SEO for PR: 5 Facebook changes that affect search

Don’t do anything on your brand’s Facebook page until you read this story about Timeline’s impact on search engine optimization.

On Mar. 30, Facebook released its much-anticipated Timeline format for brand pages. As many community managers and PR pros review, update, and populate their timelines, it’s a great time to get reacquainted with the features of Facebook that can help boost search engine optimization (SEO). With the Timeline update, teams should continue to look to their Facebook page to promote website content and link popularity. The ability to draw attention to branded content remains the biggest SEO benefit Facebook has to offer. Take note of the following changes: No more default landing page. This is a big change for SEO. The Default tab was a feature most SEO teams leveraged to help the page rank high in search engine results because it enabled page administrators to promote tabs with the most search-friendly copy. Without the ability to select a search-friendly default tab, page administrators will have to rely on other SEO tactics to help push a page up in search results. Such tactics include increasing the amount of fan engagement, shares, and sites that link to the page. You can now have a cover photo and your logo. This is arguably the biggest change visually, and Facebook has some pretty strict guidelines regarding what can and can’t be included in the image. It being the first thing people see when they visit your page, stretch your creative muscle and consider how you can create fan engagement and feedback without violating the terms. Additionally, Facebook photos will continue to appear in search engine image results when someone searches for your brand. With the added cover photo, the image in the results will appear more prominent (picture below). If users find your page to be creative or engaging, they may be apt to link to your page or like you more often. The additional popularity will help you rank higher in search engine results. Milestones and achievements. This is the whopper that is central to the new layout. Status updates, posts, “likes,” and other activities are now visually displayed by date. The timeline will go back to when the page was created, with the ability to add historical content from even earlier. Old updates will be easier to find, allowing great content to live on and be re-discovered. Populating the timeline can be a great way to generate new links to your website content. Be sure to use milestones and achievements to promote important content that isn’t native to Facebook—since the added attention should help that content rank higher in search engines. Highlight posts with Pin Post feature. This is another enhancement to wall posts that enables you to draw more attention to important content on your website or other sites. Similar to milestones and achievements, this may be a great opportunity to highlight a specific piece of content that’s getting a lot of interest or give a boost to content that isn’t getting a lot of visibility. Highlighted posts appear at the top of the timeline for a week, so in the absence of the default landing page tab option, use this feature to bring information front and center. Public access to your brand traffic data. This is a bit of an analytics game changer, because it allows fans or competitors to monitor the number of people talking about you, along with your fan base demographic, your most popular week, and your photo inventory. If you’re doing any competitive analysis as part of your overall Web analytics report, start tracking your competitor’s available data on Facebook. Tune in to tactics they’re using to earn buzz or chatter. For SEO, weeks with the most buzz around your brand tend to correlate to more links to your site and social shares. As PR teams and SEO experts continue to get their arms around all the potential features and benefits of Facebook Timeline, keep in mind the above opportunities. Bottom line: Not only does creating an attractive, interactive, content-rich page that fans will be more likely to share help you engage and build friends and followers, but also it can help you make the most of Facebook from an SEO perspective. Nick Papagiannis is director of interactive/search for independent marketing and communications firm Cramer-Krasselt. (Image via)

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