I recently discovered an article by Lee Odden where he discussed the relationship between search engine optimization and social media. It may be surprising to learn that numerous companies simply do not know how to use search engine optimization and social media towards their advantage, when it can make a significant impact for their company.

The main reason companies invest in social media is to gain competitive advantage through relationship building. Companies that take the time to invest in social media have a big advantage over companies that simply try a variety of different social media outlets, but never invest enough time to make it worthwhile.

There are a variety of benefits for using social media such as to 1. build thought leadership, 2. improve customer relations, 3. improve recruiting, 4. lower customer service costs, 5. improve search engine ranking, 6. increase media coverage and 8. influence sales.

For most companies social media is new territory and they tend to become lost with all the information that is out there. This is mostly the case with younger companies or with an uneducated or inexperienced staff. However, if companies make the investment to learn more about this industry, it can be very useful for them. Most early adopters of social media focus on blogging, social networking, microblogging and video in industries such as Retail Consumer Goods/Services, High Tech, Media/Entertainment, Automotive and Financial.

Understanding how combining SEO best practices with social media content creation/promotion can actually extend social reach via search as well as compliment an existing SEO program is where there is opportunity between SEO and social media. It is important to optimize certain social media content with keywords to help build this relationship. Examples of areas to include keywords are title tags, file names, description, anchor text and annotations.

A crucial point to remember when leveraging social media for link building is to create content worthy of linking to in the first place. The catch with generating notable content is that no one will know you have created that content unless you tell them. Not only is promotion critical in determining who will see or take notice of your content, but developing channels to distribute your content is also another important aspect. RSS feeds work as well as building networks on social media sites such as Facebook, StumpleUpon and YouTube.

The companies who actually make the effort and investment to figure out what social media and search engine optimization strategies will benefit them will have a big advantage over companies that wait. You do not want to be the company that misses such a great opportunity and realizes it when it is almost too late.

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