Two years ago you could get your webpages ranked in the search engines if you followed a simple formula. You started with keyword research to find the right keywords, you then wrote content which the search engines loved, and finally you'd build some high-quality links to let Google and others know that people valued that content.
Today, the SEO game has drastically changed. Today, if you want your website to even show up in Google, you need to harness the power of social media.
Having A Website Is The First Step
Recently, I was speaking with a potential client about building a lead-generation website for her. She asked a fairly common question – if her website would rank in the search engines once it was built. What she was really asking was whether or not a website we built for her would help her get found online. Here is what I told her.
If you want people to be able to find you online, you must have a website that does a few things:
- Capture leads and/or sell products
- Allow you to publish content on a regular and continuous basis
- Speak to your ideal clients with its design as well as its copy
- Be fully integrated with social media
- Rank in the search engines
No matter what business you're in, a website is the minimum you need when it comes to online marketing. Why? Because once someone finds out about you, whether it's word of mouth, an online or print advertisement, television, radio, a flyer on their car, or whatever, their next step is to find out more about you. And where do they go? A search engine.
Put this to the test: log out of any Google products you're in – Gmail, Google+, etc. – and then search on Google for your name. Does your website rank #1? What else do you see there?
Case In Point
We launched a new website for Rachel Kerr Schneider in May of 2012, just in time for her attending the Meet Us In Maui retreat with Jack Canfield. The site was composed of a handful of pages with no other content. On June 20, 2012, her homepage ranked number 1 for her name – a full month after the launch.
Over time, we've been able to rank her website for 47 keywords that are relevant to her target market and her business. What really did it was creating optimized content (blog posts) with a variety of content (text, audio, video) that was shared in social media.
Using Social Signals To Rank Faster
When it comes to SEO, we still perform keyword research, and use those keywords as we've done for years – in the title, description, and content of a post or page. However, to get that content ranked faster, we need social signals.
Social signals include tweets, Facebook likes, LinkedIn shares, Google +1's and many others. Since June of 2012, Google has been tracking these social signals, and factoring them in when ranking web pages. If you use Google Analytics, which I highly suggest you do, you can find this information by going to Traffic Sources and clicking on the Social drop down.
From there, you'll find a wealth of social media stats including one of my favorites – conversions.
Social signals are important because they tell Google that people like your content enough to share it. And what is Google trying to do? Get the best results in front of people for any given search. Tweets, shares, Facebook likes – these are all indicators of “relevant” and “good” content, a handful of many factors Google uses.
The Bottom Line
A few years ago SEO used to be simple, and to an extent it still is. However, with the rise of social media, all of the search engines now take social signals into account. This means that you must as well, if you want your potential customers to find your business online.
The bottom line is this – first you need a website that can capture leads and/or make sales, that speaks to your ideal clients and customers with its design and content, that allows you to publish content on a regular basis, and that ties in with social media and helps you rank in the search engines. From there, you need to publish optimized content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.) on a continuous basis and get that content shared on social media networks.
Do all that, and people will be finding you online.