Optimizing Social Media Campaigns For Search


You probably wouldn’t guess this by looking at me, but when I was younger, I was a Girl Scout. A card-carrying, sash-wearing, camping trip-attending Girl Scout. I hated it, of course, preferring to be playing street hockey with my brother and his friends, but it was important to my parents that I at least fake having an interest. So I did. For a little while.

One of your shining moments as a Girl Scout is the day you transition between levels – Daisy to Brownie, Brownie to Junior, etc. It’s when you walk over a ceremonial wooden bridge on stage singing about the importance of making new friends and keeping the old.

You’re probably familiar with the tune. It goes something like this:

Two decades or so later, the melody I couldn’t get out of my head as a child once finds itself relevant. Sing it with me now:

Make new friends (with social media), but keep the old (in SEO), one is silver but together they’re pure gold!

I know. I’m obviously very talented. But what does all that mean? It means that social media and search engine optimization have value on their own but together they become even more powerful.

eMarketer recently published some data from comScore that found search and social pack a powerful consumer punch, citing that clickthrough rates increased 94 percent when a consumer was exposed to both brand-specific search results and social media.

As the chart shows, yeah, social media is driving people to a point of sale…but not like it does when combined with search. As a business owner, you need to go after both.

How should you be working search engine optimization into the social media campaign process? Well, let’s start from the beginning.

Coming Up With the Idea

Your SEO starts here. It starts before you ever put pen to paper or finger to keyboard. Your social brainstorming process should including identifying how this piece of content, this video, this infographic is going to help you achieve your larger SEO and business goals. Yeah, viral is fun, but it’s a waste of effort without a clean end goal. What are you trying to use this piece of content to do?

Do some initial keyword research to look for opportunities and terms you may want to target. What keywords are you receiving traffic from, but aren’t ranking as well as you’d like for? Where do you suspect competitors are getting traffic from that you’re not? What holes in the search engine result pages do you want to close? Knowing which terms you’d like to target will help you either come up with the idea or at least skew it in the direction that will give you the most bang for your buck. After all, creating content for social media campaign is no less important than doing it for an SEO campaign. The content is going to end up in the same spot – the search results – so it’s important you create it with a clear purpose. Otherwise, you’re just playing.

Remembering to support the whole ship

What about the placement of your content? If we’re talking about a blog post or an article, chances are that piece of content will be hosted on your site. But what if it’s not a blog post? What if we’re talking about a video or an infographic you wanted to disseminate to the industry? Do not forget to host that content on a real page on your site, one that will include links that people and search engines can follow through to the rest of your site. One thing that really makes us cringe is to see a business spend a lot of time creating a fantastic piece of content only to banish it from the rest of the site by not putting it on a real page, removing any link juice or value that they’ll get from it. Don’t be dumb. Conserve and focus your juice.

Set up tracking

Just because we’re talking social, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tracking the ROI of what you’re putting out and that means getting some tracking in place BEFORE you release that puppy to the wild. Getting your tracking set up in Google Analytics is important for a couple of reasons. Obviously, you want to be able to track the individual success of what you’re putting out, but this is also helpful in studying micro-conversions, seeing where people discovered the content, determining how much of your traffic comes from social sites, what else visitors touched on your site, and knowing what to tweak for future campaigns.

Speaking of tracking, using a reverse image search engine like TinEye can help you find places where someone grabbed your infographic but didn’t give you credit for it with a link. And then you can beat them send a quick email requesting they maybe add it so their users can “join in the discussion” about it on your site.


Do not forget to optimize your social campaigns for search! This applies to the content itself, any images included, video, banners, infographic titles (make sure to include the title inside the actual infographic so people don’t call it something else and link to you with non-optimal anchor text), contest promotions, and any media you’ll be giving users to embed. Apply SEO to your content like you would salt to your French fries – very, very liberally.

Watching load time

While you shouldn’t panic over page speed, it is something you want to think about when launching a social media promotion. Sure, your site may not face any issues during a normal day, but what about when you suddenly get an onslaught of social traffic? Or when your industry’s IT blogger, sends his or legion of fans to go check out what you created? Or when you accidentally take down the ship trying to get that whale-sized infographic to load? Google has confirmed that site speed is a search ranking factor, so it’s something you’ll want to consider. No good creating a monster social media hit only to have your site buckle under the pressure.

Remember: Anything that can be searched for can be optimized for search. Just because it’s social doesn’t change that.

Your Comments

  • Rob Woods

    Thanks Lisa. Some great tips. BTW, I’m going to steal some of this as I’m giving an hour long presentation on this next week :) I hadn’t thought about the hosting part.

  • Jerry McCarthy

    I love it. You’re in a zone this week! 3 posts, all home runs in their own rite. I’m seriously digging it because it’s been one of those weeks where I am having severe writer’s block to the twentieth power . Great articles like these motivate me to push through so thanks. My advice to all of those new to the social media landscape is to welcome the mistakes you will inevitably make at the beginning. It’s not a waste of time. Like anything else planning ahead is big part of it but equally as important is tracking productivity, fine tuning and adjusting. So embrace the trial and error. Thanks Lisa! Have a super weekend!

  • netmeg

    Don’t feel bad. I was a Girl Scout too.

  • Etela

    Thank you Lisa. I couldn’t agree more with you. I’ve been preaching the exact same thing; don’t leave seo in the dust just because you discovered a new shiny thing. This is one of the challenges I’ve been facing with some prospects where they only want to focus on social media and don’t even want to talk about seo. You need them both. But you also need to take all your other efforts, yes even off line efforts, and integrate them into a holistic marketing plan to truly maximize each one’s potential.

  • Miguel

    Great post and timely for me personally. I’ve been integrating more and more with the Social Media Department at my agency. I’ve also been creating, launching, and promoting more link bait articles and infographics.

    You are right in that if your content is an image make sure that you do not host it locally or if you do that your server is prepared to handle a massive load of requests. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when one of our images hit the home page of Digg.com and crashed the company website entirely! Now I like to host on Flickr or Imgur.

    I’m gonna check out TinEye, never heard of it. Thanks!

  • Elias Shams

    Lisa, It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my awesomize.me can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

    CEO & Founder

  • Joshua

    Tin eye! I love it. Thanks for sharing this tool. Also thanks for the comscore stat. I am going to email it to a client who fights with me about social media.

    • Joshua

      I just used Tin eye for the first time. Success! There was a picture I found that I want to use (with a license) and found out I could buy it!

  • Taylor

    Great article, and a great guide. I’m glad you stress the importance of tracking, we tell our clients all of the time how valuable of a resource the information provided from tracking can improve future social campaigns.