.e accident creation) and replicate the good stuff. ;)

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  15. We would be interested in participating in HomeSyn. We are already connected on BusinessWeek BX. We have become a “fan” of your Facebook page.

    Look forward to seeing you at REBCLA.

    Best wishes,
    Fran and Rowena

  16. Social media, and social media marketing will surely help any publisher get a good audience online. So anyone who is serious about boosting site traffic should focus too on these sites.

  17. Manikanda: Glad you liked the post. In terms of connecting with me on BX, it’s as simple as clicking the “add” button on my profile page. As long as someone is promoting interesting links, I’ll normally add them right back. :)

  18. Dustin, great post (s)! i am a little fuzzy on some of the terminology. What’s a “do-follow” versus a “no-follow” site? Kind of like you can “follow” someone on Twitter, and can’t on, say, Digg? (not sure of that, even).

    I would love to see how HomeSyn works – is “syndicating” pushing listings out to various venues? I work full time and have no listings at this time, but would like to know what you mean by “syndicating” listings!

    Looking to connect also via BX/BusinessWeek!

  19. Gina, thank you for your interest!

    A few years ago, Google created the concept of a “no follow” link. A no follow link is one where the words ref=”no follow” are embedded in the HTML code of the link.

    The reason for adding this feature is that google’s ranking algorithms are based HEAVILY on links… and google wanted to provide website owners a way to link out to other sites (like advertisers) as well as let people leave links on sites (like the comments of this blog), without necessarily having the webpage give away “value” to that link.

    Does this super high-level overview make sense?

  20. It does make sense – however that means someone would have to insert the words ref=”no follow” into the link (and I’m thinking “link” isn’t the same as a simple “URL” – yes? and I’m not sure a non-developer would be able to do that. Let’s say I want to link to my web site e-newsletter page. The link would be http://www.mycompanyname.com/myname/newsletter.asp(configured this way so you don’t think I’m trying to spam you!). Is the html *behind* this URL and controlled by the site developer (not me, obviously)? Do non-developers see the “no follow” html code in other links? Sorry to be so obtuse and thank you in advance for your insight.

  21. whoops… I thought if I used the “code” function, it would actually show the code. I’m not 100% sure how to show you the difference other than to cut out the first bit of a link… i.e the “< " and the "a".

    Here's a typical link stucture:

    • href=”http://4realz.net”
    • to make it no-follow, you’d add the code right afterwards:

      • href=”http://4realz.net” rel=”nofollow”
  22. Sharon: Thanks for reaching out… I’m currently retooling the invite-only group. After playing for a while, a few of us realized we needed to re-tool it a bit and we’re currently doing that. Nonetheless, keep checking back with 4realz.net because when I’ll mention it here when it gets relaunched!

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  25. Great post. I do Social Media Marketing and Online Marketing for a living and I picked up some great pointers.

    A couple of quick tips:

    Most blogs are already set up “out of the box” with “no-follow” links so that’s something most people don’t have to worry about.

    When it comes to bookmarking, you should never bookmark your own posts. Ask a friend or relative to bookmark your posts. And don’t have every one of your posts bookmarked. That will be seen as spam. Just have your best ones bookmarked, say, once a month.

    I have a feeling Dustin’s real estate promotion group works on a similar basis. Which is a fabulous idea. Promote each others posts.

    Bob McClain
    WordsmithBob.com

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  27. does anyone know the exact time SEO netlinks is coming out? i heard it’s an amazing way to generate tons of traffic

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