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I was showing a friend of mine some SEO basics the other day when Social Media Optimization became the topic of conversation. He was asking me how SMO really can help with natural search results in ways that Search Engine Optimization cannot, and in explaining this concept to him, I found myself repeating the same word over and over: Networking.

When it comes to optimization, a lot of us get carried away with the technical aspects of the trade. The truth is, many of us could debate the effectiveness of particular natural search marketing strategies all day long, but what it comes down to is your website’s worth on the Net, how the search engines view that worth, and respectively, when and where your site will be displayed in results. No matter what strategy you or your firm implements, and no matter what keywords best describe your business or service, I think one focus should always remain center stage, and that is the networking aspect of SMO.

Consider your businesses presence on the web. Is your name, brand or logo seen around the Internet, perhaps on various respectable sites, or are potential customers / clients seeing these things for the first time when they land on the the first page of your site (or whichever site their search brought them to)? The same applies to your particular services or products, and so on. The point here being, what are you doing to reach people, and not just making it easier for them to reach you?

When it comes to the world of Social Media Optimization, I believe networking is not only the right thing to do (since that is what these sites are for), but also a large part of the puzzle, and here’s why:

  • Consider results from sites like Myspace, Digg, Flickr!, etc. These are just a few of the Social Media sites available to the public, and for free. Within these results, I often see links that lead to personal profiles and pages. Have these people performed any sort of optimization for their profiles or pages? Probably not – and yet, they are showing up for searches, often times near the top of the first page. Why? Because they actively participate in the community – they network.
  • Going back to the idea of reaching your target market, and not just making it easier for them to reach you – what will a dormant profile on any Social Media site accomplish? Nothing. Interacting with the community regularly (not spamming!) shows interest in the community, and usually, this means that the community will take an interest in you. There’s a word for this sort of interaction…ah yes, networking.
  • Are image searches going to help bring targeted traffic to your site? Probably not – so how else are you going to get your brand and logo out there? Traditional marketing statistics show that branding has effectively brought many companies [additional] success over the years, and there is no reason why this concept should be ignored when it comes to Internet marketing, and it should be incorporated with an SMO campaign. Using your logo as a profile picture can get that image out there to a lot of people. Of course, the logo itself should be well designed and pleasant to look at – perhaps even entice a user to click on it for a closer view (and therefore view your profile). Bottom line – unless you have an active PPC campaign displaying image ads, or a lot of popular friends in your niche that will display your logo (and a link to you) on their site, there are very few other ways to have any control over who sees your brand or logo. Once again – networking is key to get this image out there and seen by the masses.

As has become commonplace for me, I must state that spamming, automated interaction (that is a program designed to visit and add friends, post comments, etc on other users’ profiles/pages), or anything of the like are extremely frowned upon, and furthermore, are not effective strategies. It boggles my mind that between all my blogs I receive about 20-40 spam comments a day.

The aforementioned is not supposed to be a step-by-step, nor a DIY on Social Media Optimization, but rather a polite suggestion to those that practice SMO. It may seem pointless to put the extra effort into a SMO campaign, but from experience, I have found simple interaction and contribution to these communities to be very satisfying, and often do help to achieve SMO goals.

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