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Beyond Google and Bing: optimizing for social media

October 15, 2021

If you only optimize for the mainstream search engines, you’re going to miss out on the opportunity to reach a much larger audience - those who use social media platforms. Google, Bing, and other popular search engines may deliver great results, but they aren’t the be all and end all of SEO. In this handy digital marketing guide, you will discover which social media platforms you should also be optimizing your site for.

Search engines are practically everywhere, even in places you might not think. When we’re talking about search engines other than Google, you likely first think of common alternatives such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo. However, you need to think beyond these more traditional search platforms if you want to see the best results.

Look at it like this: if you created a perfect pastry recipe, you wouldn’t just use it in one or two recipes. Instead, you’d want to use it for every recipe that requires pastry. The same principle applies to SEO. If you are only applying your skills to Google, you’re not maximizing your investment in that content and potentially missing out on a lot of traffic.

SEO for social media

Optimizing for social media has been important to businesses for quite a few years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a further increase in engagement on social media. What’s more, it has changed the times at which consumers are most responsive to ads and posts. With more than 3.6 billion users worldwide, you have a huge potential to reach a much wider audience.

Optimizing for Facebook

Facebook has 2.89 billion active users each month. If your ideal customers are here, you need to find a way to stand out and attract them.

Like most SEO practices, to optimize for Facebook you need to focus on keywords. Facebook Ad Manager is a great tool to use to see which keywords your target audience is focusing on.

Facebook Ad Manager’s Detailed Targeting tool shows how many people are interested in a particular topic, which may be indicative of its search volume.

As well as the Ad Manager tool, standard keyword research tools are also invaluable. They show you the terms people are searching for in your industry. Typically, consumers will use the same kind of search terms on Facebook as they will on Google.

When you have a list of important keywords, you can get to work optimising your content and profile. You can easily place them in the following:

Your Facebook page:

  • About section
  • Contact details — You need to keep these updated, so you continue to appear in search results
  • Page name — This is basically a meta title, including specific keywords

Your Content:

  • Status updates
  • Meta titles
  • Descriptions of shared external articles
  • Image captions

Optimizing for Pinterest

Pinterest has around 2 billion searches each month on average. Marketers see the platform like a visual search engine. So, how can you ensure your business gets found in these searches?

The platform shows up the pins that are best optimised to suit each user’s query. Like Google and Facebook, this begins with a good keyword research tool.

You have multiple options when it comes to keyword research. You can use popular tools like SEMRush, or you can manually use the search bar on the site and look for any autofill suggestions. Other options include the Pinterest Ads Manager and Pinterest trends tool.

Pinterest trends shows the search interest behind particular keywords

When you have the right keywords, use them throughout your profile. You should also use them on your pins, as well as your boards.

Like standard SEO practices, the keywords should be used naturally in the following areas:

Your pins:

  • Image alt text
  • Pin descriptions — 500 characters
  • Pin title
  • Pin text overlay on images (if using)

Your profile:

  • Account description — 160 characters
  • Display name

Your boards:

  • Board names
  • Board descriptions — 500 characters
  • Board covers (if using)

Once your content is fully optimised with the right keywords, you’ll need a good pinning strategy. You will want to focus on a variety of pin styles, rather than static images alone. It’s also recommended to pin regularly, even if it is just once each day. Take time to figure out the best time of day to make a pin too. You can use Google Analytics to help you out here.

The trick is to experiment with new tactics. Once you have tried a few, you’ll know which is better suited to your business.

Optimizing for Instagram

Instagram boasts an estimated 1 billion users a month. If you want to make sure your content gets out in front of the right people, you need to understand how the platform’s search function works.

Once again, the solution starts with keyword research. A good one to use here is KeywordTool, which can show you monthly keyword search volumes within Instagram’s database.

Using the sites search function, you find content and accounts based upon numerous factors. These include a brand’s username, related hashtags, and the location of a tagged post. Recently, it got an update to also include suggested search topics. This shows results based upon content engagement and interests.

You can use keywords to optimise your Instagram content in the following ways:

Your content:

  • Location
  • Captions
  • Hashtags — You can include up to 30 in a standard post, and up to 10 in a story

Your profile:

  • Bio
  • Username

Unlike Google, which doesn’t look at the number of clicks your site has, Instagram displays content based on its level of engagement. This means the difference between getting noticed on Instagram and traditional search engines is ‘engagement metrics’.

You need to make sure you are posting at the right time. Do it at a time when most of your audience is online if you can.

Optimizing for Twitter

Did you know that Twitter now has approximately 353.1 million active users every month? Google also allows you to extend your Twitter reach even further.

In 2015, Google gained access to Twitter’s live tweet data. This allowed the search engine giant to index and present tweets that are most relevant to a user’s question in search engine results pages SERPs. This is great news as it means once your Twitter profile and content is optimized, you have more chance of being found on both Google and Twitter.

Initially, hashtags were used like keywords on the platform. However, this isn’t as prevalent on the site anymore. That being said, carrying out hashtag research is crucial when it comes to choosing which ones to use for your own content.

The good news is, KeywordTool has a keyword database, alongside potential Twitter hashtags you can use. This will give you a great idea of which ones you should use for your site.

You can manually look out for Twitter hashtags on the platform too if you want to see what’s currently being used. This can help you to create trend-specific content.

When you have your top keywords, you can slot them naturally into these parts of your profile and content:

Your Tweets:

  • Hashtags — Just don’t use too many as this will look like spam, aim for around three hashtags max
  • Text of your tweets

Your profile:

  • Bio — Remember to keep it up to 160 characters
  • Username

In summary

While optimizing your content for sites such as Google or Bing is important, these search engines shouldn’t be your only focus. SEO for social media can help to boost your reach and your sales to the billions of daily users.

So, the next time you are putting together your digital marketing plan, make sure you cast your SEO net much wider than traditional search engines.

Finally, Google is reportedly working on deals with Instagram and TikTok to index their video content in search results. So keyword research and the optimisation of video content in social media will likely be more important than ever.

By Anna Hall, SEO manager at Blue Array.

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