Dear Mom: a quick lesson in search engine optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? // by Sarah Zero, Wellstruck

My mom called me this morning to ask what else she could do to help us celebrate the launch of Wellstruck (love you, mom!). That got me thinking about what really does work to help spread the word: SEO and social media (and its tricky algorithms).

I started writing an email to her about how search engine optimization (SEO) and social media algorithms work, but then I thought it might be useful to share it more publicly. My hope is that knowing the tech behind it will help in understanding why sharing, commenting, and linking really is a valuable way to show a business your support.


Dear Mom,

Any business can talk 'til they're blue in the face about themselves. They can post all day on their blog, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. But that doesn't mean whatever they're saying qualifies as interesting. So, in terms of algorithms, posting about yourself as a business isn't recognized as something that's worth prioritizing in other people's feeds. The algorithm just reads that as a business tooting its own horn.

What really counts is when *other* people are talking about the business. The more that other people find it interesting, the more likely Google, Facebook, and Instagram algorithms are going to prioritize that business and its content in search results and people's feeds.

So how do algorithms know what people find interesting? Basically, it boils down to how much other people take action in sharing a business online. Below are some specific examples.

What is SEO? How do social media algorithms work? // by Sarah Zero, Wellstruck


Google

In terms of Google, its algorithm takes note of how much other people are linking back to my business' website. That's why blogging is so important for SEO — in a blog, I am creating content in hopes that people find it interesting and helpful enough that they feel compelled to share it via their own social media. Thus, linking back to my site. Google factors that into how it ranks its search results.

So, for example, if hundreds of people happen to share this post all over the internet during the next month (a girl can dream, right!), the next time someone Googles "search engine optimization," this post will show up a little higher in the search results. And hey, that might help me land a new client.
 

Facebook

On Facebook, the three biggest ways you can draw attention to my business are:

  1. Create your own post that tags my business and links to content from my website, which shows that you are interested enough to take the time to create something new to tell your friends about.
  2. Share an existing post, which shows that you think it's relevant enough that you want your friends to see it.
  3. Comment on an existing post, which takes a little more effort than clicking 'like.' Of course, liking is great, too, but it takes minimal effort so it's not prioritized as highly by the algorithm.
     

Instagram

On Instagram, a comment is more 'valuable' than a like. A comment with four or more words is even better. It shows you're saying something with a little more substance.

What makes platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram valuable to you is that they provide you with content you'll find interesting. They identify what you'll want to see by keeping track of how much other people are talking about it. (And then of course, many platforms keep track of who you're friends with and whose posts you are likely to be interested in, but that's a letter for another time!).

So, if you really want to help me promote the launch of Wellstruck because you find it interesting and useful, you can create your own post on Facebook (since I know it's your favorite platform) that links to a blog post or a page on my website that you find interesting. When you go to write your post, you can paste in the link, and Facebook will automatically generate a preview image of the content. Before you click "post," write something that explains why YOU find it interesting — and then people will be more likely to click and check it out for themselves. Bonus points if you ask other people to "share this if you find it interesting, too!" The call to action is key!

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions :)

Love,
Sarah

Sarah Zero & Mom // Wellstruck

Sarah Zero

Heart & Dash, 403 Radcliffe Dr, Newark, DE, 19711, United States