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PostHeaderIcon Social Media Strategy and Search Engine Optimization – You CAN Own the First Page

I have been talking in my last few entries about the power of social media channel architectures for search engine optimization and brand building .  It’s always hard to understand these approaches or their true efficacy for SEO in the abstract.  Is this just a nice idea or does it really work?  In a land where data talks and you-know-what walks, do you have data to support the ROI on creating a social media channel architecture?  Can your really move the needle on the SERPs and, if so, how much?

There are many more well-known than me in SEO – Adam Audette of Zappos for one, and Jordon Kasteler of Search and Social for another – who I didn’t realize were mining the same path and have reported results of their efforts.   But I can now also provide substantiation of my techniques, which are especially strong for “easy to rank” and “moderately difficult to rank” keywords and which I am about to test on painfully competitive keywords.

Shown below are two results of my social media channel strategy.  Both of these are from posts on this blog, which is based on an SEO optimized version of WordPress.  The first was a post that was done on September 26 about .htaccess files.  The search was done on October 5 while I was at SMX East.  I was writing a primer on htaccess grammars.  I wanted to rank on that word so new SEOs (and maybe experienced ones) would find me.  Traffic isn’t the issue with this post – reputation management and brand building are.  It is part of my strategy of trying to become a top SEO in the industry (for those who don’t know me, I am a fierce competitor and don’t know how to set small goals).  So it was ok that it was a low-traffic word. 

In this case, I was able to rank in 9 of the top 10 positions after one week – basically my entry owns the first page.  This happens because I don’t depend on my blog to rank.  Bill Joy of Sun, who I had the pleasure to work with while I was on the Java team, used to say “95% if the smart people in your industry don’t work for you, so need to find a way to leverage their intelligence for your success.”  That is Joy’s Law, and it is one of the conceptual underpinnings used to market Java in its early days.  Well, similarly in SEO, my social media strategy leverages the intelligence and resources of bigger organizations to maximize my content’s impact for search engine optimization purposes. 

Figure 1
Rankings Using Social Media Channel Architecture for the Keyword “htaccess grammar”

While my blog ranks first and second in the SERPs, as well as nine and ten, the other entries (3,4, 6, 8) are from what I call the social media amplifier – as my entries flow through Friendfeed, youare, Twitter, and identi.ca.

Very low volume, very low competition keyword.  OK.  Here are the results for a search on “social media channels”, which is higher volume (73 searches, but still low).  Note that the blog holds positions 1, 2, and 5, but the higher positions are due to the SEO power and flow through from Tweetmeme. The post was published on September 8 and, sad to say, I don’t have the search date, although I believe it was around September 15. (You will note I failed to capture the top of the search page – but I hope you will trust my reporting for this one time). 

Figure 2
Rankings Using Social Media Channel Architecture for the Keyword “social media channel”

Search results for social media channels

Also if you search today for “social media channel architectures” (the keyword I optimized for) you will find the entry in Positions 1,2,3, 4, and 5 due to leverage of Tweetmeme and Friendfeed. 

Realize this is before the creation of any special content specifically for social media sites – such as an article on hubpages or knowl, or a presentation on slideshare.  What would happen to that content through the amplifier still needs to be tested.

My next experiment will be to try this approach on really tough keywords.  We’ll see then just how much effort it takes to rank there. 

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