Integrating search and social

Getting the most out of social

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It can take several weeks or months for new website content to get top organic ranking on a search engine, especially if it's in a crowded category. But there are techniques marketers can use to boost organic rankings for social content, said Shar VanBoskirk, VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research. Social content with inbound links as well as user-generated content within a blog or other social page helps boost organic search visibility. The more links and fodder on—and linking to—a marketer's site, the better natural search results will be.

Search engines recognize when a site adds new content often and may reindex that site multiple times a day—one of the reasons many consumer sites have added blogs and user communities to their content mix, said Craig Macdonald, senior VP-products and CMO at Covario Inc., a provider of search marketing services. On the b-to-b side, companies that don't have the time or bandwidth to monitor such activities can include end-user ratings and reviews, he said.

Marketers should also frequent and comment on industry blogs, which may in turn encourage those industry bloggers to link to the marketer's blog. They can also tweet about new social content, said Dan DeMichele, director of products at Unica, a provider of digital marketing solutions. "Analyze where people are coming from and understand who your key influencers are," he said. "The people who are talking well about your brand—those are the sites you want to be pushing people to and talking about on your Facebook page and own blog posts."

Last, marketers shouldn't overlook their ability to direct traffic back to their site by participating in online discussions. In the blogosphere, users share their own experiences and content with each other, and marketers should be doing the same. In some cases, this means marketers are commenting on threads and links that are related to their companies, so they can "seed" communities with links. "Users are searching more and more through 'non-search engines' like social networks, ratings and reviews sites, blogs," VanBoskirk said. "So a marketer needs to think about creating visibility in these alternative 'search engines' as well."

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