In the latest instalment of our ‘Ask an SEO’ feature, I caught up with Yousaf Sekander from RocketMill, founder of the excellent Social Crawlytics tool. I asked Yousaf to share some insight on integrating SEO and social media campaigns.
Q) Hi Yousaf, thanks for talking to us. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role?
A) I lead the technology team at RocketMill.
We are a team of technologists & marketers who are passionate about getting our clients the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to their digital marketing spend.
Our company is squarely focussed on serving the needs of small and medium businesses. We love working with owner managed businesses but quite often through word of mouth we get approached by big brands to help them with technical audits, conversion optimisation, SEO & PPC – we love a challenge so we take them on and deliver!
Q) How did you get into the world of SEO?
A) I used to be an ActionScript/Flash developer and as the years went on I realised how restrictive Flash was when it came to search engines. I created HTML scaffolds for Flash applications and that is how I got into the world of SEO.
Q) Could you tell us a little bit about Social Crawlytics? Where did the idea come from?
A) Social Crawlytics is a free service that allows you to identify your competitors most shared content. It has several other useful features i.e. author rank that can provide you with actionable metrics.
The project started as a small weekend project and quickly became a widely used service. Today Social Crawlytics has over 13000 users the vast majority of which are digital marketers, agencies and in-house teams for some big brands.
Q) In a recent interview you were quoted as saying: “All my SEO campaigns have been social media centric.” Could you possibly elaborate on what exactly a social media centric SEO campaign looks like?
A) Interesting question!
Most SEO campaigns chase the algorithm or are completely focussed on link building, in a crude way. In simple terms, sites don’t link to sites, people do. Therefore, you need to focus on relationships and out of that will come valuable and high quality links and brand exposure.
Take Social Crawlytics as an example; I haven’t built a single link to it as far as traditional link building is concerned. I simply cultivated relationships with the right people and out of that came high quality links and exposure. Obviously, there is a prerequisite for this type of approach, the prerequisite being insightful content or offering something that adds value.
In short, a social media centric campaign focuses on three things:
Q) Social media and SEO success often requires viral content that is humorous or controversial in nature. How do you go about implementing this in a sensitive vertical? Let’s say, for example, funeral planning…
A) You can find an angle for anything, there are countless examples of things out there, you just need to think creatively and connect the dots. How about the following ideas for funeral planning:
- Who could afford to build Giza pyramid today?
- Funniest tweets about Margret Thatcher’s funeral
- How would Kim Jong-un plan his burial?
Q) Is it fair to say that some verticals simply don’t lend themselves to social media? Or do you believe that every business can have some sort of presence?
A) It really depends what your definition of social media is. If it’s about relationship building then you can make it work for any vertical, almost.
Q) Can you give an example of a really successful social media campaign you have worked on and how you made it work?
A) I can give many examples but the one I like the most is an infographic we did on Microsoft Office 365.
We launched the infographic the same day that Microsoft officially launched Office 365 and we were getting angry phone calls from Microsoft’s PR firm because our client was gaining more exposure than them – we had planned the campaign to work around their press embargo.
Q) Are there any particular brands that you admire or aspire to in terms of SEO & social?
A) Amazon’s technical SEO implementation is probably one of the best. Good technical SEO puts usability & user experience first and I think Amazon is doing a great job on that front.
In terms of social media, I have to give it to Compare The Market.
Q) RocketMill has recently undergone a rebranding exercise, are there any social media or SEO lessons that you learned from this exercise that you can share with us?
A) Planning is the key, particularly if your rebrand involves moving to a new domain. Most sites suffer huge damages because of a lack of proper planning when it comes to SEO migration, I have seen some pretty nasty stuff out there in the wild.
We use WordPress and before the rebrand I built http://www.rocketmill.co.uk/seo-crawlytics which is a handy tool that can help you identify issues with SEO migration.
Q) Besides Twitter and Facebook are there any other social media channels that you recommend for SEO?
A) I don’t recommend any channels universally. Choice and usefulness of channels depend on your product and service and more importantly your target audience.
Q) Lastly, what SEO tools do you recommend?
• Screaming Frog
• Majestic SEO
• Lynx Browser
• New Relic