Google’s Pandemonium extends to SMO

Justin Lawrence, analyst, Duo Marketing (Image: file photo)

After Google rolled out the Panda Update – the biggest change to its algorithm in ten years – websites which do not offer what Google deems “quality” content have been scrambling to rescue plunging web rankings.

However, it is not just SEO which has been affected by the Panda Update. The Panda Update will force websites to now consider how well their content is Social Media Optimised (SMO) and show them that SMO is becoming equally as important as SEO. A fine balance of the two is what will essentially make a website succeed.

Twitter and Facebook are two major rivals of Google and are growing at alarming rates. Therefore websites will try to leverage more value out of the social media channels if they are seeing their web ranking drop.

Difference between SEO and SMO

The fundamental difference between SEO and SMO is that where SEO is aimed at driving traffic to your site, SMO is aimed at building a web of links, interacting, engaging and building a network.

The power of social sharing sites has increased radically in recent months and sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Twitter have become increasingly valuable to business. You may not even realise that you are executing an SMO strategy when you add like buttons, but it is vital to your brand. SMO is about making your content easy for people to share.

SMO is also a quick fix which sites use to generate traffic in a short space of time, whereas SEO is a process which requires you to wait for the search engines to index your web page.

How to get Social Media Optimised

Make tagging visible: Add buttons to your site such as Google’s new +1 button. This is Google’s answer to Facebook’s “Like” button, Twitter’s “retweet” or Digg’s bookmark. These buttons need to be made clear to the reader on your website and easy for them to post to their contacts.

Very often it is easier and more comforting for a web user to find content which someone they know has already recommended it. By adding these buttons you will increase the credibility of your site and ease at which your content can multiply across the online community.

Increase linkability: Adding buttons to your site might not be a viable option if your business only has a static website. Consider adding a blog or publishing white papers or thought leadership pieces. Some businesses will struggle with generating original content about their industry, but then consider using a content aggregator as another option.

The benefit of using an aggregator is that you get to drive traffic by pulling in content which you deem relevant and interesting to your audience. It also becomes part of your linking strategy in SEO.

Reward inbound links:  Inbound links have very often been used by bloggers as a gauge for their success in the online world. Encourage more inbound links by listing recent websites or content which you have found relevant. If this is done regularly, and as your traffic increases, other websites will want to be on that list and this creates a good networking opportunity to build reciprocal linking relationships.

Make you content travel beyond your website: Where SMO differs from SEO is that it is not just about making changes to your site, but making sure that your content is mobile and portable. If you have vodcasts, podcasts, PDF files, or powerpoint presentations make sure they are posted on other sharing sites made for those files and link them back to your original site. This is another great way to build more inbound links, while increasing the reach of your content.

Integration: While it may seem difficult for businesses to let go of their content, it actually pays to be flexible about letting others use it. Youtube has done this with tremendous success as their embedded code is a good example of how they allow people to post their content on other sites in order to stimulate their growth.

Syndicating your content through an RSS feed also makes it easier for people to read and access your content as and when it goes up which will again drive traffic.

SMO works best with participation

Ultimately, joining the conversations in the online community builds awareness of your brand and gives you valuable insight into what else you need to be writing about. Additionally it helps inform you what else you need to be doing in order to measure whether your SMO strategy is meeting the goals of your website.

Therefore, Google’s Panda Update should not be viewed as a threat, but rather an opportunity for you to refresh and nurture your SEO and SMO campaigns.

by Justin Lawrence