How to Place Search Terms on Social Media - dummies

By Jan Zimmerman, Deborah Ng

You need to place key search terms on your social media pages. Start by reviewing your research for keywords and phrases. Decide on a primary set of four to six terms that best describe your company. Because your search terms must still relate to your content, you may want to reuse other sets for individual posts from your SEO research, mix them up, or include additional terms not optimized on your primary site.

You can place these types of terms in many locations:

  • Tags: Tags, which are the social media equivalents of keywords, are assigned to specific content. Because many social media services place a limit on the number of tags that can be assigned to a given piece of content, choose a few from your primary set of search terms and select others (for example, brands, products, market, or competition) from your secondary list or elsewhere that are specific to your content.

If you’re pulling tags out of thin air, remember to confirm which synonyms are most popular with the users of that service. For example, do people search for Yule or Noel or Christmas? Use a keyword selection tool for websites or check a tag cloud, if it exists, on the service you’re using for the latest trends in tag usage.

  • Hashtags: #search, #now what, #huh? Words or phrases preceded by the pound sign (#) are called hashtags. Used on social media to designate a search term or topic, hashtags facilitate internal searches on that platform. When people click on or search for a hashtag, they receive a page or stream of compiled posts using that hashtag. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr (blog), Pinterest, and other social networks all support the use of hashtags.

Alas, it’s difficult to determine what similar hashtags might already be in use, let alone which of the similar hashtags are the most effective. Sometimes you can effectively transpose hashtags to different platforms and sometimes you can’t. For starters, try creating hashtags for your company name, brand names, and search terms that are part of your standard suite of keywords. Test the terms you use to see whether they’re popular or rarely used.

For more on hashtag etiquette and best practices, see Sprout Social or Hubspot for tips.

  • Profiles: Just about every form of social media asks you to establish an account. Most profiles ask for a brief description of your company and location, as well as the URLs for your website and blog. Work your primary set of keywords and brands into your profile and any other place you can comfortably integrate them, including featured products, department names, the marketing tagline, and staff bios.

Occasionally, a service requests only your email address. Of course, use the one with your domain name in it.

If you haven’t already set up email to forward from you@yourdomain.com to whatever email address you have from your ISP, do so now. Most hosting packages include at least five free email addresses. Email from @yourdomain.com not only makes you look more professional but also adds to brand value.

  • Page content, status updates, and comments: Obviously, you should include search terms in the first paragraph of text for each blog post. They don’t need to be part of your primary set of terms, so you have some creative flexibility. Incorporate search terms in updates and comments, too, to increase the likelihood of being found in on-site search results.
  • Metatags, titles, and headlines: Use search terms from your list in the title of your blog or page name; in the title of your post; in <alt> tags, captions, or descriptions for images; and within metatags if you have a separate URL for a blog. Each service handles these elements a little differently.

Every search engine has its own rules. You may need to tweak your terms for not only general search engines, but also internal search engines on specific social media services.

Once upon a time (until 2014), you used to pay a bit of a performance penalty on Facebook by using an automated service such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social to update multiple social media channels at once. This is no longer true. However, long, duplicate posts might set off warning bells on Google, as will auto-generated content that appears to have been created by a software tool simply to include search terms.