Are you using LinkedIn and SlideShare as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing strategy? If not, then I’m sure that after reading the below interview you’ll probably take a closer look at these two social media and content sharing platforms. In December of 2015, Liam Austin, Founder of Small Today and an award-winning entrepreneur, invited me to participate in the four-day online LinkedIn Success Summit, which featured more than 35 of today’s leading LinkedIn influencers, authors, proven entrepreneurs and industry experts from around the globe. These experts shared and discussed insights on many actionable tips, techniques and strategies to help LinkedIn users take advantage of what this social media platform has to offer.
In my session, I discussed how SEO works and how any business should implement a digital marketing strategy that will improve their rankings in search engines. LinkedIn and SlideShare are two tools that simply need to be a big part of a company’s off-page SEO strategy (basically anything that happens outside of your website). Including these platforms in your search marketing strategy will help you increase high-quality referral traffic, overall website visits and it will also help build your brand which ultimately leads to more customers.
Here are some of the things you’ll learn from our discussion:
- How and why keywords are such a vital part of how SEO works
- Tips on how to decide which keywords to use and ways to implement keywords in your content strategy
- How and why you should create company LinkedIn pages, LinkedIn Showcase pages and SlideShare pages
- The importance of providing regular posts with links and call to actions, and building followers
- Why LinkedIn and SlideShare are so important for SEO
I can’t overemphasize the importance of adding LinkedIn and SlideShare to your arsenal of SEO tools. The interview below will provide you with a great overview and I also invite you to learn about our two-day SEO certification training where we cover these, and many other, tools and strategies in much more detail.
Interview and Transcription: How to Improve your Rank on Google using LinkedIn and SlideShare
This transcription is from an interview called, “How to Improve your Rank on Google using LinkedIn and SlideShare,” during the LinkedIn Success Summit held on December 7-11, 2015 between Liam Austin and me.
Liam Austin is the founder of Small Today. He’s an award-winning entrepreneur featured in numerous publications such as BRW and The Australian.
I’m the founder of Boulder SEO Marketing and a digital marketing expert. I frequently teach workshops and write about how to use LinkedIn for search engine optimization, lead generation and branding.
Liam’s questions are italicized and my responses are in regular font type.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
On one side, we have demand because people are searching for stuff. On the other side, we have supply. In the middle, we have “databases” such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn that host content. For example, somebody may go to Google to search for “SEO agency Boulder,” which is one of my target keyword phrases, so I want to show up right on top. People also go to LinkedIn – it’s a search engine. So they potentially type “LinkedIn consultant” into the search box. It’s the same thing – I want to be on top in their search engine.
I can really relate to this – I know when people search for my name, my LinkedIn profile comes up almost at the top of the Google search engine. I’m sure it’s the same for most people out there. It’s really important to be on LinkedIn, to make sure the SEO is correct and to be found for the right words.
Anybody will find you by your name. These databases are smart enough to return the query. But you want to be found for people searching for “LinkedIn consultant”; those are organic search terms. There’s a specific way to optimize not only your website and other digital assets but also your LinkedIn profile, your LinkedIn company page, your LinkedIn Showcase pages and SlideShare (which is now part of LinkedIn). That’s really what I’ve become an expert in. There are very few people who know how to do it and I’d be happy to share some tips in this interview today.
Before we get into the real practical steps in how we can implement this into LinkedIn, what made you initially think about using this tool for SEO?
I tested it. Everybody has a website now and it’s fairly easy if you know what you’re doing to optimize your website. Fortunately for me, a lot of businesses still don’t know how to do it. That’s why I’m doing fairly well in terms of organic search engine optimization consulting. But I’m also looking for other ways to get more page #1 listings on Google.
Here’s an example: Do a search for “SEO agency Boulder.” You should see my website first but then second, third or fourth down, you should see a LinkedIn company profile for Boulder SEO Marketing.
Yes, fifth one down.
Google will return different search results depending on where you are. In Boulder, I think my website is #1 and my LinkedIn profile is #2 or #3, so I’m taking valuable spots away from my competition. Seventy-five percent of all the clicks go to the top three or four search results. If I can make this happen and take valuable online real estate away from my competitors, it’s a no-brainer and it’s actually not that hard.
Interesting. So the whole idea is to be found above others and competitors in the search engine-specific keywords, and those keywords are what people are looking for when they’re looking to engage a company or someone like yourself to do business with. The point is to generate more leads and be found by potential customers.
