SEO Step Six of Ten: Social Media

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Welcome to part six in this ten part SEO series. The ten parts of the SEO process we will be covering are:

  1. Keyword Research & Selection
  2. Competitor Analysis
  3. Site Structure
  4. Content Optimization
  5. Link Building
  6. Social Media
  7. PPC
  8. Statistics Analysis
  9. Conversion Optimization
  10. Keeping It Up

Social Media

On the second day of SMX Social, I had the privilege of being on a panel that spoke about micro-communities. The panel included Rand Fishkin and myself while Danny Sullivan moderated. Several of my colleagues were a little confused with the title of the panel, just as probably a few of you are right now. So just what are micro communities?

First, before I explain that, let me start off by saying – the concept of Social Media is not new. That’s right, the concept of what exactly social media is not new. The fancy term that has been coined "Social Media" and the new "Web 2.0" looks are what’s new to this rather old advertising medium (old in terms of the internet that is). Social Media has been around since the inception of the Internet. Think I’m a little nuts in stating that? Stop and reflect a moment, some of the most powerful social media outlets for your clients, services and products have been around a very long time – Forums and Message Boards.

Forums and Message Boards are chalk full of relevant very honed content around particular subjects. Whether its subject is about collecting comics, fan fiction writing, or making crafts most forums have a lot of "power" when it comes to value and optimization of your website (think age of domains, relevant content, etc.). They also offer traffic from very qualified resources, and these are resources that really would be more interested in what you have to say.

So now, maybe you are getting an idea of what micro-communities are? Micro-Communities are specific communities built around niches. When it comes to social media it can encompass a wide variety of social media types from specific social news sites (BallyHype, Sk*rt), bloggers blogging about very finite subjects, specific communities (WebMD, Corkd), to fourms/message boards (Cre8asite, Rotten Tomatoes). All of these social media types provide user generated content created by people interested in one particular niche.

Rand had a great list of all different types of communities in his presentation. This listed consisted of websites that were designed to be "communities" around a certain niche. However, when marketing to micro-communities you need to look beyond just a particular website that caters to creating a community to one niche. You have to open up the possibilities of reaching more people with your message, by only looking at "communities" per se, you limit your reach. Micro-community marketing strategies should include social news sites, blogs and blogging groups, forums and message boards, video and photo sharing sites (think about photo groups and video subscriptions) and also communities. Any where people "share" they are being "social".

My presentation gave a case study, how we effectively leveraged utilizing a certain aspect of social media to spread the word about a client’s product. The client is in an extremely tough niche to market. This particular niche was over crowded, PPC spend was high and SEO is practically impossible other than for their brand name which no one knew about. After spending over 40k in PPC with lackluster results, the client needed a new approach, so we decided to take a much closer look at social media.

Several approaches were looked at, but we decided to first work with bloggers who were specifically blogging about their ups and downs with dieting. We did a tremendous amount of research and read their blogs. We started with a large list and looked at several factors such as receptiveness, how often they blogged, what was their reach, and how many subscribers the blog had. We decided to start with "smaller" bloggers (reach/subscriptions) first to minimize any negative backlash and also to learn from our approach. Most importantly we followed the WOMMA guidelines. Due to the industry our client’s product was in, and the propensity for spam and being seen as a "slimy, unethical marketer", this was very important.

After a 4-6 week period, the project had greater success than the PPC campaign did in 3 months. The goal was to give away free trials via an online form. That was accomplished when after a blogger wrote about their experience with the product, they were then offered to offer their audience a free trial as well. The most important thing we did with this project, beyond being upfront and honest, was that we NEVER asked a blogger to blog about the product. We did not expect it, we did not ask for it we left that up to the blogger to act on their own. If the blogger did blog about their experience with the product it was recorded, and we also interacted with the blogger’s conversation. Whether it was a positive or a negative response, we always engaged in the conversation thanking them for their honest opinions and feedback.

