Ever wonder why your LinkedIn profile ranks (dangerous word) well in Google results for your name? There’s plenty of dialog in the SEM community regarding SEMs exploiting the high organic value of well-constructed social media profiles, especially those developed and nurtured in mainstream communities like Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn and about 50 other consensus-worthy niche sites.

The tactic is time consuming, requires committed writers truly savvy to social media etiquette and can be highly effective. Google rewards active social community members so well constructed social media profile-plays can be organic ranking machines. These techniques represent yet another fascinating intersection of SEO (natural search), social media and PR.

Most often raised in light of reputation defense, the techniques are especially useful when some low or mid-authority malevolent attacks you in the SERPs. It’s difficult for zero-authority nobody bloggers to compete with a robust Twitter or StumbleUpon profile. That said building social media profiles is also a very strong offensive tactic, again both for the white-hat SEM’s and nefarious provocateurs.

“Developing profiles to gain organic prominence essentially consists of an avatar’s spirited, holistic and authentic participation.”

It’s ground that Google just gives us to take for free. “Participation” simply means making friends centered on mutually recommended users, content which is complimentary and doesn’t compete with your product. Because these profiles can rank so effectively and given the contentious nature of even mid-tail SERPs, building out thoughtful profiles is an opportunity that should not be missed in many cases.

Profiles on Literal Keywords
Choosing the most productive name for your avatar (persona blogger) is critical because the interior linking power of community builds organic authority within that site to your profile’s name. This partially explains why rank & file social media profiles often rank well even in moderately contested SERPs. The more friends you make in each community, the more interior link structure come to bear on your profile’s name. Combine this with a program of external link-building to the profile from pages with decent PageRank and you’ve got a potent natural search mix.

Clearly setting a profile’s goal to attain organic prominence using one’s actual name, company name or other identifiable brand information is the easiest and most traversed route. Profiles can be sweet brand-name SEO ranking tools if wielded properly. It can also be a dangerous approach unless you really know what you’re doing. Things become more of a branding/marketing challenge (and more exciting) when a social media site profile name targets mid-tail commercial keywords with cloaked commercial intent.

Coming to that specific avatar-intent and executing the tactic succinctly is the stuff of serious grass roots marketers.

“Internet social media means the grass is dry, the wind hot and the whole gigantic field SO susceptible to the spark.”

There needs to be thoughtful justification for using any commercial keyword-avatar name and the strategy thereof must transcend the overt selling process. Most social communities don’t take kindly to in-your-face commercial activity. Determining the Tao of a profile’s name in relation to the marketing objective at hand is right about the time you call your friendly search focused advertising agency for support. 🙂 Though the upside at hand is palpable, mishandling the reputation of your business’ social media “ambassador” can backfire and cause a good deal of trouble.

Building out social media profiles in mainstream and niche’ communities can be a powerful tool for gaining organic prominence. The tactic illustrates yet another instance of SMO and SEO merged. Proceed thoughtfully and get professional guidance to avoid disasters, if you’re not totally in your comfort zone. On the other hand don’t be afraid to set out yourself. Most bloggers who wind up great learn how to behave without ever hiring a coach. There is less of a learning curve when you engage pros.

Organic ranking opportunities available by focusing the natural search power of social communities is such an outstanding freebie from Google, it should be capitalized in many case studies. Even if the result is not purely commercial, any organic SERPs we influence with content we control especially in a viral setting, becomes screen real estate that we can somehow exploit at the same time even as we push other organic results down the page (which is always good).

  • REBlogGirl

    I love the idea of using profiles to build value for your person or company. As for rep mgt, it makes tons of sense. But like anything else- the early adopters of this strategy will take the most advantage.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @REBlogGirl: “early adopters of this strategy will take the most advantage.” They already have 🙂 It’s nice to see you in this thread.

  • RobertL

    This is very interesting. Hadn’t been aware of this particular aspect of the SEO discipline.

  • Marc

    Indeed you may generate links from various social sites, but links from a strong profile deliver benefits in various ways. And naturally, links from a spammy looking profile will damage your sites brand and credibility in the eyes of users and eventually the search engines whenever the algo catches on.
    So its good to always be branding, if your content is legit. But dont screw up your credibility by creating profiles just for the links. Social media is way more valueable than that.

  • Search Engine Optimization Journal

    People must utilize well ranking sites like LinkedIn and use them to their advantage. Free self promotion that ranks high – not bad!

  • Allan

    So if I have a lbog should I make a profile for it on all of these sites?

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Allan No…spend time hanging around in communities you (or your avatar) would enjoy frequenting. Participate unselfishly and ask yourself: “can my avatar provide true value to the members of this community?”

    Choose 1 or 2 communities and immerse yourself in building your profile in it/them. Learn how each community’s profile indexes organically. Keep in mind not to get sucked into personalized search.

    SEOmoz has SEO Tools that categorize various social site and their values for different endeavors. I recommend you subscribe and familiarize yourself with the list of social communities.

    Thanks for stopping by and glad to meet you.