Yesterday I attended an interesting seminar around ‘Next Generation Site Architecture’ at the Search Engine Strategies conference in London. I’d have to agree that Google-friendly website architecture & website design that allows visitors to quickly and easily share your content across social networks are two of the most important aspects of any website which wants to rank highly for their chosen keywords and consistently engage with their target audience across social media. The now rapid pace of change across best practice digital marketing means that digital marketers and webmasters alike will need to keep up to speed with the latest developments to keep their website engaging for their target audience and retain influence on their target market across social media networks.
It’s obvious that having good quality content on your site and plenty of inbound links from quality, relevant websites are still the major factors that contribute towards your websites rankings for your chosen keywords. However, many marketers still think of their social networking profiles as simply links into their website when in fact they should be seen as part of their primary website. Social profiles are extensions of your company online, and many of your target audience may prefer to interact with you over social networking sites rather than your actual website. Many people feel comfortable on these platforms and marketers need to understand that they should utilise them via the production of tailored social content in order to stay front of mind rather than simply aiming to drive traffic to their website by constantly sharing links to content that can only be consumed away from the social network.
There’s already a strong argument for businesses to consider their website as ‘part of the ecosystem of the web’, encouraging them to produce good quality shareable content that their audience may wish to consume on platforms other than their actual website. The importance then of having visible links to share content from your website is obvious. Digital Marketers must make social sharing buttons clearly visible on all blog posts to enable readers to easily share content with their followers, thus expanding the reach of the company in question. Not only must Marketers make sharing their content easy for their audience, they must also make it easily readable by Google. RSS feeds, XML sitemaps and search engine friendly site architecture will enable your content to be indexed quicker by Google, whilst the use of rel=canonical will ensure the correct pages on your site are being indexed. The importance of sharing your blog posts across various social platforms that you may be active on is emphasised by the fact that Google are now able to show comments and review information generated by Ajax in their search results even though the content doesn’t actually appear in the HTML of the page listed.
The recent development of Facebook and twitter cards enables companies to show more detailed snippets in social search results. Twitter cards make it possible for you to attach more content to tweets by simply adding a few lines of HTML to your website and applying to twitter to participate by submitting your example. This is another way that your target audience can engage with more of your content without even visiting your website, a further indication that these profiles should be seen as extensions of your website, not just a method of obtaining traffic.
Of course, the above examples assume that your company actually produces good quality content in the first place. If you’re struggling to produce shareable articles, blog content or stories for social updates then why not do some research into content that’s currently in demand? Set up a Google Reader account to monitor the latest news in your industry and put your own spin on events, or do some research around companies that are thought leaders in your industry and analyse the types of articles they regularly publish. Whatever you decide to do, ensure you build your website in a way that’s easy for Google to understand and keep in mind that every member of your target audience will have different preferences when it comes to consuming the content you produce.