6 Ways to Improve SEO with B2B Social Media

As search algorithms continue to change, and give more value to social search, it is more important than even for B2B companies to create an integrated approach to social media to improve their SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is based on two different types of factors, on-page, which you control and off-page, which you don’t control. But using social media can help the social signals that search engines now use as part of how they serve up their search results.

B2B marketers should be looking to expand the reach of their social media efforts to drive more traffic back to their websites (and their calls-to-action). If you are unclear about the importance of social search, look no further than Google Plus. Google created a social network so they could get a better picture of our social connections and tap into them to provide better search results.

6 Ways to Improve SEO with B2B Social Media

1. Create a Unified Keyword Strategy
The idea of keywords starts with search. Google built its ad business on the back of its search results. Whether you are doing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or just trying to optimize your search results, start with Google’s Keyword Tool to develop your list of keywords. If these are the words your customers and prospects use when they are searching for you, make sure you use these same terms in your social media activities. These keywords should included in blog posts, especially their titles, as well as within posts on social networks. The more often your posts are found, the more often they can be shared.
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2. Make Your B2B Blog As Social As Possible
Once you blog posts draw traffic, you want to do all you can to encourage sharing of posts. Many B2B companies focus on building a community on their blog through comments, but you are better off building a bigger community off the blog. With this in mind, rather than ask questions to encourage readers to leave comments, ask them to share the post instead. You also want to make sure the blog has sharing buttons in logical places. In the case of this post, not only is the main post shareable, but each of the six ways are shareable with its own Tweet button. Use those buttons to share a couple of these points in additional to the main post.
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3. Encourage Employee Sharing of Content
One of the easiest sources of sharing is your own workforce. Encourage employees to share blog posts and other content by making it easy for them to share. Provide a pre-written tweet that you email out to employees, or even share on internal network like Chatter. There are even tools like GaggleAMP to make employee sharing even easier. You can cue up the posts for employees and they can just send them with the push of a button.
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4. Leverage Your LinkedIn Network
Just like you want to encourage your employees to share your great blog posts and ebooks, you want to share it with your LinkedIn network. You can post it to your personal status update, your company status update and in any relevant groups. Since you are looking for SEO benefit, consider asking people to share it with their own networks for greater reach and greater sharing. Depending on the type of content, you might want to pick 5-10 of your contacts and ask them to blog about it. This will create some links back to your site.
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5. Properly Name Your Social Media Profiles
Sometimes B2B companies try to get too clever and create a Twitter account or a Facebook profile with their descriptive keywords, rather than their company name. This upsets the balance in the universe. Common best practices are to name your profiles with the company name and use keywords in your profile bios and updates. This architecture of social media keeps the balance in place and shows that the profile is from a real company, rather than someone trying to spam search results by keyword stuffing profiles. You can develop trust by following these guidelines so people with share your content.
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6. Write Compelling Social Media Posts for Readers, Not Spiders
The most important thing to remember about using social media to improve SEO for your B2B company is that you need to write for your readers. Not the spiders crawling the web for the search engines. If you are trying to network engineers, you will naturally write about things that interest them and may cause them to consider purchasing your products. You need to use keywords so they will find your content, but you need to create great content that can be read by humans so they will value it and share it.
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If you have any thoughts, please add them down below, but we would really rather you share this post on all your social networks. Feel free to print it out and put on the fridge in the breakroom, as well as the one at home. (I’m just following #2 above)

Photo credit: Flickr

Google+ Pages for B2B Companies

Google+ has released their business pages and now B2B marketers need to understand why they need to join Google’s social network. The biggest reason is search. You may have heard about social search and how your connections influence your search results, well, Google+ does more of that. Share your content on Google+ and it has a better chance of showing up higher in search results.

If you jumped into Google+ when personal pages came out and you understand how the platform works, you know what kinds of posts resonate and how important engagement is to the platform, you should absolutely create a Google+ page for your B2B company today. If you are not familiar with Google+, you need to create a personal page and get started understanding it. Create your business page too, so you can start learning about how to use it effectively.

A Google+ Business Page is tied to ONE Gmail account and you cannot add other administrators at this time. Make sure you assign the right person to create your page, because they will be the only one who manages it until they roll out multiple admin support (which is expected). One way to address this is to use a company Gmail account, so multiple people can log in to the page. I did come across a reference to giving someone access to a page, but was unable to find details. I will update this as it changes.

