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).