Strictly speaking, there isn’t much difference between social media optimization (SMO) and search engine optimization (SEO) because both of them involve the process of optimizing a website.
The only difference is that while SEO entails optimizing web content to be read on the website, SMO involves optimization of content for sharing across social media networks.
One of the main reasons why SMO and SEO are continuously syncing up like never before is because social media plays a significant role when it comes to boosting search engine rankings. Such things like shares, follows, likes, comments and Google’s +1 have proven to, positively, impact on a website’s ranking.
Google’s search engine ranking algorithms have in the recent times taken a wider outlook in terms of factors that can affect your website’s visibility. For instance, Google released Hummingbird update, which is based on semantic approach.
This update encompasses broader search query considerations such as your location, search history and the whole meaning of your search query instead of just taking a chain of words in isolation. This has improved the quality of search engine results, meaning customers are getting better quality content that can be shared in the social media.
Although SMO is a simple concept, it can prove complex to execute because every website has numerous parts that are supposed to work together like a digital machine. Perhaps it would help to think of SMO in terms of content and SEO in terms of keywords.
Website owners should, therefore, make changes in their sites so that it can become more visible across the social media networks and increase its reputation. It requires more than just optimizing keywords for your site; you’ve got to go the extra mile of optimizing your content for social media visibility.
The first person to use the phrase “social media optimization” was Rohit Bhargava when he wrote an article “5 Rules of Social Media Optimization in 2006”. However, a lot has changed since then. That is why we are presenting an updated version of the rules of social media optimization.
1. Provide Quality Content
You can’t get away with bogus content. If Google doesn’t catch up with you, your customers will, and they will not have any reason to share half-baked content. Investing in first-rate content is the best investment for any website. The content should also be relevant as well as interesting with photos and videos.
2. Vary Your Content
One thing you should always remember is that there are a lot of other interesting stuff online that captivates the readers’ attention. Providing your readers with one type of content is not an option. Capture them with wide range types of contents, style, theme, and much more. The rule of the thumb is: a bored customer is a lost customer. Give them options and don’t force them to consume your content in just one way. For instance, you can add a comparison podcast of your article or adding images from your recent event can add zest to the content.
3. Stick to Shorter Blog Headlines
Users are more likely to share blogs with shorter headlines than blogs with a headline that one would mistake for a paragraph. The headline should be short but should also grab the attention of the reader and trigger a sense of urgency for the message to be shared in the social media network. If your headlines are short enough, they will be conspicuous in Facebook feeds, Pinterest pins and much more.
4. Make them Catchy
You may have noticed that only catchy content attract most traffic in the search engines. There may be tons of content talking about a certain thing but only half a dozen of them will attract the reader’s attention. In the midst of millions of other content, make sure that you stand out of the crowd by spinning the same topic to make it catchy. Attention-garbing headlines will definitely increase the likelihood of the post being clicked through.
5. Remember to Incorporate Images in Your Content
Many bloggers are yet to accept the massive role played by images in increasing the chance of a given content being shared and talked about in the social media. The reason why the popularity of Instagram and Pinterest grew exponentially is because of the visual content.
We are not saying that visual content should replace text; rather, the two should complement each other. If you spend some time to add quality video and/or image to your text, you will begin to see the returns almost immediately.
It is advisable to increase the pixel width of your images so that they cover the whole blog. The secret behind the success of image-laden content is that the visitors in the social media network will easily see it.
6. Share Buttons Should Easily be Seen on Your Webpages
Social sharing tools on your webpage should be placed on prominent location so that visitors can easily see them and be encouraged to share the content. Remember most of your visitors don’t come to your site with the goal of sharing content. So, when they come, you should make it easier for them to click that like or share button. Try different approaches and see which style works best. For instance, you can experiment with placing your sharing or like buttons in your site’s header vs. the footer
7. Provide Social Proof by Including the Number of Shares
This might not work well with content that has not been shared, but in the long run, it might spur more shares as more users will be more likely to share content they think is popular.
8. Comments are Valuable, Encourage Users to leave them
Is there a better way to encourage discussion and sharing of your content on the social media than encouraging comments on the same? Comments provide a great way of sharing thoughts, offering suggestions, asking questions, and so on. It is even better for you if you have integrated Facebook comments on your site.
9. Organize Your Content Well
It is difficult to provoke comments, encourage clicks, create shares and likes if your content is not well presented. Whether it is a blog post, a presentation, a podcast, an eBook or a video, users will only be encouraged to share and click on your links if the content is well organized. It is also a good idea to aggregate similar contents around the web into your site so that users can enjoy the variety. This makes your content linkable.
10. Target Your User’s Emotions
Emotional intelligence is one of the most important aspect of a business. If you want your social media content to go viral, create contents that induce emotions in your site’s visitors.
The emotion can either be negative (outrage, anger, fear etc) or positive (excitement, happiness, desire etc). Whether it is a video you are producing or a text you are writing, keep in mind how you would prefer your readers to feel when they read your content. Do you want them to feel motivated? Websites without emotional component will most likely not attract much attention.
An article like “The 5 Deadly Diseases that are Likely to Attack You in 2014” is likely to invoke fear and anxiety. While “The Real Estate Business Success Secrets” is likely to bring hope and motivation.
In conclusion, remember to define your SMO objectives before executing any SMO strategy. Are you looking for more credibility? Do you want to improve your site’s ranking and traffic? While you should have clear goals, exercise some flexibility.