A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: Using Keyword and Topic Ranking Data for Better Social Media Strategy
Using keyword and topic ranking is a common practice for informing search and paid marketing campaigns, but knowing what your audience is talking about and how they’re talking about it is effective for social media efforts, as well.
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Manager, Marketing & PR at GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Karen: Hi, everyone! Welcome to this week’s edition of FOUND Friday. Today is the first in a series of episodes all focused around keyword best practices for marketing and SEO. I’m your host Karen Scates and with me today is Erin O’Brien, our COO.
Hey, Erin, how’s it going?
Erin: Hey, Karen, going well.
Karen: Good. You realize that tomorrow is August 1st.
Erin: I can’t even think about it. I can’t talk about it. I can’t think about it because I remember the show we did at the beginning of the year talking about wrapping up last year’s marketing and using that for best practices for this year and some things around that. I swear it feels like it was just two or three weeks ago, not eight months ago.
Karen: I was just going to say that was yesterday we talked about that, wasn’t it? A lot of times I’ll refer to something on the show and I’m like, “Oh yeah, last week.” “No. That was two months ago.” At least I know it’s August. I don’t think it’s June anymore, so that’s good.
We’ve been talking about how a lot of people associate keyword and topic ranking with search and paid marketing campaigns. We’ll be talking more about that in the next couple of weeks during this series. But knowing what your audience is talking about and how they’re talking about it is important for social media efforts, as well. So let’s talk about that a little bit more today.
To start out, what are some ways we can use keywords to improve our social media efforts?
Erin: There are four key things I want to focus on with using keywords in social media to improve marketing:
- Understanding current keyword performance in search volume to inform topics for social media posts.
- To dive more into competitor intelligence around keywords and social and to use that information to better market to your audience and engage with them.
- Finding new keywords and topics that you might not be tracking and talking about currently but that actually are relevant to your audience and what kind of help you build up more of a rapport of them.
- Bringing the experience full circle and using social media to inform new keywords and content, so making sure that you’re getting all of this data and doing a full loop system.
Karen: Let’s start at the beginning. How would I go about finding the current relevant keywords for my content?
Erin: There are lots of ways to find out what keywords are driving traffic to your content, although fewer now because of Google’s keyword not provided update last year. If you’re not in charge of SEO at your brand but someone is, I would start by asking them for a list of current tracked keywords including rank and search volume data.
The reason you’re going to want both rank and search volume data is because you want to know not only what topics are currently working well and not working well for your brand but you also want to know how much volume they’re getting to know whether that it’s worth the time to spend on doing that. You don’t necessarily want to look at something or spend a lot of time talking about something that you’re ranking number one for but nobody’s actually looking for.
There’s also a lot that can be said about watching how rank changes over time and what you can do with that data, as well as matching specific keyword rank to specific content. But we’re going to keep it simple for now but we’ll get into that as we talk more throughout the course of the next few weeks during this campaign.
If there isn’t someone at your organization that’s responsible for SEO, I’d ask around to see if there’s currently an analytics platform or measurement in place that’s capturing this information. If you have Google AdWords, you can use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to take a look at some keywords. That’ll also give you some search volume projections and things like that.
If not, there are tons of keyword tools you can take a look at out there. I would say Google that or you can always give us a shout at Ginza and you can take a look using our platform. Either way, I would say that at a bare minimum the basic ranking and search volume information is what you’re going to want to make sure you can get a hold of.
Karen: Now I’ve got the right keywords, what would be my next step for using them in social media?
Erin: Once you have a starting point of keywords that are already driving traffic to your content, I’d like to see if the keywords and phrases that are ranking well in search are things that you’re actually talking about on social media. If you find out that you’re ranking really well, if my company does “SEO platform,” “content marketing tools,” and “competitor intelligence” as keywords that we’re tracking and “competitor intelligence” is something that we’re ranking really high on in search then I want to make sure that I’m actually putting together social posts around this conversation and sharing content that’s ranking highly on search because obviously that’s something that the audience that I’m trying to get a hold of is already organically interested in.
You can do some testing to see if keywords performed differently on social versus search which might tell you about audience segmentation and help with conversion information if you have a sales team especially. For example, if we have a lot of interested leads around competitor intelligence via organic search, but on social people are really talking more about content marketing tools, then that can help you have more productive conversations further into the marketing funnel.
