Numerous companies are losing vast amounts of revenue due to their web sites doing poorly in the search engines. Web sites that are not easy to find via search miss out on attracting new customers as well as repeat customers that use Google to navigate sites they already know about. Is the same true for web sites that are not social media friendly?
People discover new sites through search, but also through recommendations made via email, word of mouth and through social media content. Making a web site social media friendly will facilitate the saving and sharing of content with others, extending reach and facilitating engagement.
Consumers find new content via social networking sites ranging from links on Twitter to Facebook to their favorite blogs. Content creation and links that occur as an outcome of social media participation can provide positive signals to search engines and affect search visibility. Making a site more social media friendly will expand the opportunity for content to be discovered directly and indirectly.
Search is the most efficient and effective way for consumers to discover content. Companies that want to take advantage now of where trends in information publishing, discovery and marketing would do well to ensure their content strategy factors in the value of search as well as social media.
Core concepts to understand search engine friendly web sites includes:
- Crawlable content
- Site organization
- Internal links
- Keyword usage – content optimization
- Code/HTML optimization
- Inbound links from external web sites
The notion of “search engine friendly” basically means making a web site easy for search engines to find, make a copy of, understand and rank in search results. Search engines are by no means perfect, not even Google. Making web sites more search engine friendly means making up for shortcomings in the search engines’ ability to crawl, index and sort web content.
This is why SEO is an important asset to the performance of natural seasrch results. All major search engines invest in continued improvements in order to achieve a better search experience for users. Some of the things that SEOs have traditionally done for web site publishers are now handled automatically by search engines such as many of the features included in Google’s Webmaster tools.
Improving a web site’s availability to search engines as well as keyword usage and links (internal/external) helps the search engine provide better search results to consumers. It’ also helps companies marketing their products and services to attract more qualified buyers. Not only can web site traffic increase, but the right kind of visitors will self segment themselves by the keywords they use to search.
Many companies have the search issue handled or at least they’re on their way. A recent study by eMarketer shows B2B companies rate Search Marketing as one of their top marketing investments for 2009. A poll run on Online Marketing Blog with well over 500 responses also ranked SEO as a top digital marketing tactic for 2009.
Standard search is evolving but it’s not enough to remain competitive to focus on standard Search Engine Optimization tactics. The social web is the web of the near future and real time search results through services like search.twitter.com or even the new sort by recency option within Google are giving consumers more control over the freshness of the information available to them.
The increasing demand for fresh, live web content as well as the expectation of consumers to interact with what they find in the search results demands that web site owners and content publishers make their web sites both search and social media friendly.
Here are a few ways web sites can make themselves more “Social Media Friendly”:
- Fresh content – To play the search and social media game, a web site must be in the content publishing business. Search engines and participants of the social web respond favorably to the signals created from frequent updates. Participation in off site social channels can be brought into the corporate web site through RSS or widgets providing web site visitors access to additional forms of information and interaction with the company.
- Social content – Not all of a company’s social web participation needs to happen offsite with third party tools. The addition of a blog, reviews, forum or even a social network to the company web site can provide intersted consumers opportunities to interact with other brand fans as well as the company.
- Easy to share – Besides the ability to contribute to conversations happening on a corporate web site, there’s a tremendous opportunity and benefit to making it easy for site visitors to share that content with others. Many sites offer “share this” options that make it easy for readers to submit the page being viewed to popular social bookmarking and social news web sites such as Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. Sharing options for Facebook, Twitter and email are also popular.Making it easy for web site visitors to share interesting content (web pages, video, images) facilitates the word of mouth recommendations people make in real life, except when done online, they become searchable assets.
The advantages of incorporating social features include improved online word of mouth, stimulating conversations with prospective customers and advocates and expanded market reach. The question is, are web marketing teams incorporating a social media strategy with their overall search marketing and vice versa?
Are you making your web site search engine friendly for the social web?
You can find 5 ways to make your web site search engine and social media friendly in this companion blog post at Mashable.