Lee Odden

5 Key Questions on Social Media, Content & SEO

audience social media seoA few weeks ago, @aknecht and @SocialMichelleR had me on their #socialchat and as I am prone to do, I ask for questions in advance and try to answer them so when the actual Twitter chat comes, I’m ready with robust content and links instead of thinking of everything on the fly. The result is a richer experience for all I think. It’s also a source of content that one can use for a blog post. Like this one 🙂

According to Hashtracking, that #socialchat was quite active, with 523 tweets, 76 contributors, a reach of 291,000 and 3.2 million impressions. It’s amazing how much potential reach is possible through a well attended chat on Twitter.  I did a #blogchat with @mackcollier before BlogWorld LA and we posted huge numbers: 4k tweets, 800+ contributors, reach of 3+ million and over 29 million impressions.  Twitter chats are growing in popularity and such scheduled gatherings have extended to other platforms like Facebook and Google+.

Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper recently covered the topic giving some great examples of how locally focused Twitter Chats are bridging online social media with real world connections. And that brings me back to the topic of this post – Social Media, Content and SEO: What do marketers need to know to bring those disciplines together and why?

I’ll dig into the topic in a Q/A format as used in #socialchat which I think is a great, practical example of this intersection.

In simple terms what is the connection between social content & SEO?

The simple answer is customers. People use search & social to discover content. Search engines & social platforms like content because it creates the basis for advertising opportunity. My favorite metaphor is Content = Bread, SEO = Peanut Butter, Social = Jelly. PBJ marketing. 🙂

social seo content

Customer-focused content is created w/ purpose. SEO & social are manifestations of what people care about to attract & engage. Customer needs, interests, pain points, motivations + brand goals feed an Optimize & Socialize content strategy. Anyone, heck everyone is a publisher now. Brands and consumers can easily create & share media 24/7. Search & social optimized content with a purpose attracts & engages customers to buy and share with other buyers. That’s in contrast to keyword list optimization that’s focused on top of funnel traffic to a website.


  • 53% of time on the internet is content consumption. (AOL Nielsen)
  • 27 million pieces of content are shared per day (AOL Nielsen)
  • Content Creation was cited as the most effective SEO tactic (& the hardest) in MarketingSherpa’s 2011 SEM Benchmark Report


Do specific types of social content have a bigger impact on SEO?

Types of content that are good for SEO need to be good for people first (in my opinion).   Content & media that gets shared, linked & acted on most, has a bigger impact. People are savvier about what’s “good” vs. what’s mechanical. That’s the problem with how many companies are approaching their social participation. They’re focused on on scale with the least amount of resources. That often results in a more “mechanical” approach when it’s a “meaningful” approach that matters more in terms of building community, growing a network and engagement.

social content

Here’s a thought for you as you’re reading this post: What’s social content? Content that exists on social platforms or websites with social features?  I’ve always said great content isn’t great unless it gets consumed, shared & linked to. It’s the old, tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a great infographic, video, blog post etc is created but no one (substantially) sees or shares it – is the content really great? I say no. Promotion is essential along with thoughtful creation.

What writing styles should copywriters implement to ensure maximum impact on SEO?

Always test what works with the community you’re trying to engage: Hypothesis, test, refine, repeat. If you’re optimizing for customers and outcomes, then that should influence your style first and foremost with SEO a close second. Keep in mind the potential impact of a social share vs. a link from another site as well as the relevance to different audiences. If your objective is thought leadership, then your audience for the content will be influencers in the industry. If your objective is lead nurturing or customer acquisition, then your audience will be buyers. Style of content should follow the objective and audience accordingly.

social content writing style

Attention spans online are short & even shorter with social content. Write scannable content, headlines, bold, bullets. Your reader should be able to discern the key points of your content in just a few seconds, then dig in for more if they want to.  Also, headlines are gold. Make sure your headlines are compelling to read AND share.

Create modular messages from short to long and media specific for a diversity of options that you can use in different situations and on different platforms. By “modular” I mean: Short (like tweets, Facebook or G+ updates), Long (blogs, articles, press release) or something more media specific (video, infographic, audio).

What’s the most common mistake made when preparing copy for social & SEO?

Not understanding what motivates people to search & share & what that means for content style, format & promotion.  Another mistake is over emphasizing popular keywords straight from Google AdWords keyword tool – basically crappy writing. Yet another mistake is poor quality messaging, irrelevant incorporation of keyword targets in body copy and “filler” pages to look big.

How can an organization best leverage social & onsite content from maximum SEO effect?

Of course the Content Management System, web page templates, code, tags, feeds and other similar aspects of the site need to be optimized right along with content. A lot of SEO is about making things easy: For search engines & crawling.  Ease of sharing is also important: “social media friendly”. Connect the site with sharing features into Facebook, G+, Twitter & where the target audience shares. Leverage resources to create fresh (as in new and updated) content that’s sharable and promote to social networks and other channels of distribution.

How are you incorporating SEO, Social Media and Content in your online marketing mix?  If you are, what are is driving the effort? Is it Marketing, PR, Sales?





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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Hi Lee

    Totally agree when you say that content that is good for SEO needs to be good for people first. Yes it needs to be original, fresh and regular but at the end of the day it needs to add value to people, otherwise they will not share it. After all, that is one of the main benefits of social media, the speed at which your content can travel and the reach you can achieve. I always write with the reader in mind above all with the view that if they like it, they will share it and as a result the search engines will like it.

    Good post BTW


  2. Avatar Xavier Vanek says

    Great article. Social media is having a great impact on the digital marketing field.

  3. SEO is really having a great impact on digital. Marketers coming out of college really should look into this field.

  4. Amazing articles, I love it as I love almost all your blog posts, but this one will require a second read and maybe more for me to understand 

  5. It only makes sense that customers connect SEO and social media together, or more likely, human relationships are amplified on the digital plane.  I think it will all come down to striking a balance between the right keywords that will help people locate you on the searches, plus, humanizing content that keeps the conversation burning about what you share on the Social Web – which makes for a winning strategy.  This takes mastery though, and I’d say it’s an art all on its own.

    • That’s a great observation aaroneden – strike a balance between optimizing for search engines and people. I agree, it does take mastery.  

    • That’s a great observation aaroneden – strike a balance between optimizing for search engines and people. I agree, it does take mastery.  

  6. It really requires great insight into what your target consumers are more than likely interested in, in order to achieve a triumphant social content. Research, diligence and awareness are just starting points in this field.

  7. Avatar Craig Desmarais says

    I have been using social media not only to share content that is valuable to others searching for answers on the search engines but I am using it to also listen and identify new needs, prospects as well as for networking purposes.

  8. Social media marketing and SEO is totally indispensable in today’s marketing strategy. The benefits are enormous.

  9. I agree with you.Today lots of people are use search and social discover to content.Good content are impact on seo also for people.The content should follow the objective and audience accordingly.Your post is really helpful for us.

  10. Avatar Sujit Singh says

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