Absolutely – it’s that simple. Think about the old days: the better placement and the more billboards companies have, the more presence they have to catch somebody’s eye. Today it’s the same thing with Google search. You’ve got to be on the first page but it’s better to have two or three listings. That’s why I use LinkedIn and SlideShare for that purpose.
Let me give you another example. I host a lot of SEO classes in the Denver market. If you do a search for “SEO training Denver,” you should see a SlideShare listing for my company SlideShare account. Can you see that three or four listings down the page?
Yes, the third one down is SlideShare.
I can’t tell you how much money I make with this. I know there’s about 120 people a month searching for “SEO training Denver” and related keywords. It’s not that hard – you just need to know how to do it.
I want to dig deeper into this. “SEO agency Boulder” was the first search we did on Google. I see your website is #1 and I know LinkedIn shows up as #3, #4 or #5 depending on what market you’re searching in. For me, it’s positioned as #5 for your LinkedIn company page and #6 is your personal LinkedIn profile. So can you tell us how we identify what keywords we should be targeting?
Great question. Keyword research is basically the first thing I do with somebody when I take them on as a client. I ask them what the three most important keywords are. Liam, what’s your most important keyword? What do you want to be found for online?
For the LinkedIn Success Summit, we’re targeting people who are small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to generate more leads, sales and profit, specifically for LinkedIn. So “LinkedIn lead generation” might be a good keyword.
There are several tools out there. I usually start with Google Keyword Planner which is part of the Google pay-per-click part of Google AdWords. You have to call in a credit card but you’re not going to be charged to use the tool. I sit down with my clients and plug in keywords, and then you get hundreds or thousands of keyword recommendations from Google with the number of searches a month and the competition level. So you create a list of oftentimes five, eight or ten thousand keywords and then you go through this list to find the top 25, 30 or 50 keywords that you think, if we can optimize our website and other digital assets such as a LinkedIn Showcase page or a LinkedIn company page, that through Google, you’re going to be found on page #1 and you’re going to get those clicks that you need to make money.
You’ve mentioned thousands of keywords and “Boulder SEO agency” is the one we used. Is that your main keyword and if so, how did you decide which would be your main keyword?
I started out as a local SEO agency but my business model has changed. I’ve starting doing a lot of international SEO because I have a background in localization, translation and SEO, but at the time, I started out as a local business wanting to be found in Boulder. For my business, I went to Google Keyword Planner and looked at what my potential prospects were searching by for something I had to offer, and I also added the geolocator of Boulder. The top searches were “SEO agency,” “SEO agencies,” and “top SEO companies.” There were enough searches with these terms that it was clear to me to optimize for these keywords.
My market here in Boulder was a little bit smaller but it’s a very tech-driven area. It’s actually called the Silicon Valley of Colorado so there’s a ton of business here and I’ve done really well with my local search terms. Ever since I expanded into international search terms, I have a lot of international clients.
So for the average business owner, a lot of them are going to be online but a lot of them are also going to be local, so what would you recommend in terms of the Keyword Planner? If they’re seeing thousands of results pop up, what’s the combination to identify what those top three keywords should be?
When people come to my SEO workshops, I ask them to show me their list of keywords, and unfortunately, very often, they are targeting the wrong keywords. They go for the big keywords that have thousands of searches that are highly competitive, so it’s going to be very hard to get to the #1 spot. It really has to be a nice mix of thirds: 33% of top, big keywords (the wishful thinking keywords, as in, I want to be #1 for that keyword in a year); 33% of medium keywords that are competitive but you have a good chance to get there; and then the lower 33% which is the long tail keywords of two or three keywords strung together. These long tail keywords may have fewer searches but those people know exactly what they’re looking for, and if you can show up in the top three search results, then you have a good chance that you’re going to get a click and potentially a new lead from this keyword. So don’t go just for the big ones or the small ones: it has to be a nice mix as with everything in life.
So we’ve chosen our top three keywords; what do we do next?
Now you have to get to work. First of all, implement the keywords throughout your website – that’s probably your most important digital asset. Every web page has a title, a description and a keyword tag; you have to update these meta tags with keywords. Google doesn’t look at the keyword tag right now but Bing and Yahoo still do, so you have to optimize for the keyword tag too.
Then you have to optimize the content with the right keywords. Optimize for the top two or three keywords per page. Don’t stuff keywords in there – it doesn’t work. It has to be high-quality content.
