Social Media Optimization

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has become familiar to every web owner over the years. After all, moving up in the various search engine rankings is well-worn territory these days; but SMO is somewhat newer territory to some. It stands for Social Media Optimization, and many business owners aren’t sure how to take advantage of the explosion of the new types of websites that are classified as “social media” these days.

Social media are those sites that aren’t strictly business oriented but focus instead on social interactive. They encourage the exchange of ideas and thoughts; some of them have no particular focus while others have a particular niche. Blogs, podcasts and video sites such as Digg, MySpace and YouTube are all examples of familiar and popular social media sites.

Nothing will take the place of proper search engine optimization, but there’s definitely a place for social media optimization for businesses. While SEO tends to provide solid, long-term placement in the rankings, SMO can give a business, particularly a small business that is just starting up, a quick boost by creating viral buzz. Social media sites are like gossip and word spreads like wildfire. If your site is mentioned on a popular blog or you post brief video demonstrating a great new product on YouTube, it will be read and picked up by loyal visitors who will link to it, distribute it and spread it quickly to other sites, who will then link to you, and so on.

It’s viral advertising at its finest. The beauty of social media is that it quickly and efficiently creates buzz. The downside is that buzz can just as quickly fade away, but that’s where SEO can pick up. The key is to balance the two. Used properly, SMO and SEO are ideal partners. Of course, a great way to use them in tandem is to be sure that any time your business is mentioned in the social media, they provide a link back to your website, where visitors will find some great SEO content that will pique their interest.

Which brings us to the importance of content. Yes, content is still king, but there is a way to flawlessly combine SMO and SEO and establish yourself as an expert in your industry or field. There are many interactive sites today that are forms of social media such as Yahoo Answers, All Experts and Yedda where members can ask and answer questions. If you join and regularly answer questions in your particular area of expertise, visitors will begin to seek you out as a resident expert. When you answer, be sure to use keyword phrases and include a link back to your site. Once there, visitors should find great content on the subject in the form of detailed articles.

Because sites like Yahoo Answers are very popular with an eclectic cross-section of the public and are established, respected sites, the more you post to them the better your rankings will be based on your incoming links from those sites to your own website. And don’t forget that many of the people who read your responses will also follow your link to your site and may generate links of their own, spawning even more linking possibilities.

It’s obvious that the “buzz” created by social media marketing is valuable in the short term and should be taken advantage of, but it will never take the place of solid, high quality content. The best recipe for success is in understanding how to combine savvy article marketing with social media to really boost your search engine rankings both today and tomorrow.

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