Synopsis – Keyword research is an integral part of search and pay-per-click marketing. We spend a lot of time researching, choosing, and testing different keywords and keyword combinations in our search (no pun intended) for the perfect combination that will bring searchers to our digital doors. But one area that some marketers have not yet begun to use keyword research for is social media — and that’s a big mistake. The fact is that social media involvement by business needs keyword research just as much as other endeavors, and for fundamentally the same reasons.
In her article, “Speak Your Customer’s Language On Social Networks With SEM Keyword Strategy,” Hallie Janssen discusses why social media campaigns need keyword research in a social-media-directed re-hash of the major reasons businesses use keyword research for other reasons. She then outlines how you can use some of the tried-and-true metrics that are central to keyword research in the social media setting to optimize your efforts there, with an example from a typical SEM campaign and its counterpart in social media.
If you’ve never really considered using keyword research for social media efforts, it’s time to do so. Hallie’s article will get you kick-started, as well as help established marketers ensure they are hitting all cylinders in this all-important strategy.
The complete article follows …
Speak Your Customer’s Language On Social Networks With SEM Keyword Strategy
As search engine marketers, we know the value of good keyword research. We know that a well-optimized website with keywords used by our target audience yields higher rankings in the SERPs and subsequently more qualified traffic and more conversions. We also know that we can use the same keyword lists to target audiences via paid search and site placement options, through platforms like Google AdWords and MSN adCenter. Honing those lists is even more important when paying per click, because having the wrong keywords will cost us money. But how many of us are using that same keyword research and knowledge to feed our social media campaigns? And how many then take that knowledge full circle to feed our search campaigns?
The goal of keyword research in search engine marketing (SEM) is to find the keywords your target audience is searching upon to find you, your products, your services, or your solutions. You also want to figure out things like how many people are searching on such keywords and when they are searching. But with social media keyword research, you want to understand what keywords people are using to describe your product or services or talk about a problem they need a solution to. But there is another side to social media keyword research. You want to be sure you are talking their language — are you using the same words they are?
In this article, I’m going to teach you how to apply traditional SEM keyword research to help you find the right keywords that will aid in your social media conversations. This will help you construct and communicate your messages effectively on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Why Do Social Media Campaigns Require Keyword Research?
Countless benefits exist for doing some keyword research before you blast out your messages via Facebook or Twitter. Many of these benefits are precisely the same as when doing social media listening:
- Identify influencers — Find those often using your terms when talking on social networking sites and then determine if those folks are true influencers.
- Context and intent — How are your terms being used? In conjunction with what other terms?
- Finding the right hashtags — A critical part of executing a successful Twitter strategy.
- Cultivating ideas for blogging and general posting — What else are people interested in, in relation to your keyword?
- Research and development — What are people saying about you and your products? Can you use those terms when talking with them?
- Being relevant and entertaining — Extremely important in keeping followers following. Track trends, integrating them into your messaging strategy to keep followers coming back for more.
- Competitor research — What are your competitors using as keywords in social campaigns?
Applying Tried-And-True Keyword Research Metrics and Tools To Social Media Optimization
Many metrics and methods apply when doing keyword research for any type of campaign, be it search or social. A few examples that particularly apply to keyword research for social media follow.
1. Volume And Popularity
With traditional keyword research, you want to target the terms that your audience is using most often, and the hidden gems that get a moderate amount of searching or longer “tail” keywords. Sticking with the goal of targeting terms that the majority of your audience is searching upon or using in conversation, you need a tool to help determine the most popular terms.
SEM Tool — For example, “running shoes” and “tennis shoes” can mean the same thing, depending upon which part of the country you are in. By using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, I can see that over 1.5 million people search on the term “running shoes” each month. In comparison, only 350,000 searches are done a month for “tennis shoes.”
Social Tool — You then need to verify that “running shoes” is indeed the more popular search term on your social platform. For Twitter in particular, I like the tool Twazzup, which tells me the “Tweet Per Hour” of any term I type in. I see that this term is tweeted 73 times per hour, and “tennis shoes” is tweeted half as many times at 37 per hour. As an extra bonus, Twazzup also provides popular hashtags and users per keyword.
So how might I apply that insight into my social campaigns if I sell shoes? I’ll want to make sure that I include “running shoes” more often in my social items, as that is the more popular term. I’ll also want to tag my photos and videos with the more popular term so that it will show up in search engines beyond just Google and Bing and more in social engines like YouTube.
Focusing on keywords that have a decent amount of popularity and search volume, but a lower number of competitors is the holy grail of SEO. You will have an easier time ranking for keywords that with fewer competitors, but still enough clicks to justify the effort it takes to optimize your site. The same goes with researching your competitors in social media. You’ll want to integrate popular terms in your social campaigns, but not so popular that you don’t have a chance to rise above the noise.
SEM Tool — Many metrics exist to gain an understanding of how competitive a keyword is. One such tool that I use to understand competition is SEMRush, which has a great competition gauge. It tells me that “tennis shoes” is slightly less competitive than “running shoes.”
Social Tool — When trying to determine keywords that are less competitive and thus ones that you want to use in your social campaigns, I recommend using a “real time” search engine like Topsy. This social media engine will tell you which terms are more competitive than others by just looking at the number of people posting about a certain topic. The bonus is that I can see which platform is most competitive, as Topsy shows stats for Tweets, Photos, and Videos.
With search campaigns, you need to plan budget and site real estate according to seasonality, when people are searching upon most and ready to convert at a higher rate. In this case, I want to know when people are searching for “running shoes” the most so that I can save my budget and ensure my search ads are shown to them when they are most likely to search AND buy. As for site real estate, I want to feature products on my site that folks are interested during that time of the year. So, when do people search for and talk about “running shoes”?
SEM Tool — The tool I like best for seasonality of search terms is Google Trends because it will tell me which month gets the most searches per term, and allows me to filter by region and time. Theoretically, I could find out when people in a certain state search upon “running shoes.”
Social Tool — Trendistic is my go-to tool that tells me when people tweet certain keywords. I like this tool because it gives me up to 180 days worth of results, which helps me plan my content calendar. I also like it because I can quickly compare terms and find any discrepancies in seasonality between related terms.
4. Related Terms
Just searching upon keywords that you know are already popular or are your targeted terms is too one-sided. You need to branch out and see what other keywords you might be missing. By using tools that will help you see what other terms are getting searched upon, you can also include related terms in your social media efforts.
SEM Tool — Google Correlate is the latest keyword insights tool launched by Google. According to Google, Correlate was first used back in 2008 when they “found that the activity of certain search terms are good indicators of actual flu activity.” The current release helps correlate certain searches with others people are carrying out in tandem. With my “running shoes” example, I can see that people also search for tennis shoes, trail shoes, and even flat feet. I can also see in which state people search upon my terms more often than others.
Social Tool — By using a tool that tells me related terms, I can then expand my social media content calendar into areas I might not have thought of. For example, I might want to write a blog post on “flat feet,” since the above example tells me that people search this along with “running shoes.”
Applying this level of keyword insight to all your social media optimization efforts gives you the maximum value out of your social media marketing efforts. You will be able to optimize videos and blog posts for top rankings in the social engines; find the best tag within social bookmarking platforms; and post content that will resonate and instantly connect with users.