You may want to hyperlink some of your target SEO keywords to another related page. Make it as easy as possible for Google to make the connection with those keywords with stuff that you have to offer and that you’re an authority in. There so many pages out there and you have to make it easy for Google to find the way to us. It all starts with keywords.
Let’s say you have your website optimized and you include a link to your LinkedIn company page. You also have to have an optimized LinkedIn company page. For me, I know it’s working and we do that for our clients right away.
How do you know the LinkedIn company page is working?
You saw the results for “SEO agency Boulder” – my LinkedIn company page shows up on page #1 before many of my other competitors. And there are a lot of SEO companies here in Boulder – there’s more than ten. I tested a few things and I saw that it’s working. It doesn’t work for every vertical or every market, but that’s the thing with SEO – you just have to test it. If you see that something’s working, capitalize on it.
Let’s say I have my keywords but I haven’t created a LinkedIn company page yet. What do I need to do?
LinkedIn walks you through the process of creating a LinkedIn company page. The first thing to do is to create your company description, which is the first two lines or the first 160 characters, using your target SEO keywords. Ideally, you can put it into a nice sentence, such as “We are a LinkedIn lead generation company focusing on LinkedIn webinars (if that’s a keyword for you).” I also like to do it using vertical pipes (i.e., |) to separate your keywords.
You have to do a lot of testing until you find the best solution. Go to Google, type in your keyword and see how Google displays your listing. And then of course, use your keywords throughout the content on your LinkedIn company page. Also, fill out the specialties field. Whenever you have the opportunity to plug in one of your keywords, do it, but do it as naturally as possible. You also have to have a link back to your LinkedIn company page from your website to give it “link-juice.” If you do that, you’ll be on the right path, but there’s a lot more to it.
I’ve created my LinkedIn company page. How important are the number of followers that follow my page?
Very important. Google strikes deals with social media platforms like Twitter where they actually announce that they’re now going to display trending tweets in search results pages. LinkedIn has been a Google darling for a long time. These companies are so close in Silicon Valley. These employees go from Google to LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook. They all know each other. So what I see is LinkedIn is a Google darling. I don’t want to make any accusations but LinkedIn has become a content marketing platform and Google loves content. Content is SEO; therefore, LinkedIn is the perfect platform for SEO.
I agree – they’re all talking to each other and forming partnerships and they’re making sure they’re helping each other out. When someone arrives on my company page, what do we do once we’ve gotten them there?
Unfortunately what I see a lot of is people create amazing content and I get to the end and they leave me hanging. There’s no call to action. Nothing. Same thing with LinkedIn company pages although the hyperlinks aren’t going to be active. I’d recommend that you put a couple of call to actions either at the top, middle or end. For example, “We can help our clients increase their organic search engine traffic by 300%. ” I can back that up. Another example is, “If you’re interested in growing your online presence, go to this link or request information, contact me this way or call me.”
Make it as enticing as possible. This is your little piece of content to shine and give them the option to get in touch with you. I see so many LinkedIn company pages with a little bit of content and it’s OK but they could actually use this to get sales.
Absolutely. You have to be smart and tactical on your company page. If you’re driving people to it, think about what action you want them to take. Don’t leave people hanging. Give them the next step and make it easy for them.
You’ve got some LinkedIn Showcase pages on your LinkedIn company page. Can you talk us through how that works?
Absolutely. You probably remember a little over a year ago, LinkedIn shockingly removed the services and products pages. It was like a company page – you could promote services and products. I used to optimize a lot of services and product pages for clients, and all of a sudden, they were gone. LinkedIn replaced them with “Showcase pages.” You have about 200 characters to describe what you want to Showcase on that page.
Here’s the most important thing: name your page with one of your target SEO keywords. Once you do it, that Showcase page is off the table. It’s not directly related to your LinkedIn company page. It doesn’t say like, “LinkedIn > company > Boulder SEO marketing > and then the name that I used for that Showcase page.” It’s like a URL – if I could grab money.com, it’s exactly like that. Once I grab a Showcase page with a very interesting URL, it’s off the table for anyone else. Direct match URLs are still important for SEO. As you can see, I claimed “Search Engine Optimization Training.” I plugged in my keywords in the description and I linked it back to my services page on my website. That’s a quick overview.
You mentioned call to actions and you link back to your website and you keep referring to how important it is to keep it updated. Why is it important to link people back to your website or give them a call to action?
