4 Ways to Enhance SEO with Social Listening

Words. Funny things… words. We use them all the time. In fact I’ve used of 27 them so far in this post. But how do we use them? We use them to write, to speak, to think, to communicate. We use them as an index to our world. Everything can be categorized with words. This could be one reason search engines work so well ;-)

I don’t mean to be flip, but think about words. Think about how words are used and where they are used to search and to interact. This “how” and “where” are the key differentiators between SEO and social. And guess what? They’re also the most common denominators.

Here are four ways you can enhance SEO with social, and vice-versa.

Social listening can help forecast a topic trend

Google Trends, AdWords and Insights are great. If you’re not using either, try ‘em out. You can quickly distill what’s being said, and how it’s being said. Don’t stop there, though as you research search terms. Use Google Blog search as well. Look at how bloggers are referencing topics that match yours. Are there nuances that can help? Try the same exercise with Twitter Search or Topsy.

Here’s a look at a vague term, “storage”:

If you’re actively working with a social media monitoring tool, what key phrases are common? Could they apply to search?

Search is still influential

What people search for is a very valid way to help work through keyword selection as you build search profiles inside a social media monitoring (SMM) tool. You could experiment with misspellings as well by plugging them into a Twitter search. You never know, you could discover an up-and-coming influencer who’s having a bad typing day. This Twitter search for “stoarge” helps draw a picture.

And if one of your company bloggers happens to rank well in a Google search for a given topic, you’ve just unearthed an influential means to spread your marketing message!

Another look at “storage,” this time with the Google AdWords Keyword Tool:

Social exposes casual language

Ever start monitoring social media with your search terms? I’ll bet you did. So did I. It’s always a great start, especially with the work already done. But if you’ve done social listening/monitoring you’ve probably realized that your search campaign often contains phrases you’ve found irrelevant and you’ve found that there are terms and word usages that go beyond traditional search campaigns. With traditional search campaigns, you’re bidding on searches for exact terms. With social there’s no bidding, so phrase stems, roots, basics are all you  need. Additional word can help you filter. For example, “social media” searches will return a ton of stuff. “Social media listening” will return a bit less. And so will “social media listening tools.” You get the idea.
 There’s a big difference between Twitter and most of the rest of the web. On Twitter, we’ve become accustomed to fny abrvtns of words and #allsorts of hashtags to represent ideas. Pretty much everywhere else that’s publicly searchable, we’re probably writing full thoughts with many words strung together in proper sentences. It’s these proper sentences where SEO really struts it’s stuff. Because search campaigns are built around these specific thoughts (ie – combinations of words) it matches up much more closely.

That isn’t to say we’re using our best writing on forums and discussion groups. We have open ended room to write, but still have the opportunity to leverage the causal language often attributed to social. Should we use this language in search campaigns? It depends. Test some phrases in Google to see what’s there.

Social and search work together

Blended search brings together text and keyword focused search with video and images. Think of YouTube and Flickr as extensions of your search campaigns. Google has been prioritizing this type of content in search results. Don’t miss out.

Same goes for conversations about your brand happening on other social sites, blogs and forums. Work with your social champions to optimize the investment you’re making in search. Those efforts (and resources) can have a direct effect on how folks are finding you through sites like LinkedIn, Quora, Focus and others.

If Google can’t find you, then it’s likely that no one can. The lines of the social web are blurring every day. In fact, YouTube is the #2 search engine. Are you optimizing your videos for search? Are those filenames, titles, descriptions and keywords search optimized? Are you using web tracking tools to capture specific traffic from these channels to your web site?

Use these techniques to bring your digital marketing efforts together. There’s a ton of synergy here and lots of existing resources you might not have thought could play well together. In fact, these are just some basic ideas as orgs move toward a comprehensive view of the customer.

This is part of an occasional series I’ll write highlighting why 2012 will be the Year of Engagement through social.

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  1. [...] We’re lucky to have a framework in place that gives us some context to help folks start small. We aggregate what I call the “how manys” for our social champions. That’s the followers, likes, fans, friends, tweets, posts, blogs and so on that marketing managers like to count in order to show that their respective needle moves. These are important numbers to do some valuable engagement math, but in and of themselves, not valuable. They’re not valuable until given a contextual layer. About nine months ago, the EMC Social Team made the decision to separate social metrics from social listening. We found great variations in the understanding of either data set. Today, we use those “how manys” to lead our marketing brethren into conversations about the context and value they provide social audiences. Awesome stuff to see someone else’s ah-ha! moment when they realize numbers are good, but words are better. [...]