What is Social Media SEO and how important is it for businesses in the fields of travel, tourism, and hospitality?
In previous blog posts on the Stir Communications Group blog, we discussed Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Next we’ll describe how you can use SEO to get the most out of your efforts in social media to boost your travel/tourism agency’s bottom line.
In the simplest terms, Social SEO is “using social media — as part of an SEO campaign — mindfully, that is: putting what you know about SEO to work in Social Media with an eye towards driving traffic/visitors to your website or other online content…”
Further, now that Google has launched “Search Plus Your World” — a change to the way the search engine performs that promises to make internet search more personalized than ever, Social Media is now a crucial part of SEO:
“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience.
Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” (Google Blog).
“Since Google is the most influential search engine and they are clearly integrating and favouring results coming from people’s Google+ circles, this becomes the most important social outlet to focus on from a SEO-Social perspective. No more ignoring it” (www.agent-seo.com).
There are a variety of ways to optimize Social Media as part of your company’s SEO campaign, including:
> Creating a custom Facebook Page your business, and posting there regularly
> Maintaining a Twitter Feed for your business, and tweeting to your followers
> Adding Social Sharing to your business’ online marketing material
A secondary sort of optimization includes making use of social media activities being carried out by others. That is, participating in online conversations related to your industry or involving your target market, like, for example: commenting on other blogs, joining discussion and forum groups, and “liking” or sharing social media content (posts, links, tweets, and videos).
Really, in a nutshell, both direct and secondary optimized social media activities have to do with taking advantage of the existing and powerful word-of-mouth marketing happening on the internet to build your brand, increase brand, product, and service knowledge, engage clients, employees, and media, improving customer relations (and, in turn, customer sentiment);
…it’s taking everything you’ve learned about SEO and Social Media and putting the two together for the best chance at gaining good momentum online.
So, what’s the first step?
Mashable says: “Making the most out of combining SEO insights with social media marketing tactics can be accomplished with a roadmap that identifies the audience you’re after, the goals you’re trying to reach (and can measure) as well as a strategy that sets the stage for the tactics you’ll use to execute your game plan” (mashable.com).
Stir Tourism, for example, works with new SEO and Social Media clients to create a Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan at the beginning of each project. This plan includes defining the audience, clarifying goals and objectives, outlining a plan (tactics), and measuring success and redefining goals.
More from Mashable: “From a marketing standpoint, you can look at the benefits of SEO and social media two different ways. First, implementing a social media marketing program without optimizing content is leaving money on the table. Useful social content (blog, video, images, audio) that cannot be discovered via search is a lost opportunity to reach an audience that is looking.
On the flip side, implementing SEO programs without leveraging the content distribution and linking benefits of social web participation makes link building for SEO an uphill battle. The nature of the social web encourages participation: sharing, voting, commenting and linking. Popular social content gets exposure, traffic and can result in a substantial number of relevant inbound links.
However you look at it, SEO and social media work well together as long as there is a framework for doing so. One way to build SEO and social media programs efficiently is to follow a social media roadmap:
By involving SEO insight in a social media marketing effort and vice versa, marketers, public relations professionals and advertisers can extend the value of their investment. Well optimized social media content marketing efforts can attract new network participants via search. News content that experiences distribution via social news and bookmarking channels can facilitate links to company website content directly and indirectly. Advertisers that fund social media campaigns can continue to realize the traffic benefit from keyword-optimized interactive content long after the campaign has ended” (Mashable.com).
Below are some tips and tricks to make the most of your Social Media SEO efforts:
> Start with a comprehensive Road Map (Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan)
> Consider audience, goals, tactics, analytics (how you’re going to measure success)
> Remember the rules for online content – post interesting, timely, relevant, and actionable content
> On your social networking sites, build, engage, and follow-up
> Encourage people to share your content
> Make sharing easy by providing clear calls-to-action
> Optimizing your sites for social media sharing (consider Sharebar)
> Continue traditional SEO tactics
> Support all efforts with Local SEO and Video SEO
Most business owners today, especially those in the busy and competitive arenas of travel and tourism, lack the time, staff, and resources (budget) to carry out a thorough and successful Social Media and Search Engine Optimization campaign, so consider hiring a professional tourism internet marketing agency, like Stir Tourism, to help. Contact us today.