A good analogy is let’s say I have a party at my house and I live up in the mountains. On the way, you’re going to see balloons and then a sign saying “Johnny’s birthday, this way.” So it’s like you’re seeing signals that will lead me to your house. That’s like a website. Eventually I’m converting most of the people on my website. LinkedIn Company pages and LinkedIn Showcase pages are the signals that are pointing in that direction and I’m telling Google, “Hey, the party’s happening right there – it’s at Boulder SEO Marketing. Follow me there.” That’s where I convert most of my people – they fill out a form, they call me, etc.
Back to LinkedIn and Showcase pages, I see that you’re providing updates. How important is that for SEO?
LinkedIn companies have their own set of followers. The more followers, the better. Ideally they should engage with your posts. They should like, share or do something with the content you put out there. It’s the same thing with your LinkedIn Showcase pages. They have their own set of followers and of course, the more engagement you get for the product or service that you’re promoting through that Showcase page, Google will notice that and they may even show a Showcase page on page #1 if you do a really good job. You have to put out content and you have to do status updates. I know it’s a lot of work, believe me, but it’s worth the effort.
Even if you don’t have any followers, and I just started my LinkedIn company page, should I be doing these updates?
Yes, because eventually you’re going to get followers and they will like, share or repost something you posted. It’s going to take a little bit of time but the more legit followers you have, the better you will do in terms of SEO.
I want to talk about SlideShare which was acquired by Google in 2012. How can that help with SEO and LinkedIn?
In the old days, SlideShare was one of the apps that you could connect into your LinkedIn profile so that’s how I found it. I thought it was a cool platform to share content like PowerPoints, MS Word documents, etc. I’ve always done webinars my whole professional life. I thought it was a great place to put my PowerPoints and then link to it on my page so you can download them.
Shortly after LinkedIn acquired SlideShare, I saw that many of my slides would come up in organic searches and drive traffic back to my website. I checked my Google analytics and I’d see that I got 200 visits from referral traffic from SlideShare. That’s when it clicked. I thought, if I could put a little bit of effort into optimizing my SlideShare entities, I’m sure I could do way better than the referral traffic that I’m getting. I spent hours researching it and figured it out.
As you can see from that “SEO training Denver” Google search example, the search giant is listing one of my MS Word documents that I put up on SlideShare to announce the class. I went into my LinkedIn SlideShare statistics and I saw that this page had 400, 500, 600 views. So when I host a new event, I upload a new version. I know Google likes it and I can refresh the content on SlideShare by uploading a new document that promotes my next class. Right now, it shows the class I did in October but you can be certain I’m updating that document to promote my next training.
Just so I understand this correctly, you’ve created one SlideShare page for your event and every time you do this event, you update the document, you don’t create a new SlideShare page, correct?
Yes, that’s exactly it. You go into the back-end of SlideShare and you re-upload it. Nobody knows this. It’s a key takeaway for people. If you’ve been in product development, you know many of your products are going to fail until you have a winner. Same thing with SlideShare. You upload high-quality content with SlideShare and then see if people are finding it organically or other websites are linking back to it. If you see that one of your slides is getting a lot of views, you probably have a winner. Then you have to create a new document and upload it for your next event. You can optimize it like a webpage on the back-end once you go back into SlideShare. It’s very similar to how you optimize the metatags for a webpage on a website.
You made me think about the number of pages created. I think you had six Showcase pages. Should people be limiting the number of Showcase pages they create?
Right now I think you can have eight maximum unless you’re a big brand like Coke or United Airlines. You can actually contact LinkedIn through their help center and you can request more. But for companies like us, probably eight is fine.
Should you limit it? Yes, only do what you can handle with the highest possible quality. I’m even struggling to get content out to six Showcase pages because you should put out status updates to interest your followers at least a couple of times per week. So absolutely limit it to what you can handle.
Back to SlideShare – how many presentations should I have on SlideShare?
I do a lot of webinars so I put all of my slides on SlideShare and then I link them back to my website where I say “Click to download the slides.” This way I’m driving traffic back to SlideShare and it tells Google that these pages are getting hits so Google may rank it higher. It’s like a circle that I’m creating. Maybe that slide will come up in a Google search on its own.
The more links you get to SlideShare or a URL or a page, whether it’s on LinkedIn or somewhere else, the more shares its getting on social media, the more it’s talked about, the more value it feeds into Google’s equation, so I’m seeing the value in creating lots of pages for the long tails to reach as many keywords as possible. At the same time, where am I ranking in those pages? What’s better – being on the 4th or 5th page for 100 keywords or being in the top five results for three or four keywords?
