Sunday, 20 September 2015

Creating Synergy Between Social Media And Search

Search and social don't have to live in separate silos. Columnist Paul Shapiro discusses how your social media marketing and search efforts can work together.


In my last exploration of leveraging social media for SEO, I discussed how one can utilize social networks for link-building purposes. However, link building is only one of many ways that social media marketing and search can fuel one another.
Let’s explore some other social-search synergies.

Keyword Data

Social media can provide a rich secondary source of keyword information. The language used on social networks tends to be very conversational, and studying it is particularly useful for finding fresh, emerging keywords and naturally formed key phrases that might otherwise have remained hidden using conventional keyword research techniques.
At BrightonSEO in April, I discussed a free data-mining system for keyword research using the Twitter API. If this is a little too technical for you, there are some other, simpler ways of drilling into this data.
visualizing Twitter keywords for keyword research purposes
With a user-friendly tool like Foller.me, you can input your company and competitor Twitter usernames and get a list of “Twitter Topics” that are most prevalent in your space. These keywords should usually have representation on your website.
using foller.me to extract keyword topic from twitter to help with SEO
Another option for Twitter data is Hootsuite’s free Hootlet browser extension. One of its many features is a sidebar that appears alongside searches in the SERP that displays related tweets.
It’s helpful for finding topical gems and extra keywords as you explore information about a website’s subject matter or while performing keyword research-driven searches.
Hootlet adds Twitter results to the SERP

Optimization And Testing

Writing meta descriptions (or page titles) can be challenging, and often we do not have an opportunity to test their effect on CTR (click-through rate) beforehand. Using paid search to verify meta descriptions as ad copy requires a hefty budget. Fortunately, organic social media posts are free and are a viable testing alternative.
Meta descriptions tend to truncate around 155 characters, and tweets have a limit of 140 characters. Although not perfect, you can send a tweet with meta description copy, trying different variations and checking engagement metrics via Twitter Analytics.
The more engagement you get for a variation, the better the copy is for a meta description.
Alternatively, if you feel suppressed by Twitter’s character limit, you could do the same thing with Facebook, and then look at the number of likes the different post variations accrue.
You can do the same thing with title tags, or you can go the extra mile and conduct a more formal survey. I have used polling services like Wedgies, which embeds seamlessly into Twitter, making your post more interactive.
There is also an awesome service called TitleTester that is designed for this exact purpose. Although it doesn’t provide a poll that you can interact with right in the Twitter stream, it does have some advantages.
For one, TitleTester allows you to randomize the titles you are testing to yield more accurate and less biased results. For a nominal fee, you can even solicit additional people for the survey.
using TitleTester to write meta titles

Content Ideation

Social media — especially discussion-based networks — provides an excellent resource for new content ideas.
You can use this Google Spreadsheet to keep an eye on frequently asked questions in relation to your website’s topic on Quora (h/t John Doherty). To use the spreadsheet, choose “File->Make a copy…” and then change the column headers to a relevant topic on Quora.
example of tracking questions for content marketing purposes with Quora and Google Spreadsheets
Similarly, you can examine the types of questions people are asking on community websites like Reddit via FAQFox.
To use it, type in a relevant keyword and enter a website you want it to scrape; you can also select a category to look at pre-defined niche communities and social networks. You’ll get a list of questions people are asking, which you can then to export to CSV.
using FAQFox for content ideation and SEO
If you want to give your content a higher chance of performing well, being shared and linked to, then head over to BuzzSumo to look at existing material that has a proven track record of success.
Type a relevant keyword, examine the most shared content about that keyword, and expand upon it, making it better. It’s an easy way to strike content gold.
using BuzzSumo for SEO content ideation

Facebook Search Graph

Since being introduced in January of 2013, Facebook Search Graph has become increasingly more robust, and its features provide a wealth of useful information for search marketers.
SEO consultant David Mihm recently gave an excellent talk about Facebook Graph Search at MozCon, with some very practical use cases. Here are a few highlights:
  • To find a website to invest in for the Google Display Network, you can search Facebook for“Pages liked by people who like [insert Facebook page of relevant publication].”
  • To find influencers to get your message out there, you can search Facebook for “Journalists who live in [your location] that like [insert interest].”
  • To help build out personas and know what to write about for your audience, you can search“interests liked by people who like [insert your Facebook page].”

In With Search, Out With Facebook Ads Retargeting

My colleague, Nicholas Vining, has had success driving traffic and awareness through both organic and paid search, then remarketing to users on Facebook using a Custom Audience pixel. Here’s how:
Generate a tracking code and apply it to the head of your website. Then create one or more audiences, each with its own Audience Rules. For example, you can target all the people who came to your site via AdWords by inputting your paid search-specific landing pages under the “Website Traffic” section.
When someone clicks on your ad on Google, you can serve them an ad the next time they are on Facebook. This produces an additional opportunity to convert them if they did not do so the first time via AdWords.
targeting PPC landing pages with Facebook

Google Trends: Real Time For Social Sharing

With recent changes to Google Trends that allow us to see hourly activity, we now have a clear way for search data to inform our social media marketing.
For example, if I am promoting a sleep aid product, I can go to Google Trends and look at the termNightmare. Looking at a seven-day view, we see that searches for Nightmare typically peak between 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. ET.
We can conclude from this that we should schedule posts about our product on Twitter and Facebook around this time to reach our target audience when they are seeking information.
using hourly Google trends for social post scheduling

Final Thoughts

There are many ways social media activity and analytics can inform your SEO and PPC efforts. Think about your own internet usage patterns: you’ll likely see that most of your time is spent either searching for something or using social networks.
It’s time we stop treating search and social as separate marketing channels operating in silos and start investigating ways they can work together for smarter, more unified marketing.

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