I’m sure you’ve been on your Facebook feed in the recent past, only to see it dominated by one person liking everything from such intellectual topics such as existentialism, to the less intellectual Jersey Shore, and even such activities necessary to survival, such as breathing. And, like me, I’m sure you had a good laugh and blew it off. But I’m here to tell you that if you aren’t using the Facebook Like with your website, you are doing it wrong!
Integrating a “like” button into your website is integral to SEO success, since Facebook is now entering the search market with its Open Graph Protocol, and some are considering Facebook to be the only competitor to Google in terms of search marketing. So, in order to tap into this potential stream of traffic from Facebook, you need to integrate Open Graph Protocol into your site. In the following paragraphs, there will be a brief description of Open Graph Protocol, as well as a brief mention of potential strategies to employ in order to utilize your Facebook page.
To start, Facebook is moving in the direction of a social search engine. Suffice to say, without me throwing out glaring statistics at you, that Facebook is no fad. It is here to stay, and it is only going to get larger. And it is innovating, especially in the realm of search engines. Many sites now, such as the ones listed in the introduction (I don’t want you to click on Jersey Shore more than you have to), are listed on Facebook and have the ability to be “liked.” And it works the other way as well—websites frequently have “like” buttons attached to them, linking you to their Facebook profile. This is all old news, I know, but its necessary to know the stakes—Facebook is a new market for SEO marketers, and here is how to do it.
In order to optimize your page for Facebook, you have to enable Open Graph Protocol in your coding. The Open Graph Protocol then allows you to define four properties in your meta tags—title, type, image, and canonical URL. In addition, there are also other entries that aren’t required, but highly recommended, such as location, contact info, object types, and content descriptions. For instance, from here is what an entry for the movie “The Rock” would look like, via IMDB, in its meta tags:
Now, moving on past the technical side, the major advantage of this “Like” button is that it is in some degree replacing the Link, in terms of SEO jargon. The more people that “like” your page on Facebook, the more relevant your Facebook page will be to particular searches in the Facebook platform. Basically, imagine Facebook as another search engine to optimize for, with its own strategies and tactics, since in many senses it is very different from the major search engines. So how do you get “Likes?” It isn’t easy, but with these strategies you can see results.
First, and most obvious, you have to offer something in exchange for a “Like.” For instance, a short time ago Chipotle offered a buy one get one free deal on a burrito for anyone who liked their fan page, linked to their external page. And consequently, many more people began to “Like” Chipotle on Facebook, thereby generating much more traffic to their external page. Find what you can offer via your page, whether it be a giveaway or a discount, more “Likes” means more Facebook interaction, and more interaction with your external site.
In addition to giveaways, keep supplying content. Keep your Facebook site fresh, with new ads, new commercials, and new content. Keep your fans interested in you, and give them something to tell their friends about. That’s one of the best things about Facebook—it is very easy for word-of-mouth advertising to take hold, as all one has to do to share a link with a friend is type in another friends name, or update their status. The effort barrier is much easier to get past. Also, depending on what you or your client does in terms of business, you can offer sneak peeks of upcoming products to fans who “Like” your page. I for one have been caught by this nifty bit of link bait (now “Like Bait”) by several movies and other products. If you have a cool new product about to be introduced and need a Facebook “Like” spark, use curiosity against your potential fans!
And finally, keep interacting with your fans. The better the connection that people feel with the product, the more likely they will keep “Liking” your page. And the more likely they will tell their friends, leading to more traffic and conversions to both your Facebook page and your external page.
So, if you haven’t both created a Facebook page and incorporated a “Like” button onto your external page, you are missing out on a lot of potential traffic and conversions. To utilize both features is fairly simple, and you can see an immediate increase in traffic. So don’t skip on optimizing for SEO for Facebook, because Facebook will only get bigger—don’t miss out!
Bryan is an Assistant Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.