The next part of that is to really understand that if a topic and content are performing really well on social, the idea is to take that and expand it well to other channels and not just be like, “Okay. That worked. Great. Check the box.”
What I mean here is if you’re currently let’s say sharing a blog post on Twitter and Facebook around a particular topic and that’s working really well, I would consider taking that blog content and that sharing and creating SlideShares, videos, e-books, ads, etc. because that can tell you, if somebody is interested on Facebook and Twitter, they’re probably interested in it elsewhere, as well. If they’re interested as a blog, they might be interested in it in other formats.
If you’re not responsible for both social media and this content creation situation, I would still take the data and make the suggestions because it should make you look like kind of a smart cookie.
Karen: Right. You do want to make sure that even if you’re not involved with the social media part that you’re messaging as matching that lead, so there’s got to be that conversation between the two.
You mentioned earlier, Erin, the competitor content and social media post. What can we do there with our keywords?
I think we’ve actually lost Erin here for just a minute. I’m going to give her a second to come back online.
We’re talking today about keyword best practices for marketing and SEO. We’ve begun the conversation talking about keywords with social media. Hopefully we can get Erin back online here and continue the conversation. She was just talking a little bit about looking at your competitors and what they’re doing, how they’re talking on social media and looking at their content to decide what it is that you should be doing around your keyword usage, using what you find on social media to create blog posts and to inform your decisions. If you’re not involved with social media, working with your social media department or the people who are involved with social media to help inform your content – I think we have Erin back.
Erin: I am. I’m sorry about that. I guess talking about Google AdWords and Planner tool and keywords not provided had them remove me from Google Hangout. Sorry for missing you there for a minute. Where did we leave off?
Karen: That’s okay. I was just asking you about competitor content and social media posts, and how we can use that to our advantage.
Erin: There are a couple of good ways to use competitor information on content and keywords to boost your social. Really, the first that I would suggest is to look at how your competitors are ranking for some of the same target keywords and topics that you’re already tracking. Then for keywords that they’re ranking higher on, see what content they’re creating that’s actually beating you.
The second thing that you can do is to look at all of your competitors’ content and try to sort that by high sharing volume on channels. What you’ll be able to see here is the specific highest shared content that they’re creating on each social channel (for example, most Facebook likes, most Facebook shares, most tweets, etc.) to understand what content and topics your audience is finding interesting. If your competitor is creating really compelling content on Facebook and Twitter that’s getting a lot of shares, that’s obviously something that your audience is interested in.
I’ll mention here that creating keyword and content groups is really important. We’ve talked a lot about this in past episodes and we got content on the site for it. So I would say go there for deeper information. But it makes this a lot easier to handle and to utilize. You can segment out what content and keywords go with particular features, product lines, marketing campaigns, etc.
So if you set up your keyword groups and your content groups that way, then what you can say is, “I just really want to focus right now on promoting this particular feature.” So then I’m only going to look at content around that particular feature and we’re going to look at competitors around that particular feature. I’m only going to look at keywords around that thing and then I’m only going to work on social media and content from that angle for now because it’s really difficult to try to do this for an entire brand all at one time.
If you’re not currently using a platform that’ll show you this but want to, give us a shout and we’ll show you what we have to offer. We’ll also include some screen shots of what some of this data can look like in the blog post that follows up from this episode.
Karen: You mentioned the keyword and content groups. I think that was actually the conversation that started this whole thing. We started talking about keyword best practices and creating keyword and content groups. We got so many questions that we decided that it would make for a good series. I’ll include the link to that blog on this recap. So anybody who missed that episode can look back.
Moving forward, how do we differentiate our own content but still rank the keywords that the competitors are ranking for? We don’t want to create the exact same content. How do we differentiate that enough?
Erin: You definitely don’t want to blatantly copy somebody else’s content. It’s bad for SEO and it’s generally just lazy marketing that doesn’t pay off in the long run. But what you can do is from all this information about what topics and types of content are interesting to your shared audience is to create a new spin on someone’s existing content.
For example, if your competitor wrote a really great Content Marketing 101 Guide that’s available for download as a PDF on their site, you could say, “That PDF is really great and it’s great explanation. So what I would do is maybe I’ll create a video series on that. Maybe I’ll make it into SlideShares. Maybe I’ll make it into an infographic.”