In the end, when we finally handed the project over to the new marketing group our client started, the project was deemed successful by our client. They actually had sales from this effort, where in the PPC campaign, there was none. The client also learned a lot about the perception of the product and considered that a great take away too.

Taking the time, researching and being up front and honest about who you are is imperative to marketing to micro-communities. If the community smells a "rat", they’ll out you faster than OJ Simpson was outed for "stealing his own sports memorabilia" back. Trust me when I say this, you mess up by not being upfront and honest, your campaign efforts are done. People in these micro communities talk with each other. Bloggers participate in forums, forum participants engage in social news, social news junkies scour the message boards for new information to post – get the picture here?

Micro-communities are a great place to market to qualified targeted audiences, but unless you invest the time and sincere efforts of engaging with a community, your strategy is doomed from the start. The last thing I’d like relate about micro-communities is: remember, these communities tend to be a much smaller scale than Digg, Propeller or StumbleUpon, you shouldn’t be after traffic if you are looking to interact with these communities. Digg, Facebook,etc. all have broad and general audiences and can drive tons of unqualified traffic, micro-communities can turn out to be a much bigger "win" if your goal is conversions.


SEO Step Six of Ten: Social Media
About Li Evans
Liana (a.k.a Li) is the creator and main contributor to Search Marketing Gurus and has assembled a well rounded group of professional search marketing professionals to contribute to the blog.

Li has an extensive I.T. and marketing background, holding degrees in both Public Relations and Information Systems. In a prior life, Li was a database and visual basic programmer who "found the light" with search marketing back in 1999. WebProNews Writer
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  • http://www.seoboost.co.uk Search Engine optimisation

    You are right Social bookmarking sites are good for goal conversions but thats all quick traffic is there aim and the odd win is helpfull but thats all.

  • http://www.bluewavedesignstudio.com Web Design Raleigh

    Looking foward to reading more about your thoughts on SEO.

  • http://www.riversagency.com web design chapel hill

    On my way to read the rest of this series

  • http://www.seowebdesignfirm.com/seo-company.htm SEO Syracuse

    Social media is here to stay and when SEO and social media consultants can learn to work together it will be a powerful combo.

  • http://www.marketing-webmaster.com Guest

    Great article, and I remind myself that the english language enables cross contries, global social media

  • http://www.hemroidshelp.com hemroids

    Excellent and concise article about social media. Getting involved, reasearching heavily and knowig what other bloggers are doing and saying is highly important in the service and marketplace.

  • http://www.crbuses.com used buses

    Great list, but I believe it is important to also include another sub aspect of SEO which is viral marketing and link baiting as a methodology for building links. Just including the step ‘link building’ leaves much to the imagination, and I find very few businesses truly leverage viral aspects into their link building or marketing campaign.

  • http://seo.pittwebsite.com Pittsburgh SEO

    Hi Li,

    Thanks for pointing that out to us, I’m sure this opens the door to social media for a lot of people. If more people would follow your genuine approach to social marketing I think it would actually increase the quality of content that is out there. Think about it,  most people would be posting about about actual products and reviewing them. I’m sure most of us at some point likes to see what others read more data on products we are interested in buying or hear about ones we didn’t know about. Again thanks for the inspiring post.


    • http://www.wsop2008.org WSOP 2008

      user reviews far outweigh product hype

  • http://www.seo-pro.co.il/customers.php Seo pro

    Social Media is the future of SEO

    • http://travel-guide2india.blogspot.com travelling to India- Famous tourism places in India

      I agree to you seo pro, social media is the future of SEO but as social media has started giving results to webmasters, it has become more vulnerable to abuse. In future the social media siites has to take some firm steps to stop abuse otherwise what we call ‘social’ will become playground of spammers.

  • http://www.rankbetterseo.com/ seo web design

    Great seo article.  Keep em coming

  • http://www.propeller.com/member/boots72/ L.W. From Propeller

    Li, I am definitely a newly convinced fan of social media\marketing.  I have been increasingly finding myself involved in all types of internet communities.  The first step is trying to get into the  "out the box" way of thinking.

