Optimizing Facebook Timeline for parent and local fan pages

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If you’re marketing a brand on Facebook, you may have March 31, 2012 circled on your calendar. That’s the day all brand Facebook Pages become Facebook Timelines – whether you like it or not.

There’s plenty of good information out there about setting up your Timeline.

But if you’re a brand with multiple storefronts, you have a particular challenge. You may have a parent Facebook account with several local fan pages that correspond to various locations. These “child pages” are just as important as the parent page, as they are all directly linked to your brand as a whole. You need a plan to keep it all together.

Maintaining the consistency of each local Facebook page is important for your SEO strategy and for maintaining a long-term brand strategy for Facebook. Components of profile consistency include keyphrase focus, fan page profile structure and the overall aesthetics for all your local fan pages. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can optimize these components for both search engines and for your long-term social strategy.

An important note: Do your research before embarking on your unified keyphrase strategy endeavor. The list of branded and non-branded keyphrases you come up with will be associated with your brand for the long term. You may want to consult with a search marketing agency or use search tools like Raven’s Research Assistant or Research Central to help guide your groundwork and hone your best keyphrase targets.

Vanity URLs

Choose a consistent vanity URL for each location. It is important that each claimed page has the same keyphrase structure, which should include the city or location name and the name of the brand.

Example formula: http://facebook.com/[city]+[brand name]

If you cannot change your URL structure (it has already been claimed) or the name of your page (you have over 100 fans), consider creating a new page and merging all duplicate check-in or fan pages to your primary child page.

Page Title

The same structure formula for vanity URLs applies to page titles. Create a consistent page title for each of your location pages.

Example formula: [Brand Name] + [City/Location Name]

It is important to note that the page title is the H1 tag for your page, so really take some time to craft a focused strategy for your local page names.

Profile info

The “about” section functions as the meta description in the SERPs for your Facebook page. It is important to include your primary keyphrase, brand name and location in this area, and to keep it short and to the point. Create a sentence or two that incorporates these three components that does not read like a robot. Aim for 150 characters or less so that your section can be read in full when viewed in the SERPs.

For other sections of the profile, make sure to include your web address properties (even though it creates a no-follow link) and keyword-rich and compelling text that describes your brand.

Images

To maintain aesthetic consistency and to make your parent page clearly distinguishable, display the same profile photo and cover photo for each local page, and different images for the main parent page.

You can also label each of the file images that are uploaded to your local page profiles incorporating one of your primary keyphrases, as part of traditional image file best practices for SEO. However, this does not guarantee that Facebook will honor your labeling effort – it could change the file back to a series of garbled numbers. This may change with time (Facebook is known for changes), so you might as well plug it in right the first time and adjust later if you must.

Facebook Apps (formerly known as tabs)

To complete the uniform look and feel for your locations pages, make sure that all have the same types of apps, in the same order, across all location pages, and that they correspond with your parent page. It is a good idea to keep your keyphrase strategy in mind as you craft the content of your apps and to create a keyphrase optimized app title where applicable. Make your goal consistency!

Posting

This is another area where a unified keyword strategy is necessary. Facebook updates do carry weight with SEO, and are “graded” based on Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm. It is important to think about each post in terms of affinity (popularity of post), weight (type of content) and time decay (age of post). Learn more about these variables at EdgeRank Checker.

Certain posts have more permanence in the Timeline stream, like Milestones or pinned posts. Some posts can be more engaging, like a photo or video. It is important to think about the keywords you are using to frame these posts so that you have some control over how they could be indexed by search engines.

A final note: The main goal of optimizing your Facebook page is to have a consistent look and feel across all of your brand pages, and to integrate your current SEO strategy with your social campaign. If you establish a consistent keyphrase strategy and a style guide up front, you will certainly be able to think fast feet as changes happen to the Facebook fan page platform. Good luck!

Do you have any other tips for optimizing Facebook brand Timelines for multiple pages? Let me know in the comments.

Yola Blake is a Social Strategist at Get Page One, a search marketing agency located in Downtown Austin, Texas. Connect with her on Twitter @yolunia or on Google+.

Photo courtesy Gerry Balding on Flickr

  • Great article. I wanted to trow in my two cents to say that any business with several locations needs to look into facebook parent child.

    It lets you claim and clean up all of your store info (name conventions, descriptions etc), and ties your location pages directly to your brand page. From there you can push cover photos and profile images to all of your pages, and even push check-in deals to all of the locations too.

    With graph search launching, this is something that any business needs to take care of asap.

    Great info here:
    http://www.slideshare.net/room214/facebook-parentchild-functionality