I’m proud of you! You’ve finally buckled down and set up a few social media accounts for your company. You are even using it on a regular basis. I like your posts and how you are incorporating keywords pertaining to your company into your messages.

By now, we all know that social media is a cost-effective way of marketing your company and educating clients. In addition, you get to know your clients better by following their companies. Most people will agree that social media is easy to use and actually increases website traffic if used properly.

Social media should be used as an internet marketing tool in addition to your company website, not as a replacement. So let’s discuss the second step of using social media for website marketing: Social Media Optimization (SMO). SMO is much like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but differs in that its primary function is to drive traffic to your website from sites other than search engines.

Wikipedia describes SMO: “Social Media Optimization is the methodization of social media activity with the intent of attracting unique visitors to website content. SMO is one of two online methods of website optimization; the other method is search engine optimization, or SEO.”

This is a spot-on description of SMO! Basically, SMO consists of backlinks, or hyperlinks back to your website. Backlinks are important parts of the way search engines rank your website. A search engine will consider your website more valuable if your backlinks are established. Of course, this also gives your website more internet publicity.

If you have ever gotten a quote for Search Engine Optimization, you may know that it can be a huge expense. Because the task is time-consuming, many SEO companies are forced to price their services accordingly. There are many rules and regulations for using SEO properly and companies need to be aware of these conventions to do a proper job. At least once a week, I hear someone wishing to be on the first page of Google without using expensive Google AdWords or paying for SEO from a reputable company. SMO may be the answer!

People seem to think that because they do not have many fans or connections in their social media accounts, people will not see their company posts and information. SMO is a great technique for internet marketing, driving more traffic to your website for no cost. Since Google and Facebook are neck and neck in client usage in the U.S., looking to social media sites for website traffic is a great idea. Just because someone isn’t your “connection” on your social media accounts doesn’t mean they won’t see your company posting. A simple Google search for your name will probably show your social networking accounts along with your website. So, the number of connections you have on your accounts is irrelevant. Although it is nice to market to those existing potential clients, you can open your social media marketing to search engines as well.

Unlike some SEO techniques, SMO is not about making changes to your website. When your website has content that can be shared easily (such as PDFs, video and blog posts), submitting them to social media sites will help your content go further, and eventually drive links, then hopefully direct visitors back to your website, which means more clients or sales.

The best part is that SMO is something anyone can do! You do not have to hire an SEO company or invest in Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising like Google Adwords. Set up your Facebook page, create a Twitter account and start thinking about keywords you can use to target promising customers.

One of the techniques to SMO is to use attention-getting, keyword-rich posts. Next time you are on Twitter, pay attention to which posts get noticed and entice you to click. Power words like “free,” “success,” “breakthrough,” “latest,” “proven,” “money,” “low-cost” or “guarantee” garner attention and tempt users to click the accompanied link. This link should be to a page or post on your website or social media.

Let’s not forget video. Have someone set up a regular digital camera and record a conversation with you and another business owner discussing problems or sharing information. Or interview someone about a new product or service. Post this video on YouTube and your website. Let your friend share it also. People are looking for content for their social media accounts and websites. Each link brings you website traffic. Investing a little time and fun in creating simple videos can really help your search engine rankings.

Of course, there is still a great need for SEO companies who know the rules and strategies for getting you on that first page, but if you are looking for a cost-effective way of promoting your website, your social media accounts can help if used properly.

All businesses are looking for a way to promote their companies. In my opinion, SMO is another stop in helping with your marketing campaign. The price is right, so give it a try and see your results. iBi