SEO: The Third Pillar of Social Media

Debra Ellis President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Posted on April 27th 2012

SEO: The Third Pillar of Social Media

Social search is the most underutilized marketing tool available today. The combination of the search engine power with social network opinions works together to influence people’s buying decisions. Search results with social proof have more credibility.

Natural search is one of the best ways to attract prospects and encourage customers to return to your website. It is economical and effective. And, when it is done well, little maintenance is required to keep people coming back.

Engaging with your community encourages individuals to share your information with their network and provides social proof but this isn’t enough to optimize social search. The basic requirements for natural search success also work with social search. Good keywords and links improve your company’s visibility and guide people to your website. Without them, social proof does little to promote your business.

We learned this the hard way when testing the recommendations for social media success several years ago. When Twitter was relatively new, we spent two years testing the effect of sharing quality content in the form of marketing and operational tips to see if they would generate leads for our business. The results were dismal. The tweets were regularly shared with other communities but not one lead was generated. Zero. Zip. Nada. There were no spikes in traffic on our website. No increased sales of our guides. No bumps in our free newsletter subscriptions. The bottom line was that we invested two years and received nothing that helped our business grow.

The education made the experiment worthwhile. During this time, Google launched social search. We saw our tweets showing up in real time results. Since we didn’t include links, people who wanted more information had to go to Twitter and then navigate to our site. This didn’t happen because people have to be really motivated to make the extra effort. Our best takeaway was to always make it easy for people to connect directly with us.

There are three components to a successful social search strategy:

  1. Solid Content

    People need a reason to act. It doesn’t matter what you want them to do, if the content doesn’t provide enough information to give your business credibility and motivate the reader to seek more, nothing will happen.

  2. Good Keywords

    Social search works the same as regular search. Bots are doing the work and following the algorithm provided by the engine. Including the keywords and phrases that match people’s needs to your company’s solutions is the most effective way to get top rankings and generate quality leads.

  3. Navigational Ease

    Always include links to the next step in the process. Direct selling rarely works in social media. You need a plan that moves people from initial interest to conversion. Map it out before creating the content so everything works together.

Creating a search strategy is more about technique than creativity. It doesn’t make campaigns go viral, but that is okay. It is much better than that because it provides consistent, sustainable traffic every day that grows over time. Start investing in your company’s future today by optimizing every post, tweet, and update for search.


Debra Ellis

President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Debra Ellis is a business consultant, author, and speaker. She specializes in showing companies how to improve customer acquisition and retention using integrated marketing and service strategies. Her latest marketing guide, 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, is a practical resource for marketers seeking better results with minimal investment. Her engineering background provides statistical insight to finding actionable data that can be used to grow companies and reduce costs.

She is recognized as an expert in marketing from direct mail to social media, customer behavior, and strategic planning. Her expertise is often tapped by media sources including: The New York Times, CNN/’s Small Business Makeovers, Target Marketing, Multichannel Merchant, and MarketingProfs.

Her marketing guides include 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, Social Media 4 Direct Marketers, and Marketing to the Customer Lifecycle.

Debra loves the art and science of multichannel marketing. She is a student and teacher of the methods that transform shoppers into buyers and buyers into lifelong customers. In 1995, she founded Wilson & Ellis Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in creating strategies that make channels and departments work together to optimize the customer experience. Since then, she has worked with over a hundred distinguished clients such as Costco, Edmund Scientifics, Jacuzzi, Ross-Simons Jewelry, and The Body Shop.

Prior to founding her firm, Debra was instrumental in the record growth of Ballard Designs, Inc. while serving as Chief Operating Officer. Today, she uses her experience and expertise to show executives how to successfully navigate marketing channels and integrate activities to profitably grow their business. Her practical approach maximizes the return on investment.

She can be reached via email at She blogs at

See Full Profile >