You drive amazing amounts of traffic to your sites, grow conversions and engage with thousands of users over social media. Want to take your search and social efforts to the next level? Try forming a Social-SEO super group to exploit synergies, foster collaboration and deliver better results across Social and SEO.
Integrating your online marketing efforts is all about breaking down silos and delivering amazing results for brands and agencies. Social and SEO marketers can be a big part of this.
As marketers, our ultimate aim is to have one marketing super group with PPC, SEO, Social and Display working together seamlessly. Today though, let me focus on how you can leverage SEO data and build your own SEO-Social super group. I will use Twitter as an example to show how the SEO-Social super group works together.
Aligning Your SEO & Social Teams
For many an organization, the social team is in charge of engaging users, customers and influencers, based on their understanding of what these audiences care about. One big question that social media marketers ask is: given my engagement goals, what do I Tweet about? My answer is always a question: what matters to them?
Marketers usually answer this by scrolling down their Twitter stream, scanning and searching for keywords and hash tags that will give them a fair idea of what interests their audience. They also look across their followers and pore over their content and interests. This approach works if you have a few users interested in a limited range of topics. Look across hundreds of followers and you have a problem of scale.
Now, let us look at the SEO side. The SEO team has done an excellent job with on-page optimization and has a great link profile compared to the competition. The next logical step is to use social media to improve your already impressive rank. Maybe on-page optimizations and link outreach alone won’t help break into the Top Ten. Social media holds the key to making that breakthrough and the stage is set for collaboration.
How To Create Your SEO & Social Super Group
Step 1 – Think Keywords
Keywords are relevant to your audiences since that is how they search for the topics and themes that interest them. Also, content with these keywords has a greater chance of capturing their attention, interest and mindshare. So, when you ask What matters to my users?, try to picture that in terms of keywords.
SEOs know keywords. They go through the motions of elaborate keyword discovery in their quest for greater rank and conversions for their pages. Tap into this knowledge to identify keywords that matter to your users. If your SEO team tracks a huge number of keywords, especially long-tail ones, just eyeball the list and pick groups of related keywords that are most relevant to users.
The essence of this step is greater than simply identifying keywords – it’s also about adopting a mindset where you think of your audiences’ interests in terms of keywords, the exact words they use to describe their interests.
Step 2 – Identify Keywords Trending In Social Media
For the keywords identified in Step 1, look for metrics that will help you evaluate how much the keywords/themes map on to your users’ interests. Below are two metrics that can help you get started:
- Absolute number of Tweets with keywords - For each keyword, look at the absolute number of Tweets that include that keyword for this week – let us call this the Twitter Keyword Volume.
- Week-on-week change in number of Tweets - Look out for trends. Do you spot any keywords, which have a higher Twitter Keyword Volume for this week compared to the previous week or the week before? For the purpose of this article, ‘trending’ means a bump in the Twitter Keyword Volume week-on-week. It also makes sense to define different degrees of trending — keywords with a 50-100% change in keyword volume could be considered ‘moderate’ and 100%+ change can be ‘strong’ trending. Large changes are only meaningful if the absolute volume is a significant number.
Twitter Keyword Volume captures what matters to users right now. A bump in Twitter Keyword Volume for that keyword means that topic is trending and is of rising importance to users. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the growing momentum for this topic.
Now start collecting the data:
- Begin with the keyword portfolio you selected in Step 1.
- Measure the Twitter Keyword Volume for all keywords.
- Then see what percentage of keywords are trending strong, moderate, weak and not at all.
- Utilize this data for prioritization (see the next step).
Step 3 – Prioritize keywords For Driving Twitter Activity
Choosing the right keywords to target based on what matters to users is a vital part of the process and also helps you prioritize your social media efforts. Here are a few approaches:
- Capitalize on keywords that are trending strongly immediately. Assign top priority to these keywords. Time is of the essence. If you see a mix of strong and moderate trending keywords, first pick all strong trending keywords and then choose a few moderate trending keywords, too, depending on your bandwidth.
- Check to see if the topics overlap with existing campaigns you have scheduled. If yes, you could prioritize some of the keywords relevant to these campaigns. Again, use the trending data to decide which keywords get special treatment.
- If you have unlimited time and resources, you can skip to the next step! If not, assess bandwidth available for Twitter activity. When you select the keywords/topics, consider how many Tweets you send out daily/weekly/monthly and how much effort is required. I recommend you start small, get a feel for the process and show results you can measure before expanding your target keyword set.
At the end of this step, you should have a list of keywords which will be at the core of your Twitter strategy.
Step 4 – Map Existing Pages To Trending Keywords
SEOs know keyword-page mapping. Share your list of target keywords and ask them what pages are best optimized for each of these keywords.
Now is also a great time to refine your keyword priorities – if you see some pages that are high performing in terms of rank or conversions, you could increase the priority for the keywords that map on to these pages.
Let us summarize the data we have so far – you should now have a list of keywords related to the topics that matter to your users and which will help you prioritize your Twitter efforts, and you have the pages (content) which are optimized for these keywords.
Step 5 – Craft Your Tweets
I have used the word ‘craft’ in this case because it’s not just about Tweet volume — it’s all about sending the right Tweet content in the right language at the right time. The right placement will also help you.
The Right Time: This stems from the keywords that are trending now. You can further refine the timing by testing the time of the day, days of week and so on.
