SEO & Social Media Alignment

I recently presented at SMX East on how SEO and Social teams can no longer operate separately. Why? Because social media is playing an ever-more important role in SEO, and it has the potential to be disruptive to the status quo.

Everywhere I turn, I find examples: personalized rank results, results with rel-author that display in Google search more prominently, and recently, # searches that incorporate G+ hashtag queries as part of the Google search experience.

The Value Of Aligning Search & Social

social-couldbe-disruptive-aspanda

Traditionally, SEO has focused on content, website architecture and linking. These areas of focus are still critical, but as social media gradually becomes more important for SEO, it’s also about identity, relationships and content.

Identity-based signals can potentially include agent rank, relevancy and the engagement graph. Quality content, on-page relevancy and on-page optimization signals are all still important.

Plus, the impact of relationships can be clearly seen in personalized results. I’ve personally experienced this change reflected in a # Google search result — a mere 36 seconds after I made a post on G+.

Scaling SEO & Social Media

Scaling social media best practices across an organization can play an important role within SEO strategy. The larger your social footprint, the more impact social media will have on your SEO efforts.

To scale our own social efforts, my employer, Adobe, has moved from a distributed organizational alignment toward a multiple hub-and-spoke model. With a focus on four core areas that revolve around measurement, management, innovation and enablement, Adobe has a clearly defined engagement process that also helps us scale social media.

We have implemented defined social media policies and guidelines for social engagement so that employees are empowered to use social media, helping Adobe scale our efforts. In addition, cross-functional training sessions on social media and SEO best practices are an important aspect of scaling our social media efforts.

As part of this training process, we also invite guest speakers from leading brands to share social media best practices with our employees. Through these sessions, we have learned that social media holds significantly more value than its direct contribution to revenue. The value of social media can also be extended into areas that include R&D, marketing, sales and support.

Data-Driven Alignment

As part of the alignment between the social media and search teams, we sought to determine the impact between social media and SEO.

To accomplish this, we first had to align on our key performance indicators (KPIs). We discussed what dashboards should be shared, and we asked ourselves several questions:

  • How do we prove sales and conversion goals for social media?
  • Can social sentiment data inform SEO strategy?
  • Can we use SEO keyword data to inform social outreach?

We also studied the impact of social signals on SEO rankings and observed only a marginal correlation that could not be tied to causation.

Social media can help with amplifying content marketing efforts, but we do not want to only use social media as a means to promote our own content. Instead of shouting out our marketing message in a vacuum, we’ve found much more value in listening to our audience in social media. The value of social media goes well beyond any direct impact to rankings.

Social media can have a larger, indirect impact on the overall performance of search marketing efforts when social data is used to inform content marketing strategies. With social data, our audience is telling us what websites they frequent when they are not on our website and what content resonates with them most. This allows us to plan our content marketing so that we position meaningful content in front of our customers wherever they happen to be online.

Strategic & Tactical Alignment

To fully leverage social media and SEO, we coordinate regularly across departments to discuss alignment opportunities, tactical next steps, and strategies for each quarter. SEO processes that involve working with the social media teams include SEO best practices and training, keyword research support, support with rel-author implementations and linking recommendations.

We also leverage a variety of tools to improve SEO in our social media channels. Within our Adobe Experience Manager platform we have automated internal linking recommendations, and we’ve integrated SEO best-practice recommendations within the CMS. We also use BrightEdge to align social listening capabilities with SEO performance data.

Innovation

Social conversations can inform keyword strategy, and search keywords can inform social content strategy. This process is a virtuous cycle because social engagement boosts search performance, which increases social signals and drives more social conversations.

By aligning search and social, the value of both SEO and social media can be enhanced. SEO is no longer just about content, linking, and site architecture; it’s also about building social identity, relationships and engagement. The data from social and SEO isn’t just for looking back; it can guide your future strategy.

By using social data to determine what customers want and where they prefer to consume online content combined with SEO data, you can develop a strategy that can target your customer in a way that is seamless and well informed. I’ll be speaking further on the topic of enterprise SEO & social media on November 19 at the SMX Social Media Marketing event in Las Vegas.

Image courtesy of Adobe