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Optimize Social Profiles for Better Search Engine Results

March 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm PST

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Social Media Optimization (SMO) is the practice of building and maintaining social network profiles and activity in ways that are most likely to have a positive effect on one’s search engine rankings, increase brand awareness, drive traffic to web sites, and generate sales and leads. SMO starts with optimized profiles.

Public social network profiles tend to rank easily in search so they obviously are indexed by the search engines. At the most fundamental level, then, a well-optimized profile has the person’s or brand’s name in the manner in which people are most likely to search for that person or brand. Next in importance is including keywords for which one wants to be found in the description or biography part of the profile.

Finally, if the network allows links in the profile, the person or brand should link to their main properties on the web.  Note:  Links on some social profiles may be automatically tagged to as “NoFollow” for search engines. That means the search engines will not pass on any “link juice” from the social network to the linked-to site. However, these links can still be valuable for driving referral traffic.  There is growing evidence that search engines are experimenting with “co-citation,” where a relevant mention or link to a brand or other entity may carry some authority, even if there is no link or the link is no-followed.

How does  Search Engine Optimization differ from Social Media Optimization? 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMO actually overlap in the area of strategy to positively affect search rankings. SMO seeks to do that more indirectly through building influence in social networks that will send positive signals about one’s site and brand to the search engines. As described above, SMO also has concerns that go beyond search into brand identity and direct traffic generation.

SEO is entirely focused on those things which seem to have the most direct effect on search rankings. It seeks to optimize both on-site (making it easy for search engines to crawl and index the site and identify what it is about) and off-site (building authoritative links from other sites to the targeted site).

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The Social Media Play on Search Engines

February 26, 2013 at 9:33 am PST

This post is included  as part of a series related to social media training efforts underway at Cisco.  I sat down with Mark Traphagen  and Phil Buckley of Virante to ask a few specific questions around social media and how social media interacts with search engine  marketing and optimization.  This is the first of two parts for this interview.  

HAK51746What impact does Social Media have on Search Engines?

The first search engines were little more than human-fed directories.  As the web took off, trying to human index it became unworkable, for obvious reasons.  By far the most obvious and dramatic effect is seen in the growing personalization of search results. Since at least 2007, Google results have been influenced more and more by the searcher’s location, past search history, and how she interacts with web sites, among other factors. With Google’s introduction of Search Plus Your World in early 2011, social network influence came front and center.

Now by default if a searcher is logged in to Google while searching, her results are heavily influenced by Google contacts, including Gmail contacts and people circled on Google+.  Bing has begun a similar effort incorporating a user’s Facebook friends. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, revolutionized web search with their invention of the PageRank algorithm, which counts links between sites as “votes” and weighs those votes by relative authority.  When the social web emerged, Google and other search engines realized that social interactions online could provide a new source of signals, a way to diversify the signal set and augment or confirm the signals being sent by links.  Since then, they have been slowly increasing the amount of effect that social signals have on search results.

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Google Places is the Place for You

We’re all familiar with Google Search. Most of us use it every day to find information and data to help us with our jobs and make our daily easier or perhaps, just more entertaining. However, Google is not only a search engine. It also has a range of tools that provide marketers with social networking and content creation opportunities. Google Places is one of these lesser known tools, but used correctly, it can help your business get found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps. In fact, you’ve probably unknowingly used it yourself to find a local restaurant or handyman. So, what exactly us Google Places and why is it important?

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Search Engine Optimization Best Practices: News@Cisco Case Study

As Cisco’s public online newsroom, News@Cisco is a highly trafficked, content-rich site that – like almost every other news provider – is facing an increasingly fragmented audience. Potential visitors have more options for content than ever before, and they’re being diverted into news and social media channels like Google News, Facebook and Twitter.

In such an environment, it’s essential that audiences are able to find your content when they search for it, which means it has to appear in the first few results for a particular search term or phrase. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving visibility of your web pages via natural, or unpaid, search – is a key tool for achieving this goal.

How do you accomplish this? There are whole books, websites and blogs devoted to SEO, but a few basics we’ve learned include:

• Create quality content that is rich in relevant keywords and phrases. Try to use these keywords/phrases in titles, headlines, descriptions and a few times in the content. This holds true for video, too.
• Provide relevant links. In our case, we link to relevant Cisco.com pages whenever possible.
• Link wisely. Use descriptive phrases or words for the link rather than “click here” or “read more.”
• Inbound links to your web page improve its performance in search. Share your content via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other online outlets and allow your site visitors to do so as well using apps like ShareThis or AddThis.

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