To allow your audience to still get this content Marketing 101 information that they want but in new and different format, that may actually be more appealing to them. I think that that’s always a really good opportunity for most brands that they might be missing out on.
Karen: What about finding new keywords and topics to talk about on social media?
Erin: Keyword and topic discovery is really important when it comes to creating better social engagement. What I mean by keyword and topic discovery here is that you know about the keywords that you’re tracking already because you’re tracking them, but what about topics that are related to those things that would actually lead your audience to engage with you – what I’d like to call adjacent keywords?
For example, if I was Nike and I’m working on promoting a line of women’s trail running shoes. In addition to just talking about the shoes and running, I might also want to talk about current trail conditions in different places, best trails around the country around the world, and engage with users to maybe provide weather updates on their favorite trails or other things like that. This creates a community around the various topics that you’re interested in selling to using broader discussions to make entry points with your target audience. One of the things that we miss out on a lot is this idea of having a good community conversation as opposed to being very singular about our topic focus.
Karen: I think that goes back to what people are talking about in terms of content marketing in general which is be helpful. Create conversations and content around the topics that your audiences are interested in. If you’re selling running shoes, your audiences are going to be interested in marathons and 5Ks and giving information about how to get into those or what to do if you become depleted of liquid or whatever it is. So being helpful in general just helps you to create that trust and a presence, a thought leadership in your own industry. It’s good advice.
Erin: It also gives you a lot more information to write about and to let you know what you could be talking about beyond maybe what you’re already doing. A lot of times what we struggle with when it comes to social, when it comes to content is being reactive, meaning I’m going to wait and see what somebody else says to me and then I’m just going to respond to that post because it’s hard to create enough content all the time for a lot of marketing departments. So you constantly have interesting things to share and topical things to talk about. Using these adjacent keywords and adjacent topics really broadens the amount of things that you can have a conversation about on a regular basis so that you are not saying, “I have this super narrow list of things that I can talk about.”
Once you’ve broadened that with some things that you can talk about, you may also be able to better inform product decisions. Maybe you’ll find out that people talk about this one thing a lot and that’s really good information to get back to a product team who is looking for the best ways to make a user’s experience good. This adjacent keyword thing, even though somebody from an SEO perspective may not always want to track all of those keywords, it’s great for other folks in the marketing department.
Karen: And you can put those into groups, so you’re not actually tracking every keyword separately. It makes it a little easier to manage.
Erin: Building keyword groups for these adjacent keywords is also something that we talk a little bit about. When we talked about search volume at the very beginning, some of the things we’re talking about is also like adjacent keywords and long-tail keywords that may not have a lot of search volume. Just because it doesn’t have a ton of volume doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.
I do want to make sure that people understand that if it doesn’t have a lot of search volume, I don’t want you to ignore it and not do both [? 16:17] around it. What I mean is if something is ranking number one and has zero search volume or one or two search volume, it may not be worth taking a ton of time creating a ton of new content around.
But things that do have some margin of search volume – especially when we’re talking about keywords. We’re not talking about just one word. We’re talking about phrases. We’re talking about descriptions. We’re talking about the way that people actually describe things. That has actually changed a lot as search engines and mobile and things like that have evolved over the last five to ten years.
If you have a very specific phrase and you even got let’s say 30, 40, 50 people who are searching for this, definitely engage with those people because those people are probably really interested in that topic because it’s super specific.
Karen: We talked about that a little bit also earlier. People can go and look on our blog post or I’ll provide a link to that.
You mentioned earlier that this comes full circle. Once I’ve used keyword data to inform my social media, what’s the next step?
Erin: For us, what we do is we like to create what we call Discovery Boards which is essentially a spreadsheet or Word document, however you want to do it, to see what the audience is talking about where and how. Then we use that information to inform new marketing campaigns and content creation decisions. What I mean by that is instead of just looking at what’s working well for our existing content coming in, we go out into the world and we go to forums, Facebook posts, and we search around and see what people who are in our audience already talking about without us being involved at all. One of the cool things you can learn there is you always write down: what problem are they trying to solve? From that problem, what are they trying to use to solve it?
In our example, people are trying to solve better search and content marketing, then we’re going to go out and look at forums and look at things where people are looking for that. Then we’re going to say, “What tools and practices are they already using to solve that problem and are they working or not?”