11/11/11 Update: Google is discouraging people from creating a new company Gmail. They would rather people create a Business Page with their personal Gmail account, knowing that multi-account management is coming this quarter.

How to Create a Google+ Page

Go to the Business Pages Site and click Create Your Google+ Page.

Choose company, select your category and enter your information into the fields provided. Since this is brand new, there is not an obvious to edit this after it is created.

Google reminds users of the importance of including a web link on their Google+ Page.

Another huge benefit of Google+ is that it is the first social network that allows you to segment your customers, prospects, partners and even vertical industries into Circles so you can publish targeted messages to them. These sample Circles remind users of this important function.

Google wants to make sure you know what to do now that you have created the page, so they offer some suggestions, as well as easy ways to promote your page.

And just to show that the best way to learn is by doing, I created a page for Social Media B2B. Circle us to learn more about Google+ as we learn more.

Remember as you are learning about using Google+ and developing a content calendar, there are no tools that currently let you manage your pages. This means that publishing and engaging will be manual, at least for the time being. Make sure you have the resources to keep up with your plans.

Here are some examples of B2B Google+ Pages. Add yours in the comments below, especially if you have started one for a non-technical B2B company.
Argyle Social
Dell
Hubspot
Intel
Radian6
Salesforce.com

Using Google Social Search for B2B Sales

Google Social Search allows you to see custom search results based on the people in your social circle. By connecting with customers, prospects and others in your industry on the social web, B2B companies can discover what topics are important to those audiences. It’s also a great way to find content from your trusted sources and to find additional content you may be missing.

In late January this year Google released the social search feature in beta. In order to use it, you’ll need to have a Google Profile established.

Here’s how to use Google Social Search:

1. Sign into Google
2. Run a search on a topic like you normally do
3. When you see the results, click the “more search tools” drop-down in the left side navigation
4. Look under “All Results” and click on “Social”

The results will then be filtered to include those found through your Google connections, which Google calls your “Social Circle” (see screen below). These connections come from your Google Reader subscriptions, Google Buzz followers, Google chat buddies/Gmail contacts and people you’re connected to via channels like Twitter and FriendFeed that you’ve listed in your Profile. This is why it is important to follow customers and prospects on social networks. Results can also come from secondary connections that are publicly associated with your direct connections.

Google Social Search results page

As a next step, click on “My social circle” to go to the Social Circle page. There you will see all your direct connections listed alphabetically. Each connection will list all the links to content they’ve provided in their Google Profile.

Google Social Circle

From that list, review the people or other connections and make sure you’re following all their content. This will keep you up to date on industry issues, and you can also identify topics on the minds of prospects. Knowing what they are sharing online will inform conversations with them, both online and offline. If they are sharing information about a competitor’s products, review how that product or service compares to yours before communicating with them again.

You should also click on the Social content tab at the top of the screen to see what content and channels you’re sharing. You may want to optimize your profile so you can lead your connections to the content that is most relevant to you.

Using Google Social Search is a great opportunity to learn what your customers and prospects find interesting enough to share, giving you opportunities for contact. You can push connections to your social content as well as find additional content from the sources or contacts that matter most to you.

Google Will Force All B2B Companies To Tweet

b2b - Google Search

Yesterday will long be known as the day that Google forced B2B companies to tweet. The search giant made an announcement about its new real-time search feature. See the video below for a quick look at the feature that will be rolling out to all users in the next couple of days.

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With this announcement Google has forced B2B companies to care about Twitter and other forms of user-generated content that are published in real-time. In recent years B2B companies have relied heavily on search engine results for sources of lead generation and Web site traffic. Google has now changed the game when it comes to search engine marketing with this transition to real-time search.

I have written about the importance of social search, but this new real-time search data is a more immediate concern for B2B companies. It will be rolled out to all Google users in the next couple of days. Real-time data is now the first section of results a user sees in Google. It will be placed above traditional web search results. Being first in traditional Google search results is now less important.

