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4 Steps for a Social Media Friendly Web Site!
Don’t miss out on new and repeat customers!
By Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing
Too many event planners and organizers lose attendees, exhibitors — and revenue — because their Web sites aren’t properly optimized for search engines. If your Web site is not easy to find via online searching, you miss out on attracting new customers as well as repeat customers who use Google or Yahoo to navigate sites they already know about.
Ditto for Web sites that are not social media friendly. People find out about events through searches, but also through recommendations made via email, word of mouth and social media content. A Web site that’s social media friendly makes it much easier for visitors to save and share content with others, which extends your marketing reach and facilitates engagement.
Prospects find new content via social networking sites ranging from links on Twitter to Facebook to their favorite blogs. Content creation and links that occur as an outcome of social media participation can provide positive signals to search engines and affect search visibility. Making your site more social media friendly expands the opportunity for visitors to directly and indirectly discover your content.
Searching is the most efficient and effective way for prospects to discover content. Event planners and organizers who want to take advantage of these trends in information distribution, discovery and marketing would do well to ensure their Web content strategy factors in the value of both searching and social media.
Making your site search engine friendly
The notion of “search engine friendly” basically means making a Web site easy for search engines to find, make a copy of, understand and rank in search results. Search engines are by no means perfect, not even Google. Making Web sites more search engine friendly means making up for shortcomings in the search engines’ ability to crawl, index and sort Web content.
Core components of a search engine friendly Web site includes:
- Crawl-able content
- Site organization
- Internal links
- Keyword usage — content optimization
- Code/HTML optimization
- Inbound links from external Web sites
This is why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important asset to the performance of natural search results. All major search engines invest in continued improvements to achieve a better search experience for users. For example, Google’s Webmaster tools now automatically handle some of the tasks that SEO consultants have traditionally performed for Web site publishers.
Improving a Web site’s availability to search engines as well as keyword usage and links (internal/external) helps the search engine provide better search results. It also helps event planners and organizers attract more qualified prospects. Not only can Web site traffic increase, but the right kind of visitors self-segment themselves by the keywords they use in searches.
Many forward-thinking organizations have the search issue handled or at least they’re on their way. According to a recent study done last December by ReachLocal, the top online marketing investment in 2014 is the use of SEO, followed by search advertising, email marketing, and website design.
The social Web is the Web of the near future, and real-time search results through services likesearch.twitter.com or even the new “sort by recency” option in Google are giving users more control over the freshness of the information available to them.
Four ways to get more visitors
The increasing demand for fresh, live Web content as well as the expectation of consumers to interact with what they find in the search results demands that Web site owners and content publishers make their Web sites both search and social media friendly.
Here are four ways Web sites can make themselves more “social media friendly:”
1. Include fresh content. To play the search and social media game, a Web site must be in the content publishing business. Search engines and participants in the social Web respond favorably to the signals created from frequent updates.
Web sites that frequently add or update content provide more Web pages for search engines to include in search results and attract more links from other Web sites. Fresh content and inbound links give search engines more reason to re-crawl content on a more frequent basis. Frequent visits from search bots means your content gets included in search results more quickly.
Besides providing a positive signal to search engines, fresh content can also take on a social flavor based on the tools you use to publish. RSS is a big player here, enabling syndication of blog content as well as content from other social media tools you can use such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and blogging.
2. Add social content. Not all of your social Web participation needs to happen offsite with third-party tools. Adding a blog, reviews, forum or even a social network to your own Web site can provide interested visitors with opportunities to interact with speakers, attendees, exhibitors and sponsors.
In many cases, social media participation results in new content in the form of comments, reviews and shared media. That new social media content can provide more information for standard search engines to crawl, index and rank. It also provides opportunities for inbound links which can improve search visibility.
3. Encourage interaction. Conversation is king on the social Web. Most company Web sites offer limited interaction opportunities for visitors outside of a contact form or buying a product. Key characteristics of social media friendly Web sites make it easy for site visitors to interact with the site itself and, in many cases, with other site visitors.
The ability to create profiles, share interests, connect with others, vote/rate and comment on content make up the core behaviors of a social media friendly Web site. As mentioned earlier, fresh content is a byproduct when consumers engage in a social media. Such content is good for search engines and improves visibility to consumers who are looking.
4. Make content easy to share. There’s a tremendous opportunity and benefit to making it easy for site visitors to share content with others. Many sites offer “share this” options that make it easy for readers to submit a viewed page to popular social bookmarking and social news Web sites such as Digg, Reddit and NewsCloud. Sharing options for Facebook, Twitter and email are also popular. Making it easy for Web site visitors to share interesting content (Web pages, video, images) facilitates the word-of-mouth recommendations people make in real life. When done online, those recommendations become searchable assets.
The popularity of the social Web is growing rapidly and has already changed the way we discover, consume and share information online. Consumers and businesses alike will continue to publish digital media that is searchable, and gives marketers opportunities to make it easier for search engines and consumers to discover and interact with content. The challenge is to figure out where social media and SEO fit within an overall online marketing strategy and implementing a plan that aligns realistic tactics with your organization’s goals.
Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency providing search marketing and social media consulting services. Odden has been cited by The Economist and Fortune and publishes the award-winning toprankblog.com. He speaks at numerous industry conferences in addition to serving as chair of the DMA Social Media Council and Board of Advisors for Search Engine Strategies.
Editors’ note: This article was adapted from the author’s original online postings at www.toprankblog.com.
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Other resources for Event and Meeting planners to have an effective Social Media strategy:
- Special Offer: Event Planners – Build an Instagram Brand and Reach Over 300M+ Active Users
- Using Social Media: How to Be More Productive on Social Media by Niel Patel
- Free Kindle eBook: 500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and More!
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