With their humongous user counts, main social media networks seem like traffic gold mines.
But, the promise of thousands of users or followers comes with a downside – how are they supposed to get to all the content you’re publishing, appreciate it and maybe – hopefully! – eventually, convert?
The key concept I’m going to give you is this: “social media SEO”.
That’s right, SEO optimization is not just for the “overt” search engines like Google and Bing. Social networks also employ their own search algorithms, so the whole «great social presence will automatically gain me lots of brand awareness» rhetoric will only bring you disappointment.
Throw great, hard-worked content out there in the social tangle just like that and you’re practically asking your target audience to look for a needle in the haystack. Which, of course, they don’t have the time and the willingness to do.
So, before putting your AdWords or remarketing campaign in place, there is another step to be completed: taking into account the most basic elements of your shared content.
Like links, for instance. Or meta description. Or author display.
Simple tweaks like these could be decisive in getting a social traffic boost. So, it’s time I disclose the social media SEO trick you need to employ, in order to drive more people to click on your shared content.
It’s called the Open Graph Protocol and it grants you control over the look of your content on social platforms.
Making sure you have this Social Media SEO element within the overall SEO strategy is one step further towards driving the traffic you need from social networks.
Understanding Social Objects
Just like a smart shopfront which compels passers-by without them realizing it, a neat social profile makes it easy for readers to notice your posts.
And by ‘neat’ I actually mean ‘flawless’. No weird-looking links, no inaccurate thumbnails, no issues within the social graph structure.
Social Graph is basically another name for Social Network. In other words, a map encompassing all its user interactions on social media, a medium which displays “social objects” like:
- media items
- properties (e.g. websites)
For these objects to be ‘share’-able across websites and social networks, there needs to be a data structure enabling the whole process.
The connection between this structure and other websites is the Open Graph protocol.
What it essentially does is it takes object-related details and passes them to the graph. These details called Open Graph tags are necessary for an ‘object’ to be added to the social graph.
I know, it seems a tad too abstract. So let’s take a basic example.
You have your most recent blog post. The elements you’ll need Open Graph tags for are:
They will need to be integrated within social networks’ native environment. Otherwise, your shared link would look somehow like a nagging banner ad – something no one likes, right?
You’d want something like this:
The Open Graph Protocol
“The Open Graph protocol enables any website to become a rich object in a social graph. For instance, this is used on Facebook to allow any web page to have the same functionality as any other object on Facebook.” – Opg.me
A rich object is an element (your website) which presents the same attributes as any object which is proprietary of Facebook. It allows for seamlessly integrating your webpage into the News Feed, so that you get a better representation of your content.
The second you paste a URL in your status box, Facebook starts searching for that page. It finds the page and it reads it.
It reads the meta tag which provides the image, title and a short snippet which gets shown in the post you’re sharing. Meta tags provide information relevant to search engines.
There are 5 attributes:
They help Facebook find attributes of the content meta-tag to help it read the article properly.
Without the use of Open Graph, the Facebook crawler takes just the basics of your content to share and doesn’t get you the proper distribution or insights gathering.
Tags, Properties, and Other Attributes
Open Graph Meta tags were introduced by Facebook in 2010. What they do is they allow other websites to become rich “graph” objects and to function as other Facebook objects.
So, you can control how information travels from a website to Facebook when you share a page, like it etc. The information is sent via Open Graph Meta tags in the <head> part of the website’s code.
Squirrly SEO will grab the data from your Page/Post content and will build the Open Graph, so that each social share will represent your article type.
In case you notice your URLs are not displayed as rich objects, you can check them in the Facebook for Developers section to check whether you have the right parameters set up.
The 8 Tags to Rule Social Media SEO
8 tags, one condition. The condition is you need to put them in the header of your page.
og:title – Pretty self-explanatory. You put your article title here.
og:site_name – Your website’s name.
og:description – A short description about the linked content. Think of it as a google snippet.
og:url – The pages URL. Note that this acts like an identifier for Facebook’s crawler, so having the canonical URL allows you to track your links progress with analytics tools.
og:image – The image associated with your article. It’s obligatory your image is .JPEG and has a size of at least 200×200. For the best results, your image should have a ratio of 1.91:1, otherwise Facebook will crop it or even worse revert to a less visible link preview.
fb:app_id – The unique ID which lets Facebook know the identity of your site. This is crucial for Facebook Insights to work properly. Here’s a link to their documentation in case you want to learn more.
og:type – Specifies the type of media you’re linking. In our case, it’s an article.
article: author – Links to the author of the article. It can link to either his Facebook Profile or Facebook Page. This allows for ‘expanding the current follower base of the author’.
These are the basics which will offer you a welcome social media boost.
If you want to go even further with Open-Graph, Opg.me has a list of all the currently available meta tags supported by Facebook.
One Setting, No Social Shares Trouble
As marketers, control is what we could very well use in our lives.
It all starts with the attention we’re paying to details – and social media SEO is one of them. Checking that you have the Open Graph Protocol all set is pretty much the foundation of your social media marketing edifice.
Weave your posts in the social fabric and don’t allow any loose ends. A simple SEO setting will do the job and will make sure no reader is dissuaded from clicking on those links you worked so hard for.
In Squirrly SEO Plugin, here’s how you can take charge of your social-driven traffic, with a simple setting:
Control your brand to the smallest of details!
In fact, at Squirrly, this is what we’re constantly working towards: helping everyone become #BetterMarketers with swift integrations and handy features.
Not long ago did we launch the latest, Quick Squirrly SEO, which also helps with your Open Graph integration. If you don’t already have it installed, you might want to click here and give it a try. It has never been easier for you to manage on-page SEO right from the WordPress editor.