All B2B Companies Now have To Tweet
The argument by B2B companies has long been that my customers aren’t on Twitter and other social networks, so I don’t need to be there either. Google has given companies on Twitter and other real-time platforms, like Yahoo Answers, a clear advantage over the competition. Research has long found that even if a person is not active on the social web, they rely heavily on search as a way to discover information. Now the information they discover first is going to be from the social web. This means that if your company doesn’t tweet, it is going to lose some search traffic. Regardless of the engagement that happens on Twitter and other platforms, companies are now going to have to contribute content to these networks to be included in search and to reap the rewards of referral traffic and leads.

It Is Like The Beginning Of Google Again
When the web and search were just starting, online data was only a small fraction of what it is today. There was less competition in ranking for keywords in search engines and generating traffic. The beginning of real-time search brings a similar situation to the web again. Because many niche companies have been reluctant to participate on the social web the amount of data and keywords for niche B2B keywords is small. If you are the only company on Twitter in your B2B industry, you can likely dominate real-time search results in the short term and are well positioned for long-term traffic growth and awareness.

Yes, You Have To Keyword Optimize Your Tweets
If you have been a company on Twitter for awhile now, then you are likely focusing on engagement for customers and leads. That is is still very important, but now you have to also think about the words you use in each tweet. If you have been involved in any type of search marketing, it is likely that you used Google’s keyword tool, or another tool, to look at popular search terms related to your business. If you haven’t done this, you should. Once you have done it, combined with other analysis, you can create a list of keywords to optimize for your web properties. Today, you now have to apply this same list to your social content.

For example: When tweeting about this blog during a day I would use different keywords each time to help this blog be included in a wider variety of real-time search results. To illustrate check out the same tweet that could be send using a variety of keywords:

Tweet 1: Great B2B social media article on lead generation: (insert link)

Tweet 2: Great article about generating B2B leads using social media: (insert link)

Tweet 3: Great B2B social media search example: (insert link)

Tweet 4: Lead generation article about leveraging business-to-business social media: (insert link)

These example tweets are only a few combinations that could be done in an efforts to maximize search relevance, but should serve as an example for how to think about optimizing social content, including tweets for Google’s new real-time search function.

The announcement of real-time search by Google is one of the most important social media announcements of 2009. It will change how companies look at leveraging social media and will likely speed adoption.

How will this change by Google impact your business-to-business social media efforts?

Why Social Search Is THE Justification Of Social Media For B2B

Over the past year, as we have written blog posts, attended events and talked to people about the implications of social media for B2B organizations we have continued to encounter one idea. The idea that social media isn’t right for B2B companies and some even assert that it is a complete waste of time and a fad. I have made arguments against these points in the past, but recently I got a major boost to my side of the argument: Google.

Explaining Social Search

Before I hit you over the head with my new backing in the battle for social media for B2B, I first need to provide some background. This is a post that is dedicated to social search.

Have you ever stood on a street corner and asked a group of friends if a restaurant nearby was any good?

That simple question is an example of social search in an offline setting. What if you could ask a question to your friends, coworkers and business partners and could see anything they have said online about the question? This is an example of online social search. As data is created everyday on the web: product reviews, videos, blog posts, store ratings, etc. it only makes sense that search engines like Google would be working to integrate this data into search results.

I recommend taking a look this video that outlines Google’s newly announced test of social search and shows exactly how social search works.

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Social Search: The Pending B2B Opportunity
When a potential customer is connected with you or someone within your organization on a social network and is shown your business or product in their search results page because of it, the game as we know it has changed. The day that social search is a standard feature your business is on a different playing field.

In a world with social search, it matters how engaged your business and employees are online. Currently, organic search engine optimization (SEO) is a priority for many B2B organizations, but social search makes SEO much less important. Social search shows content by connection and shows you how you are connected to that person. (see example below)

b2b marketing - Google Search

Social search makes it a requirement for businesses to be engaged online, as well as encourage employees to engage online. As social search use rises, those not active will be left out of inbound marketing opportunities entirely. Google is not the only search company working on social search. The future of organizing online data is about context and social connections provide great context. Businesses who publish smart and establish organic relationships will win. Others will get left behind.

Try Google Social Search Yourself
Google’s social search is still an experiment but you can try it out by enabling it in Google Labs. Right now the social search results are at the bottom of the page. It is easy to see how social search could help provide more trusted content and thus be an important part of researching business purchases.