Discoverability is the New Marketing

If you have a website, you have probably heard about SEO. Broadly speaking, SEO refers to the way you market yourself or your company on the Internet so that you show up high in search results for either your name, the name of your company, or keywords describing your expertise (e.g., control systems in Baltimore). Most keywords will be picked up from content on your website. In fact, much of SEO strategy centers on content marketing and maximizing the effectiveness of your website.

As it relates to your online presence, social media optimization (SMO) is perhaps an even more important element of your overall marketing strategy. It means improving your online presence by focusing on social media communities. SMO is the process of improving the discoverability and usability of your presence in social media. Since most online experiences begin with a search engine, this is clearly an important component of your online presence and can be dealt with separately from website optimization.

A huge increase in social sharing on the Web is changing the way many search results are reported. For example, Google now integrates numerous social sites into its search results. Information and links that have been shared by the searcher’s social network through sites such as Facebook and Twitter will now rank high. This development could be an enormous change for the search process in the future. The trend here is that people who share information online, and build large social networks, are more likely to see themselves ranked high in search engine results.

Google also made some significant changes to its search algorithms in 2012 that will benefit companies who choose to blog. Its Panda and Penguin algorithmic updates penalize low-quality sites and SEO techniques that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The result is that sites rich in content are rewarded. Websites that have been stuffed with numerous keywords in the hopes of raising visibility on a results page will be at a disadvantage here while high-quality sites that regularly update their content (e.g., through a blog) will have much to gain. Linking to other reputable sources of information (e.g., institutions, associations, other companies) will also make your blog more credible in the eyes of Google.

Below are some tips to keep in mind as you work with each site:
  • Make sure your presence is consistent across social media platforms—use the same name, photograph, and logo to build brand identity. 
  • Titles and tags are key. 
  • Content is king. The more useful your content is and the more it is targeted to the interests of your patient population, the more likely it is to rank high in search engines. If your content isn’t of sufficient quality to attract good natural links, it doesn’t matter how “optimized” that content is.
  • Incorporate images and/or videos into your social media communications.
  • Post or update often. Activity levels, especially recent activity, drive search engine results. 
  • If you have a website, use Google Analytics, a free tool, to track website activity. 
  • What keywords are visitors entering in a search box that leads them to you? What questions are they asking? Make sure the titles and tags in any new content you create match those words used in a search. 
  • Make it easy for people to share information about you and your company by including links to all your social media sites on each of your sites. For example, make sure your LinkedIn page has links to your Facebook page and Twitter account. 
  • You do not need to buy ads on Google to be visible on the first page of search results. Most users prioritize the importance of organic search results over ads.