There are many reasons to get more involved in social media sites. Content creation and discovery, lead generation, and networking just to name a few of the benefits. However, even if you’re not ready to jump in with both feet and create fully a engaged presence on popular social media sites, you should still take the time to create and optimize profiles on a number of sites as a way to control more web real estate and, in some cases, create high value links back to your primary web pages.
I contend that the three most important factors for SEO and small business sites are 1) high quality, frequently updated content 2) properly formatted HTML and 3) high quality links back to your site. Social media sites are an increasingly positive way to get some on #3 knocked out.
This idea of creating backlinks to your website is one that gets debated plenty in the SEO world and quickly erodes to a discussion about nofollow links. Without getting hyper technical, nofollow is a link attribute that tells the search engines not to follow a link, thereby not passing any value from the hosting site to the link destination. Nofollow was created primarily to slow spammers from posting links in blog comments and any other place they could for the sole purpose of getting back links. Consequently, many of the links you place in your social media profiles automatically receive the nofollow attributes and don’t carry the weight of twitter PR9 back to you site. Here’s Google’s take on nofollow
If you want to know if a link is nofollow view the source code (right click, view source) for the link and look for rel=â€œnofollowâ€ in the html related to the link.
With that out of the way, I still believe there is value in building links on your social media profiles as the profile pages on popular social media sites get indexed and can send traffic to the links you feature. Some social sites do pass link value and even let you use anchor text to describe your links, and there is evidence that while nofollow links don’t pass value the pages they point to get indexed and can help overall link count. (Yahoo and MSNLive seem to follow nofollow link?)
When you can you should always add keyword rich anchor text for your links instead of just the URL. (Anchor text are the words used for the link â€“ ie: I use Small Business Workshops in my LinkedIn profile pointing to https://ducttapemarketing.com/workshops.htm – relevant anchor text gives the search engines a better idea of the content on the page and helps with overall SEO for that term.)
While there are hundreds of sites you can add profiles to, here’s my list of must adds for small business. (Even if you already have profiles set up on most of the sites below go back and look for ways you can improve them and add links â€“ even LinkedIn hardcores donâ€™t know about the LinkedIn trick I suggest.)
- Mixx â€“ A site that allows you to submit and vote on content
- LinkedIn â€“ you can add links with your own anchor text through the â€œotherâ€ selection for your links in your profile.
- Flickr â€“ Images are showing up right and left in search results making this Yahoo owned photo sharing site a great place to optimize images. You can also add links on your profiles.
- MyBlogLog â€“ This is a real-time blog tracking tool that I use to monitor any link activity to my site. This a Yahoo owned site and you can add several URLs
- Business Week Exchange â€“ these links get redirected, but very high profile media sites can be very valuable.
- Google Profile â€“ Googleâ€™s personal profiles are showing up in Yahoo searches and allow full follow anchor text list of links. (Search for john jantsch on Yahoo and my Google profile in on page one?)
- Twitter â€“ twitter profiles allow for links, albeit nofollow, but these profiles are showing up very high in Google searches so get the links there and let surfers find you.
- Facebook â€“ lots going on here right now and Google seems to be shutting them out of page one for search, but you can still add a number URLs to your contact information in your personal profile.
Take your time when you build these brand assets as they will serve you much better if you think about the content you place. Use photos when you can, create keyword rich, full descriptions where allowed. Use the heck out of tags as ways to further describe what your business does. And, add links to several different web pages focused on specific topics and not simply your home page. I am promoting this activity as a way to claim real estate, but view these pages as though they may be a prospectâ€™s first and only interaction with your brand.
Lastly, find a place on your website or blog to link to all of your profiles as well. This can help the search engines find them and allow people to more easily connect with your social media activity.
Image credit: Seeks2Dream