Social Media Optimization (SMO) is only one letter different from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but it’s changing the way we think about SEO. Let’s start with understanding SEO first.
Search engine optimization is making websites as search-engine friendly as possible, both in terms of content and design. The goal of good SEO is to make your website appear higher in the search results for queries relevant to your industry. When it’s done right, it’s the difference between appearing on the first page and the second page of search results, and that can sometimes make the difference between a website that builds trust and a digital ghost town.
But what is social media optimization, and how is it different from SEO?
While SEO focuses on relevance (which is still incredibly important), social media optimization focuses on the ease of sharing your content across a variety of social networking platforms, and its accessibility.
Strong websites and blogs usually include sharing widgets where their visitors can share content to their social media networks. AddThis is one tool (among many) that allows users to engage with your content more easily.
You’ll also want to make sure that your links are shareable. Use services like bitly or buffer which shortens links so that they’re more presentable. Another more expensive (yet worthy) link shortener service is Sprout Social. When used right you can actually use it to do less work. The other bonus to using link shortener services is that they have detailed analytics, so you can get data on how many people actually click your links. This helps to assess and evolve your social media strategy.
Whichever widget or link shortener service you choose, you’ll want to make it easy for your customers to share your articles. Craft solid, share-worthy headlines, and even give your readers the exact words that you’d like them to tweet. Services like click to tweet allow you to work “tweetables” directly into your articles. Tweet this: Breaking down your content into micro-content builds traction for your articles.
Make sure you’re not only sharing your own content. Focus on the “social” part of social media. Social media should not be viewed as another media channel that advertises your business. Share other relevant content that’s related to your industry to be more social, less “media.”
Simplicity on Social Networks
Facebook and Twitter are the standard networks to include in your sharing platforms. And depending on your social media strategy (and where your customers are hanging out), you may also want to consider LinkedIn, Pinterest, and you don’t want to forget about Google+ (especially because of the importance of Google Authorship for SMO).
If you’re technically inclined or you have code-savvy colleagues or friends, markup tools such as Open Graph, Twitter Card tags and rich snippets are ways to make your content more robust. These tools control what headlines, descriptions, images and other components of your website look like when someone shares them on social networks. Incorporating these systems (while it can be complex and confusing to implement) creates simplicity within your web design, and facilitates the sharing of your content.
SMO-friendly markup is a great way to ensure the clarity and appeal of your content. This sort of control, and simplicity ensures your content is as presentable as possible when it gets shared.
While SEO focuses on getting your website seen in search, SMO integrates the various social media networks and sharing tools. Take it one step at a time, and go where your customers are hanging out. Everything is integrating at a rapid rate. But when you incorporate both SEO and SMO, you can evolve into a truly social business and reap the rewards.