The rRght Language: You know in what exact terms your users think about their topics of interest. Include these keywords in your Tweets since you know that Tweets with such keywords are trending. You could have them in the body of the Tweet or in the hash tags. You’ll need to test – more on this in Step 6.
The Right Content: This maps on to the pages that are optimized for these keywords. Include the URL of these pages in the Tweets.
You can see some ideas on how to construct Tweets in the article How To Tweet What You Want, Because Content Matters.
The right placement: Promoted Tweets place your Tweets on top of the search results page when a user searches for a trend (keyword) or on top of a user’s home timelines when that Tweet is relevant to the user.
Not only does promoting Tweets improve visibility for your Tweets but it also helps you test if your Tweets strike a chord with users a la keyword discovery using AdWords. This primer on Promoted Tweets on the Twitter site should help you get started. If you have a budget, think about Promoted Tweets.
Step 6 – Measure Your Success, Fine-Tune & Use The Findings For Future Campaigns
Let us now review how Steps 1 through 6 should work. Tweets with the right keywords and well-crafted content will catch your users’ attention at the time the related topic has momentum and lead to more clicks from users. This should also increase user engagement, as reflected in the rise in number of followers (the ones that matter) as you Tweet and conversions on the landing pages.
How do you make sure this happens? Fine-tuning your tactics based on your knowledge of the target audience and a lot of A/B testing holds the key. The goal of your testing is to answer some of the following questions:
- Should the keywords be at the beginning?
- Should the Tweets include keywords as hashtags?
- What tone works best?
- What time of the day and week works best?
- Are Promoted Tweets paying off?
Just remember, you have a narrow time window to test what’s working. Try to keep any testing plans simple and easy-to-implement. To enable this testing and know what’s working, you need two things: metrics (from Twitter and your site) and a tracking mechanism to capture these metrics.
Twitter Metrics: It is always good to analyze metrics and activity directly on Twitter. Look at the number of clicks on the Tweet URLs, Re-Tweets and Favorites to get a sense of whether your Tweets are actually engaging users.
Also, look at the change in number of followers. To be reasonably confident that this change is due to your Twitter tactics, try not to play around with too many variables at the same time.
I would also advice gathering some subjective feedback as part of this process. For example:
- Which Tweets drive comments and which don’t?
- How are they labeled?
- How do they reference the content?
- Do they have hashtags? How many?
- Did you gain any new keyword ideas?
Site Metrics: When users Re-Tweet, Favorite or click on the links in your Tweet or Re-Tweet, that’s a great first step – it means your Tweet caught their attention. That’s only a great first step though, a means to an end. The true test of whether you are engaging users is if, after clicking on your link, whether they take meaningful action on your site i.e. they convert. A few examples of metrics you can track on your site are:
- Page views
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Conversions – downloads, registrations, forms submitted
If at least some of these metrics for your landing pages improve, that’s great news!
Tracking Mechanism: To isolate the impact of your Twitter tactics so you know what’s working and what’s not, you need a way to track the results of your testing and attribute success to them. Link shorteners or markers on your Web analytics platform that call out where the traffic originates are useful.
For better tracking, run these as campaigns: choose a handful of keywords and pages, select a time window, choose one or some of the metrics above and track them closely during that time. Do not vary anything else during this time window and act fast.
Remember, you want to capture your audience’s attention at the crest of the wave. If you miss the bus, don’t worry — your learnings may be applicable to the next campaign.
Step 7 – Collaborate: Both Social & SEO Teams Win
The SEO team is not just a benefactor; it’s a beneficiary, too. Social signals matter in SEO as Google and Bing have explicitly stated. The “halo effect” from sites that latch on to these Tweets influences search engine rankings.
Not only does social positively influence SEO, it also brings traffic. Hence, if your SEO team needs more social media traction for some pages, they can work with the Social team, as described above, and tweet more strategically.
Your SEO team can then measure what’s working by correlating rank for those pages with the number of Tweets for the same pages. As the number of Tweets went up for pages being shared by your Social team, was there a positive correlation with rank?
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to get a million Tweets to impact rank. Adobe improved rank for one of its key pages from twenty-eighth to second through only seven Tweets as described in the article, How Adobe Uses Search Data to Drive Cross-Channel Sales.
Case In Point: Performics & Feeding America
Leading digital marketing agency Performics sought to help Feeding America use Twitter to create greater awareness about its activities and take targeted actions such as donating and volunteering.
Driving the right traffic to specific pages on its site was a necessary first step. Performics pretty much followed the process outlined in Steps 1 through 6 to reach specific keyword-oriented audiences and direct them to targeted pages about hunger-related issues. Through these efforts, Feeding America saw a whopping 250% rise in traffic from Twitter compared to Tweets sent without the keyword-based process above.
You can learn more about how Performics achieved such outstanding results for Feeding America on the Twitter Developer website.
Listening to the Twitter “firehose” of data and seeking the keywords and pages optimized for search drives great impact in social media. Conversely, leaning on social and measuring its influence on search is going to become more and more important during the course of 2013.
Integrating your search and social efforts brings better brand visibility and higher conversion rates. The key is to present the right content to the users at the time they need it in an engaging manner, across all the channels they visit.
By collaborating with the SEO team, your Social team knows what matters to users and has the content to back it up at the right time. Internally, your SEO team benefits from social promotions. You have finally fostered collaboration across your search and social teams based on real data!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.