Not so long ago, search engine optimization (SEO) was concerned only with using the right keywords and getting links to your website from as many other websites as possible. Manage that, and your website was sure to rise to the top of the search engines.
Then along came the Web 2.0 and the rise of social media, and everything changed.
It’s taken more than a few years for the search engines to start using social media signals in their ranking calculations, but they’ve caught up and social media is now as much a part of SEO as keywords and standard website links used to be.
In fact, it’s likely that social media metrics will soon become one of the biggest elements in the ranking algorithms.
How Does Social Media Help With SEO?
Links are still considered as the main currency of SEO, acting as votes of confidence in your website content, but social media links (+1′s, shares, tweets, pins, and comments) might carry even more weight because they offer a more accurate view of how real people feel about what you have to say.
Why Is Social Media Important
Essentially, the more your content is shared in a social environment, the better off you’ll be in the race to claim authority on your topic.
Expect to see a lot more on the concept of authority, by the way, as Google Plus and “author rank” become more important in measuring the social networking impact of our website content. If you’re not making the most of Google Plus at the moment, then it might be time to reconsider your social strategy to include it.
Choosing The Right Social Networks
One of the big questions is “which social networks should I be on?” and it can be tempting to try to use them all, especially when we see lots of other photographers jumping on to the latest newcomers, such as Pinterest.
However, it’s not feasible for us to be active on every social network at once – at least not if we want to get any real work done!
The best answer is to pick the most relevant ones for your target market, and maintain a low-key presence on others that might benefit your SEO.
Google Plus seems to be the main exception here. I would strongly recommend that every photographer has a solid Google Plus presence, and to take full advantage of the local SEO opportunities presented by the “places” features.
Generally speaking, Facebook and Twitter are good places for most photographers to be active.
Pinterest is proving very useful for wedding, portrait and fine art photographers, while LinkedIn is probably better for commercial photographers.
Whichever networks you choose, it’s important not to spread yourself too thinly, and be mindful of how much of your valuable time you spend on there.
Social Media Profiles
All of the social networks provide a profile for their users, so be sure to complete them in as much detail as possible, and keep them consistent across networks. It really helps, for example, to use the same profile photo on all of your social media profiles to help with brand recognition.
Engage Your Audience
To get the best return from social media for SEO purposes, a high level of audience engagement is important.
Make sure you use the appropriate social sharing buttons on all of your content, and give people a reason to share or comment on your website or blog. Don’t forget to ask your readers to share your content with their friends, and you might even come up with creative strategies to make sharing both fun and rewarding.
The key aim here is to get as many shares, “likes”, tweets, +1′s and pins as possible to help spread social links to your content far and wide.
By the way, don’t forget the social part of social media – acknowledge your readers’ comments and respond to any questions in a timely fashion wherever possible to keep the circle of engagement going.
Thoughts Or Questions
If you have any questions on using social media as part of your SEO strategy, do share them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.