Facebook SEO Part 1: Groups

Thursday, 05 March 2009

There are lots of things you can do, create and interact with on Facebook, each of which also has a number of its own internal elements. Each piece of Facebook functionality can be used in harmony to create a full-scale Facebook promotion effort that utilizes the entire network and the strengths of each tool for maximum reach. Sound like a lot of work? Doesn’t have to be.

You already know all of the tools I’m talking about: Pages, Groups and Events are the three heavy hitters. Literally, anyone can set one up; it’s the setting up well and maintaining that become stumbling blocks.

Much like my Privacy Settings Guide, I’ve created a three part series on Facebook promotions using SEO techniques. This step-by-step guide takes you through setting up a Facebook Group, Event and Page that will not only rank well within Facebook, but also attract people to join and stand out from the clutter.

Starting small and working to the more difficult Facebook tricks, here’s how to set up a Facebook Group that will rise above the rest:

Facebook Group SEO

Groups are preferred by the lazy because they are quick and easy to slap together and you can invite people. This means you don’t have to do much promotion or invest in good content to gain popularity; you just click “invite.”

Group Name

Make it descriptive or intriguing. Also, don’t sound too screamy. “A group for people who love candy!!!” is not that inviting. “Candy Lovers’ Association of Facebook” is. Straightforward and to the point. “Sweet, sugary obsession” could also be an intriguing name and entice people to open the invite, but it is less search friendly as it lacks the term “candy.”

You can make up for this later, so it’s up to you which route you’d like to take. Whichever way you go, use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling; also, be consistent with capitalization.

Network

This should be a no-brainer. Global (Available to all of Facebook). The name says it all. You want people to join, right? That means you need to be found. Because while you can invite people, you can’t invite too many at a time or your account will be frozen, which is a huge hassle to undo and not the road you want to be going down when you’re trying to promote something new. So use some optimization sense and keep your group wide open.

Description

Here you can make up for an overly creative, underly optimized Group Name. Fill this section with descriptive details, using lots of keywords and synonyms. There’s no HTML allowed, at least not yet, so while you can add links, they won’t be pretty.  You also can’t do much in the way of formatting, so be sure to space things out and follow the less is more approach. Groups really don’t need much explanation, so this is just a way to improve your “Facebook search” rankings.

Staying with the candy example, I’d say something like:

Finally, a group for people you love candy! Whether you’re addicted to chocolate or vanilla, cream or caramel,  this is the group for you.

This group is open to anyone and everyone who likes sour candy, sweet candy, chewy candy, gummy candy…whatever. We’ll discuss candy brands, flavors and candy store locations across the U.S.

Join today and post your favorite candy bar or sweet treat name and nearest city to start receiving recommendations from other candy fanatics.

Category

An annoyingly required field, Facebook makes you classify your group. Twice. This is used to help people browsing for groups to join, so take a minute and pretend you’re stumbling through Facebook. Where’s the best place for someone to find your Group? As in, what are some “key terms” most members have in common? That’s the category and type of Group you are.

Play around with the options; there are lots of different choices, including “random” and “pointless.” For our candy Group, I’d likely go with “Common Interest, Food and Drink,” but it could also be included in some of the “Just for Fun” or “Organization” categories.

Office

Meant as a spot for your actual office location or address, this field is not required and not subject to Facebook restrictions, so you can put a link here to the larger organization’s website or throw in another keyword or two.

The candy Group could have its office in CandyLand, Candy Paradise, or CandyAddicts.com if they had a site. If you use the website, make sure you enter it as http://website.com in order to make it clickable.

Email

Easy. This is where you want (or don’t want) people to contact you. Depending on the type of group and how transparent you want to be, you may or may not want to post an email here. But even if you don’t they’ll find you somehow. I suggest setting up a dedicated Facebook Group email address, like facebook@CandyAddicts.com or facebookcandyaddicts@gmail.com.

Street

Again, if you don’t have an actual offline location you can make this up using keywords, leave it blank or say “the Internet.” Personally, I think it’s more fun if you say something like 123 Lollipop Lane and really get into the spirit of the group. Also, notice another keyword?

City/Town

Facebook will try to fill this in for you once you start typing, so choose wisely. You can leave it blank, but you may get some local benefit from choosing the largest city nearest to you. So while it may be a global Group, I could place my Candy Group in Boston. However, this can discourage national or global users from joining, so if you don’t have much of a local slant, I’d leave it blank.

Done! At least with the SEO portion. Now, on to making it look pretty and working on conversion, AKA convincing users to join.

Photo

Can’t stress this enough. UPLOAD ONE. If you don’t, you’re automatically dumped into the Facebook FAIL Group because it looks like you put zero time or effort into creating your Group. Why would I want to join when you can’t be bothered to upload an image?

Website

Duh, again. Include it. You won’t need the http:// here however; Facebook automatically inserts it to create a clickable link.

Checkboxes and Radio Buttons

Show, enable, allow. This is part of what I call “keeping the Group as open as possible.” Giving people the chance to do stuff within the group provides more opportunities for mini-feed posts, invites outside of your network and greater rankings.

Goes without saying that for the final option you should select “This group is open.”

Phew! That’s it. Now your Group is set up and you’re on your way to high rankings and lots ‘o users. But the work is not over. There are Wall Posts, Photos and Discussion Boards to deal with, not to mention Potential Members to invite and Events to post.

I’ll explain Events in the next post, but for now make sure to invite people slowly and include a personal message when you do. Facebook will like you and users are more likely to accept your invite. You also need to keep content fresh and maintain the Group in order to make members stay and encourage new members to join.

2 Comments

  • [...] SEO Part 2: Events Thursday, 05 March 2009 If you haven’t read the previous post on Facebook Group SEO, I suggest going through that first before diving into Events. Groups are a little bit easier to [...]

  • [...] Pages have been and will continue to be indexed by search engines; this means that unlike Facebook Groups and Facebook Events, your Page will be visible in Google search results and can be viewed by people [...]

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