There is some debate in the SEO community regarding social media and the impact it has on the search engine results pages (SERPs). With social media coming in many forms — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Newsvine, Delicious, etc. — you may find it difficult to determine how powerful of an SEO tool social media can be. We all know that blogs provide valuable links, but does a link from Facebook register very high with Google? I say, “who cares if it does?” It certainly can’t hurt your SEO ranking, and targeting social sites gives you yet another weapon in your SEO arsenal, and a weapon that every client likes to discuss at length.
The power of a link is very appealing. SEO specialists wave them around like victory flags, and rightfully so. This is why social sites are very attractive on the surface. You can gain links in a social setting with your potential customers taking part in the linking process. Sounds dreamy! Tweets, blogs, news articles, and Facebook pages are all indexed so we know there is some importance in them. Let’s stop wondering how much and take advantage of the social landscape. CMOs love to talk about social marketing, so take the time to talk with them about it. Become an expert on it. Start a blog about it. You get the idea.
Keeping the link in mind, URL shorteners are ever-present, especially on Twitter. While they are a great tool for shortening your URL link, they tend to corrode your anchor text and don’t always get indexed properly in the SERPs. While most URL shorteners are free, you should opt for the paid, custom URL shorteners. They are inexpensive and will provide you with more appropriate anchor text. Some of them also work very well with Google Analytics and report how they are spreading across the internet.
Get involved with different kinds of social networking sites. Anyone can set up a Facebook Fan Page, customize a MySpace account, and Tweet to the level of Ashton Kutcher, but to take true advantage from an SEO perspective, you have to also seek out, target, and become active in some of the hundreds (if not thousands) of more niche social sites. There are social sites based on just about ever topic and industry you can mention, and even some unmentionables!
Don’t give up on social marketing. It can take some time to build up your relationships and accounts, but in the end you will see the benefit, whether it comes from the SERPs or from the added security that your client feels when he sees all that you are doing for him in that space. Either way it is a big impact on your on-going SEO efforts.