December 2, 2013: Earlier this year, we highlighted LinkedIn’s significance on B2B internet marketing initiatives. However, as I discussed in a recent column on Search Engine Land, LinkedIn has historically been overlooked by SEOs in favor of other social media platforms, primarily due to the fact that links in profiles and discussions aren’t really “SEO friendly” (links incorporate a “nofollow” attribute).
But as Google refines and rebuilds its search engine algorithm, relationships become a more important factor in building the links that develop relevance for keyword results. As a result, B2B marketers need to reassess how their organizations’ LinkedIn strategies can benefit SEO.
Here are 7 LinkedIn marketing tactics that can be beneficial to B2B SEO initiatives:
Status Updates: Profile and Company
Status updates create greater visibility for content marketing assets produced. The SEO Takeaway is that the improved visibility should drive greater awareness and lead to referral traffic through inbound links and social media sharing. At the least, regular, productive updates should provide an indirect method for B2B marketers to stay in contact with their LinkedIn network and followers of the organization.
A Few Recommendations for Improved Effectiveness:
- Build out a complete and comprehensive profile and/or company page to build credibility and improve click thru rates when making status updates.
- Incorporate images in the content marketing assets created, which provides an additional visual when sharing the content in LinkedIn updates.
- Add a personalized but concise introduction/description to your update, in addition to the heading, description, and image that will appear automatically.
LinkedIn Share Buttons
Share buttons provide a simple way for LinkedIn users to distribute content marketing assets through their network. The SEO Takeaway is this: The broader a B2B SEO can extend the reach of their content, the more likely they will acquire links from target audiences. While it is debatable how much social media share volume impacts SEO performance, a higher visible number of LinkedIn shares may catch the reader’s eye.
LinkedIn provides a range of options for integrating share functionality within a B2B website. While the simplest publisher option is the traditional share button, B2B marketers can also integrate LinkedIn sign-in authentication or more a customized experience based on the LinkedIn Share API.
Integrate Profile Links
Earlier this year, LinkedIn replaced “Applications” like SlideShare with the ability to more easily display samples of your online work right in the various sections of your profile (i.e., profile summary, work experience, etc). As long as you have a link reference (web address), you can support credentials with third-party web references.
Places to Focus and Include Link References:
- Work Experience
- Publications, Projects, and Educational References
The SEO Takeaway is that B2B marketers can bring greater visibility to the third-party content marketing assets they are associated with. LinkedIn Apps support images, video, audio, and most document formats and, while their provider list indicates LinkedIn does not support blogs, they will integrate individual blog posts and articles. Application links are a great way to showcase expertise and credentials via third-party references.
LinkedIn Skills represent a logical method of aligning a profile to strategic keywords and broader areas of expertise. The endorsement from others for these skills provides immediate validation and might also act as a trigger for determining relevance for a particular keyword theme.
The SEO Takeaway is as follows: If more personnel within an organization’s LinkedIn presence are associated with a particular skill or expertise, it might influence broader search relevance in the long run. Regardless, a more complete and highly endorsed set of skills provides greater benefit for the individual LinkedIn profile.
A few specific guidelines and recommendations:
- You have a maximum of 50 skills and expertise to list in your profile.
- Once your skills list exceeds 50, use keyword research tools to trim off the least endorsed options, based on search estimates, popularity, and of course, applicability.
- In my experience, broader topics tend to get organically endorsed by a network more often than more specific skills and expertise (i.e., “SEO” is more likely to get endorsed than “B2B SEO”)
- Instead of directly soliciting endorsements of your skills, focus on endorsing others, which may trigger your profile (and a request of endorsement) to appear at the top of their LinkedIn profile when they view their profile page.
Optimized Service Offerings
Oftentimes, the product and services pages of your website provide a logical destination for primary keyword strategies. Extend the visibility of B2B solutions and keyword targets through LinkedIn products and services pages, a subset of the LinkedIn Company page.
SEO Takeaway: In addition to the deeper cross-link into the organization’s website, B2B marketers should incorporate applicable keyword targets with descriptive product and services copy. Consider adding the following additional information within products and services pages to provide more depth and validation:
- Integrated customer testimonials
- Photos, graphics, and video integration
- Special promotions, marketing campaign alerts, etc.
A couple weeks ago, LinkedIn announced the launch of Showcase Pages, which provide an opportunity for B2B marketers to highlight and curate content associated with specific brands, product lines, or industry focuses.
Showcase pages provide an additional, more specific, line of communication to B2B marketers’ target audiences. B2B marketers can monitor the performance of a Showcase Page through LinkedIn analytics tools and can add campaign snippets or event tracking to cross-links to better monitor referral performance in web analytics tools.
Don’t Forget Your Photo
While uploading a professional photograph is a common LinkedIn recommendation, there are now more far reaching implications in today’s search engine landscape. Google Authorship creates greater opportunity for professionals to appear in search engine results, by way of authored blog and article content.
Be sure to maintain a consistent use of profile photos, in LinkedIn in particular, but also across other social media platforms. You want your network to see a familiar face, in LinkedIn, in social media updates, and throughout organic search engine results for content you have authored.
The SEO Takeaway is that your consistent use of professional photos for social media profiles may organically build your Google+ network associated to Google Authorship, improving the opportunity for searchers to find your content in search engine results.
LinkedIn Groups provide a solid opportunity to get your marketing message out to the most applicable industry peers and colleagues.
The SEO Takeaway is that if you can get your content marketing assets in front of the right audiences, you have a greater chance of obtaining links and social media mentions. However, to be truly effective with LinkedIn groups, B2B SEOs need to offer more than just a quick “link drop” in a discussion thread.
Here are three recommended resources for navigating LinkedIn Groups.
- 7 Ways Marketers Can Benefit from Participating in LinkedIn Groups
- 5 B2B Content Marketing Tips for Boosting Your LinkedIn Group
- How and Why I Use LinkedIn Groups to Build My Business
The key to LinkedIn is to build relationships. These relationships extend beyond LinkedIn and into broader online marketing initiatives, benefiting SEOs through multiple contexts. Since we can be certain LinkedIn will continue updating and enhancing marketing offerings to individuals and organizations, B2B SEOs need to evaluate how these changes enable better relationship development for online marketing efforts.
How else are you using LinkedIn to boost SEO performance? I would love to read your feedback and perspective via comments below.
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