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May 9th, 2011

Optimize Social Networks For Search For a Reason

If you were to ask me what to do if your official Facebook or Twitter pages weren’t appearing on the first page of search results for your company’s name my first response might very well be along the lines of making sure those pages were as optimized as possible. But right after that I’d ask what the top results are that are pushing those pages out of the top ten and figure out what to do then.

It’s possible, after all, that you the page is filled with positive blog posts, news stories and other information that’s not doing a bit of harm to the brand. Of course the inverse is also possible, that there are so many negative product reviews or other pages that anything official is simply crowded out.

I would never advise a client to undertake some sort of shady program to push those unflattering pages down in the search rankings. Not only does that kind of activity violate various guidelines both technical and ethical but, honestly, it’s not needed.

A search results page full of negative consumer commentary does not indicate you have a search problem. It indicates you have a reputation management problem. And the best way to counter bad press or opinion is by generating positive stories and perceptions. This is where we come back to tried and true methods like responding to negative statements in comments, distributing positive messages through owned media (like a corporate blog) and otherwise working to make sure that people are happy with the product or service that you, as a company, are providing.

Going back to the original stated problem – that social networks aren’t appearing at the top of search results – the question also has to be asked why it’s so important that those network pages appear so highly in addition to the main official website? What’s the strategic reason for them to appear independently and why is that more valuable than first directing people to the official site, where they can then connect on the social network the prefer if they so choose?

Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting those network profiles to appear highly in search results and working to optimize them so the chances of them doing so are increased. But as with just about everything the efforts to do so need to be undertaken in respectful and above-board ways that lift the overall public perception of the company and for reasons that are in line with broader corporate goals.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Social Networks

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