I can see your point in reloading the events through SlideShare. I can see you build a lot of value because people can link to that over time. Obviously you have a lot of traction every time you put out this event so I can see why you’re doing that and as you said, it’s a key takeaway that not many people know about.
I know with the group that I own and with the way it’s grown organically, and with a little bit of work, it really is keywords and SEO. What other parts of LinkedIn can we be focusing on for SEO?
First of all, you need to have a complete, high-quality personal profile. That’s the essence of LinkedIn. I consult with bigger companies, a lot of executives and also their sales teams, and I help them with their LinkedIn profiles. And again, shockingly, a lot of sales people I talk to say, “I’m on LinkedIn but it’s not working.” It’s a problem. LinkedIn is working but they don’t get it. Oftentimes when I look at these LinkedIn profiles, they lack the most basic things such as a nice, professional looking picture, the personalized URL, the keywords throughout the LinkedIn profile, and they’re not linked to the company page or have multimedia embedded. Nowadays companies have high-quality YouTube videos and you can embed those in your LinkedIn profile. It drives me crazy. I say, come to one of my trainings and I’ll show you how to do it. People are not taking advantage of LinkedIn. So it starts with a highly-optimized, high-quality profile.
LinkedIn is changing so rapidly all the time and I’m learning a lot. I’m sure people come back to your trainings because things are always changing and there are updates. Maybe it’s a little overwhelming. Can you share some advice on if you don’t have all the time in the world to do all these things, what are some of the things you should be focusing on – what are some quick wins?
One of the first slides in my training is you need to have a plan. People don’t plan. They’re super excited about online marketing, digital marketing, SEO and LinkedIn, but then they just throw darts in the dark. They don’t have a plan. I recommend you make a schedule for the next three to six months and actually write it out on a whiteboard or online. So say this week I’m going to create and optimize my LinkedIn profile. The next week, I’m going to create and optimize a company page. The following week I’m going to claim and optimize two Showcase pages. Plan ahead. Maybe every week you can spare two or three hours. Book it on your calendar and do it.
You’ve learned all these things by going out there and testing things and finding out what’s working and what’s not. Planning is huge for people to make sure that you are doing it for a purpose and it’s going to help you get results if you put a proper plan and strategy in place. What are some of the mistakes that people should be looking to avoid?
Taking too much on. That’s probably the biggest mistake. To me, this digital stuff comes naturally. Other people, other things come naturally. So when they get into this digital marketing effort, they try to take on too much, too fast. They get overwhelmed and fail. Start small and scalable. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing some of this work. That is why people like you and I are in business. We help people and share our knowledge. You’re going to go to a doctor if you have a broken arm, you’re not going to fix it yourself. We seek help from professionals that know more than we do. Seek help.
You don’t know everything. You need to be constantly learning, whatever it is, especially when it comes to a platform like LinkedIn or Twitter or whatever. It’s constantly changing. You were talking about LinkedIn Showcase pages and how before, LinkedIn used to have the products and services that you could showcase there but now they’re gone. Some of these things could be taken away from you that were working so I’m glad you talked about taking people away from LinkedIn to your website and having a call to action – submitting an email address or whatever that might be. That’s really an important step to remember. Before we wrap up, are there any final tips or advice you could provide?
Have fun with it. You have to be authentic. I know there’s people out there who buy LinkedIn followers, Twitter followers, etc. That’s not the way to do it. Whatever you do has to be the high-quality, authentic you. Don’t do anything you don’t have a really good feeling about. That’s tip #1. Time is everything we have, right? If I’m spending time doing something, I better enjoy it. I have to be excited about it.
Take it offline. I have a lot of people that follow me on LinkedIn and I have a lot of connections. I connect with a lot of people. Whenever I have a chance, I try to meet those people in person. We can hide behind these social media platforms and the way sometimes people behave on social media is unbelievable. It’s like this wall that we’re hiding behind. Behave on social media, behave like you and I are now talking thousands of miles apart. That’s the way we should treat each other – with respect.
And don’t try to just sell, sell, sell. First you have to give and then you can ask for something in return.
Hopefully everyone’s learned a lot. How do people connect with you?
Additional Digital Marketing Resources
If you’re ready this then you probably actually took the time to read the entire interview. Thanks! I’m a guest-author for Social Media Examiner, the world’s largest social media marketing resource site, and I regularly write about LinkedIn. Here’s the link to additional articles on how to take advantage of LinkedIn and SlideShare.