    We all as marketers, (at least some of us) are so bent on trying to sell something to everyone to the point where we are eventually shoving it down the throats of people, who have their guards up more than ever before. 

    Really, the only effective way to get across to them is through social media, so it’s almost a mandatory thing if you want to succeed online or offline for that matter.  You have to immerse yourself into these communities, and not pretend to be involved, but actually give something back of value in return for all of the attention you are getting for your own benefit. 

    After a while, you’ll noticed that you "suddenly" have a purpose in these virtual communities.  After your first point, the keyword and selection, I think social media interactivity should be number 2 on the list.  Without that, everything else on the list is somewhat pointless, because you’ll have very limited exposure on today’s world wide web.


  • http://www.business-sale.com Chris

    If used well social media sites are great traffic drivers, watch Google swallow them up

  • http://www.websitesforjewelers.com jewelry website design

    Nice post Li. Social media is a very important part of any business marketing campaign. Social netowkring is on the rise,and social rank may even eventually replace page rank as a key factor in rankings.

    • http://www.iwanted.ca Internet Marketing & SEO

      Social networking has the potential to drive large amounts of traffic to a website.  The only concern that I have is that much of this traffic does little to convert into any sales or revenue.  Suggestions on how to deal with that?

  • Jeffrey Pipes Guice

    I’m interested in reaching social network websites who are interested in trading equity for a $10,000,000 media campaign.

  • http://home-garden.net78.net/tips-to-prevent-cats-from-pooping-in-mulch/ prevent-cats-pooping-mulch

    This is a great info. I never thought about that.

  • http://www.articleblip.com/article/entertainment entertainment news

    I have found that social networking is a great way to build links and social bookmarking is great for getting pages indexed fast.

  • http://www.animaroo.com puppies for sale

    When planning a large scale social media campaign it is important to classify the website in order to best know the type of social media campaign you are running. Ecommerce website social media campaigns and information website campaigns are run much differently.

    Also, it is important to evaluate the purpose othe campaign – traffic, branding, links (for SEO), a combination, or all of the above.

  • http://www.hemroidtreatmentnews.com/internal-hemroids/internal-hemorrhoids internal hemroids

    I’m not so sure social media are really useful in a long run. You can get something from them in a short time, but I’m quite sceptical for a long run.

  • http://www.cheesywine.com Wine Information

    thanks for the great information Li

  • http://www.playstationconsoles.com playstation Consoles

     Great article…although not sure about relevance of large community sites these days.They are full of spam so i think people have link blindness. Agree with niche communities though.

  • http://www.healthwellnesszone.blogspot.com/ Peter

    I’ve only had success using digg. Stumbleupon got me a lot of traffic, but it was a bit of a waste of time- people don’t look at your site for long. Digg sends me a good balance of numbers and quality of traffic.

  • http://www.ocrealestatelawyer.net oc guy

    I guess if it is themed right your site can fit into some social media sites excluding the niche does you mentioned. Fny you didnt mention LinkedIn or FastPitch

  • http://www.superfastsubmits.com powerboss


    These articles will surely help guys like me. It seems very easy but had to be followed correctly.  Now i have 25% knowledge in SEO.


  • http://webmasterssocialclub.com webmasters social club

    I have been using forums for a long time now and I know the power fo this type of media. I wouldnt call them "micro communities" because the only networks bigger that forums are social networks like myspace and facebook.  No webmaster should over look the power of social communities. I really like your post it has very detail and useful info keep up the good work.

  • http://www.best-price-comparison.com Schwinn Elliptical

    I used to submit to social bookmark. I think that’s very nice to get traffic. I also recommend forums which related to your site but pls DO NOT SPAM.

  • http://vidology.com Vidology 1980s Videos

    you can’t just join a community and expect everyone to go follow your links without first building some trust and reputation amongst the community, otherwise your post will get buried quickly.  learn who the regulars are and start an exchange with them.

