At the workshop I put on last week with my friend Renée, one of the interesting questions that came up was how social media marketing impacted a business website’s search engine optimization. I thought I’d answer that here as I did last week because if I was asked there, then someone else might want to know that answer as well.

One of the things you often hear about what helps you rank higher on Google, and I’m not talking page rank here, is getting one directional (I’m debating as to whether it’s “directional” or “direction”; have to think about that more) inbound links. By that, it means you’re getting a free link from someone without necessarily giving one back. Supposedly, search engines love that, because it shows that outside people are giving you love without your asking for it. By the way, that’s also why they hate paid links, even if you use the “rel=nofollow” attribute, because they think those advertisers are trying to game the system, if you will.

So, let’s look at a few of the social media sites where you might do some marketing to see how it all works. If you use Twitter, you have to create a profile, and if you’re smart you’ll put your business link in there. Mine has my business link instead of the link to this blog. Now, the only link I have back to Twitter is to my name on Twitter so people can follow me. I have nothing on my business site that goes to Twitter except for the same thing. Now, every blog post I make pops up on Twitter, which means all of my blogs get immediate link love. If someone clicks on the links, they’ll go to my sites. Even if they don’t, I still get link love, and I get more if someone decides to retweet it. Not a bad deal for a quick post.

LinkedIn and Facebook work in a similar way. When you create your profile, if you pop in a link to your business website, you’ll get the benefit of an inbound link. Both of those websites are pretty prominent, so that benefits your site. But then you go further. On both sites, posts from my business blog show up like they do on Twitter. This means I’m generating one directional links to my blog, which is attached to my website, and thus I’m helping to increase my SEO. Even with my creating a business page on Twitter and linking it to my blogs, like you see there to the right, my SEO is intact because every time I write something on that page, or anyone else does, it gets shared with everyone who’s decided they “like” my page, and if they’re commenting on a link I left, that gets spread around as well. By the way, on Facebook I’ve included links to all of my sites, whereas on LinkedIn I’ve only added links to my two main business sites and my blog.

The concept pretty much works with all the social media marketing areas you might try. If you create a YouTube account and set it up properly, you’ll get an inbound link. Every email you send where you have a link in your profile you get a little bit of that, but you get more if it goes to a place where someone has to log in online to see their email. If you participate in forums, you should make sure you have a signature file with your link in it.

Now, I have to say this one thing, and it’s important. Just getting links means nothing. If your website isn’t optimized correctly, those links aren’t going to help you one bit. If you don’t have any real content, the search engines still won’t know what you do, and neither will people who eventually might come to your site. So, you have to have a well rounded SEO program going for any of this to help your site and your business.

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