Brands need to treat social optimization like real content and put it in the editorial calendar -- an insight from Kenn Gold, director of content development at PCH Online, during the MediaPost Search Insider Summit in Captiva, Fla. The discussion of how a good social program can impact search, led by aimClear CEO Marty Weintraub, covered tactical tips for optimizing social content on Facebook, Google+ and other social sites.
The mash-up of social comments in search engine results can be valuable. Gold said SEO best practices for social content should include thinking about quality text and maximizing anchor text in links. How can marketers tell when a brand's social media program drives value? Gold looks at traffic from social content to the brand's Web site, as well as time on site coming from social channels.
Digg can also create in Facebook a viral loop for articles, according to Emily Crume, business development at the news aggregator.
Will Scott, president at Search Influence, said value comes partly from brands dominating page one searches, when queries are not personalized. In a "Give-It-Up" round, he said you can get cookie retargeting code off Facebook pages. In the Facebook tabs, marketers can drop a retargeting cookie to bring them in based on the demographic filtering of Facebook and "follow them around the Interweb forever."
The hope is that traffic coming from social content to the brand's Web site will demonstrate a stronger tie, Scott said.
Facebook tabs, where brands put their name and branding on their branded page, once relied on priority language. About six months ago Facebook shifted to using iFrames, a window on the Web site. When a cookie is placed in the iFrame, such as a Google retargeting cookie, the brand can serve different ads in the display network to people who have come to the Facebook tab. Scott manages to generate a 20% response rate on behalf of a client.
During the Give It Up, Lisa Buyer, CEO at The Buyers Group, said companies are not optimizing images well, and need to remember to add the keywords into image optimization to see results in search engine image results pages.
Weintraub gave it up too. He said rather than sending links to blog posts and email messages, he now sends links to Google footprints that are guaranteed to search specific keywords. "It plays on personalized search," he said.
During the discussion, the panel also discussed Google+ social content serving up in google.com search results. For example, a thumbnail profile for 1-800-PetMeds' Google+ served up in Google's search engine results for about a month without the company trying. Scott called it part of a test by Google to support social content in search engine marketing results. Most have between one to three entries with author attribution on a page, he said.
Weintraub said brands need to start optimizing social content now. If Google uses brands to force agencies to make Google+ happen, when it becomes competitive the engine will start monetizing the entries and it will not be as easy for brands to find a space in the search results. "They will seduce us with search engine results, we will bring our clients like little lambs to the altar, and Google will begin to sell it and agencies won't be able to get it anymore," he said.