  • http://www.nanomedicinecenter.com Nanomedicine

    Another great read… Thanks very much. 😉

  • http://www.vtechcare.com Sanjeev Mehra

    Many important tips on seo here. Too many sites give misleading or vague info but this article is one of the most indepth yet clear that I’ve come across. Ignore these pointers at your own risk. Great stuff!

  • http://www.greymindz.com Amaan Goyal

    Excellent article, key pointers which cannot be ignored by any company looking to drive traffic to their website.

  • http://www.faqsabout.org/articles/science science questions

    Social media should be a part of all online campaigns.

  • http://internetbanking411.com suntrust online banking

    Great article.  The best advice that I can give on using Social Media to market your site is to pick one community and really participate.  Too often people spread themselves too thin and try to join many social sites.  Instead, pick one and become well known on that social media site.

  • http://dyxy.com Francis

    I wonder how long these social media sites will last? But at this point they do offer great ways to increase traffic. Thank tou for this article.

  • http://otooo.com Otooo

    I have just finished reading through the first 6 SEO posts you have made, and I must say – I am blown away

    The detail and every fine point you explain just makes so much sense

  • http://www.lynteractive.com Guest

    I have been 0 rank for about 6 months. grr.

  • http://www.black-tea-benefits.com tea

    Great article.  I am still somewhat new to SEO.  One thing I don’t know a whole lot about is using Social Media Sites to my advantage.  Thanks for the great info!

  • http://hawtapps.com Lilly

     Thanks for this article. Very informative! 

  • http://www.fliesen-trends.com Fliesentrends

    We are very thankful for all the informative articles. They help us a lot. Thank you.

  • http://www.fliesen-glantz.de Fliesen

    It is difficult to find such great and usefull information. Thank you.

  • http://franyromi.blogspot.com Fran y Romi

     Thanks u for your very nice post, i learn a lot.

  • http://www.allmastersdegree.com Masters Degree

    This is really a nice post about social media. this helps me out on some things i didnt know yet..

  • http://rx1-onlinepharmacy.com/ pillso

    thank u great article about social media

  • http://www.mindfood.com/at-video-wii-remote-hacks.seo SirSam

    an article on social media and no mention of Digg ??

    Forum posting can be very successful depending on the forum and your posts, but also quite a bit of work. Plus all the really useful forums are quite careful to weed out the spammers/marketers…

  • http://rowanlandscaping.com/NC/ NC landscaping

    Great article

  • http://www.skintagsolution.com Skin Tag Removal

    I believe that social networking and media will be a larger and larger part of the future of the web, since it is really a ‘mimicing’ of how people socially interact, in a digital landscape.

  • http://www.homeremedyhaven.com Home Remedies

    I truly believe that the search engines are moving toward utilizing elements of social media more and more in ranking. Stickiness, trackable tool usable, bounce rated, return rates will all become more and more important.

    Since search and rankings are about what the user wants, this only makes sense, and ensures that the user found what the wanted.

    This is why I believe social media and Web 2.0 is so critical for websites moving forward.

  • http://www.answerblip.com/articles/animals/pets qustions about pets

    Social media can be a powerful tool if used properly to drive traffic.

  • http://www.socialpro.net Social Media Marketing

    Social media is the fastes way to get targeted visitors to your site.  Social bookmarking and web 2.0 strategies should play a major part in your over all marketing campaign

  • http://www.amoils.com/warts.html Wart Removal

    Indeed Web 2.0 should be a major part of most search marketing strategies for businesses now online.

  • http://www.m4s73r.com/ Internet Marketing Indonesia

    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

  • http://www.business-supply.com Brad – Office Supplies

    While I devote a certain amount of time to social marketing, I also haven’t felt that it was really all that effective.  For example, one of sites get quite a bit of traffic from Stumbleupon, but virtually no slaes from that traffic stream.  I wonder if my time isn’t better spent elsewhere in terms of building traffic?

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