Wednesday, May 5, 2010

KEY is the word!

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Now, Onto the Entry:

With all apologies to the classic song, "Bird is the Word," there's a new sheriff in town, and the word, today, is KEY.  As in keyword.  Get it?  Okay, lame attempt, but the facts speak for themselves and in todays online world, keywords are, well, key, to growing your audience and your bottom line.

For many small businesses and non-profits not already immersed in the daily activities of the online world, keywords can be both confusing and intimidating.  But they don't have to be.  They shouldn't be.  In fact, you should be using keywords not only for your website, but for everything you do in the social media environment.

This kind of thinking is a little different than it used to be just a couple of years ago.  Now, with the advent of so many social media platforms, along with the emergence of the "Big Three" (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) SEO keywords are being used to raise the profile of all your social media efforts.

This blog has emphasized continuously that every post you make, on your blog, your Facebook and your Twitter, should have a purpose.  Whether it's giving useful information, tips or simply disseminating your message in an entertaining fashion, there must be a reason behind every entry.  This method will help you attract new viewers and readers and, hopefully, customers.  You can, and should, be using your other social media platforms to drive people to your primary website, thus, raising your site visibility during websearches.

But imagine if your various social media platforms also use keywords to attract visitors and raise its public profile in the same way your website does.  Suddenly, you have keywords working for you not only in one location, but on every single platform you use.  It's like increasing your keyword power by the power of ten and it can mean taking your audience from a few hundred, to many thousands.

Let's start at the beginning, though for those not fully aware of what keywords are or how they work.  This short video from Vertical Measures does a great job of explaining what keywords are and how to use them.  Click the link above to view their website:

A quick note:  I am not a customer, nor am I being paid to endorse Vertical Measures.  It was simply a nice, well-done video on SEO and keywords I thought you might find useful.  You can view other videos about keywords and SEO management at this YouTube page.

If I Can Do It...

What I've discovered so far is that while clients might understand what keywords are, and how they work, there is still some hesitation and even fear about actually inserting tags and keywords into their sites.  I get this.  I'm not a computer programmer.  Heck, I use a Mac so I don't ever have to worry about the inner workings and strange computer language programs use to converse with each other.  But I promise you, if I can do it, you can as well.

Messing with HTML code can be a nervewracking experience.  But basically you're inserting your keywords into only a few specific lines and you don't have to know HTML, since you're simply typing words, English words, into the target lines of code.  If you get confused, or have questions, do a general search online, ask a friend, or use the help function on whatever site you're using.  Once you locate the specific lines of code you need, all you have to do is type in your keywords. 

Pretty simple stuff, actually.  But that's just the internal SEO/Keyword side of the equation.  As the video above showed, there's an external or "Off Site" aspect to your SEO/Keyword activities as well.  And this is where your Facebook, Twitter, Blog and LinkedIn platforms come into play.

While you can't input keywords into the HTML code of your Facebook page or Twitter account, you can view most of your social media efforts as if they were separate websites.  This means the more links you have to your Facebook page, the more visible it will be on most search engines. 

For instance, if you have a business Facebook page, the more friends, the better.  The more links you have on your page, the more visible it will be.  This kind of SEO process works for some platforms, such as Facebook, but it's not as effective for other platforms such as Twitter.

So how CAN you use keywords to increase the visibility of your Twitter posts?  Simple; by watching and reading.  Keywords are still most useful when it comes to raising the visibility of your primary website or blog.  But when you go onto Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, don't just post an entry, but take a moment to actually see what others are talking about.

Here is an excerpt from an article on Gather.com about social media keyword useage:  Click on the link to view the entire article.

Fine-Tuning Your Keyword Strategy
Consumers are using a variety of social media platforms to reveal a wealth of valuable information about themselves and what they want.  This information is so valuable because it can be used to help small businesses better optimize their websites and improve rankings in the search engines.  So how do you adjust to the social chatter?  Find out what consumers are saying about your product, service or brand.  This can be done by doing things like viewing the tweets associated with your Twitter hash tag and following those conversations.  You could also search Facebook with your existing primary keywords to figure out what other terms your contacts and potential audience members are using in their social discussions.

Do a quick keyword search on Twitter and look at the trends.  For example, as of this writing the top rated trends on Twitter included: Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, TeenThings, JustinBieber, IdSmash, Don't Be Scared.  Now, what can you do with this information?  First thing you can do is make sure that some of the top trending Tweet topics mesh with your organization.  I can't really use Justin Bieber as part of this blog (although I just did, so you just KNOW I'm going to use it as a keyword in my Twitter posting, LOL).  But I CAN post something about Mother's Day, Cinco de Mayo and probably TeenThings. 

Read and Observe:

By using one or more of these keywords in my Tweet post, I can suddenly reach a larger number of readers than I would have otherwise.  But you can also do something similar in your Facebook, blogs and other social media platforms.  When you go onto FB, take a few minutes to see what people are talking about.  Maybe it's Foursquare, maybe it's the Arizona Immigration law, maybe it's last night's American Idol show.  Once you get a sense of what people are talking about, you can craft your posts to appeal to that conversation. 

In this way, you can increase your overall number of readers and, hopefully, drive people to your website.  Plus, you can take these keywords and install them into your website HTML and gain more visibility that way.  Because if people are talking about it on Twitter and Facebook, they're probably also looking it up online.  Having these keywords in your site HTML and you could pop up on any number of search engines. 

The trick here is that you HAVE to make sure that whatever your post is for the day, or blog entry or overall site content, it HAS to align with the keywords you're using for a particular page on your site or for your site in general.  Otherwise, search engines like Google will basically ignore your keywords.  You can fool some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but you can't fool Google at all.

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