Another column in the spreadsheet is to look at what keywords and specific ways are they describing these problems? Because those are very likely the words and phrases we need to use to engage with them because that’s how they are describing their issues.
We also have a column that says what features that keep coming up? Or what needs keep coming up over and over again? What you’ll eventually see once you do this long enough is there are always a couple of things that bubble up to the surface as the most important. The majority of people are usually having the same couple of problems. If not and you have a super-fragmented audience, that’s actually a pretty big marketing concern. Each individual has a completely different problem.
Then from what their main pain point set seems to be, how they are talking about it and how can we actually create messaging that directly responds to that. Then from that kind of response, what exact features are they saying they want? Do people want a scheduling and calendaring tool? Do people want a keyword planning tool? What exactly is it that they’re looking for? From that, how can we actually create better content that talks about either what we do provide currently or how to find what you need so that we can really become a resource for people in our community to better do their jobs and find what they’re looking for.
Karen: Not all social media is created equal, just like everything else. Do you think it’s important to differentiate how you’re getting keywords and using them on the different types of social media platforms? How do we go about that?
Erin: Not all social media platforms are being created equal. They’re all just different. I would say that brands like certain social media outlets work really well for certain things depending on what you’re doing. Let’s say Pinterest isn’t performing really well right now, it may just be that you haven’t found out what people in your audience want on Pinterest. It may also be that Pinterest is just completely irrelevant but you should at least do some testing to find out.
Now with the advent of hashtag tracking and things like that, you can actually find a little bit more commonality around topics. With Twitter and Facebook and things like that, there are tons of tools where you can look for keywords that are being talked about, look for mentions, and surf around with that.
One of the things I like to know is, is something just a trending topic because someone famous brought it up? Or is it actually part of a real pain point and a need that is something that we should be paying attention to from a real content creation and marketing standpoint? A lot of times you’ll get this really big pop of mentions on a social channel and people will talk about it for a day or two. Then it’ll die back down because it’s not actually attached to a real problem.
Making sure that you don’t spend your time responding to flash-in-the-pan social trends I think is really important. Especially if you have a smaller marketing team that needs basically all the time you can get and all the resources you can use as opposed to, “I’m just going to keep redirecting myself a lot.” I know that that can be hard especially if you have a director or a VP or an executive team that wants to follow those trends.
Karen: We’ve talked before about measuring. I’ll put a link for this, as well. We’ve talked a lot about the medium, the method, and the message; and making sure that you’re not abandoning a social media platform just because one message or one campaign didn’t do well on that platform. How can we look at this from the keyword perspective on a historical or long-term basis?
Erin: The keyword perspective of this is essentially the message. It’s the topic and the thing that we’re talking about. You can also segment it even further into how exactly you’re talking about it. At the top level – I’ll go back to the example I gave earlier which would be SEO tools, content marketing platforms, and competitor intelligence. You can look at it from that broad perspective and see which of these messages resonates most with your audience. But you can also get even more granular which would be when I talk about competitor intelligence, when I talk about content tools, what type of talking about it actually works best? What specific words and phrases really seem to resonate with my audience? You can actually get more granular as you start doing this.
The other thing that you can do in addition to that granularity that goes back to medium, method, and message is like what you’re saying, channels not being created equal or them all being different is you’re measuring the message across multiple channels. You may find out that like competitor intelligence works really well on Twitter but that SEO tool works really well on Facebook, and that content marketing platform works really well on blogs. You definitely don’t want to necessarily abandon channels after a messaging strategy seems to perform really well on one thing. You don’t want to give up on everything else. You want to try new messaging strategies across those channels and see if you hit on something that that audience likes on that channel.
We talked about this, as well, which is a lot of things are part of an ecosystem. Just because you’re not getting direct leads and conversions from something, it may be part of an overall awareness generation that leads things full circle.
Those are really good conversations around what digital advertising and general advertising has because a lot of times you don’t get direct conversions from things but it is helping draw the eye and this top-of-mind awareness to things so that if I see Nike women’s trail running shoes in ads and I see blog posts about it or people mention it on Facebook or Twitter, see pictures of them on Pinterest, whatever the situation might be, I pass by billboards and I happen to be in the market for new shoes, the entire structure of all those things having been in my mind will help inform that decision. So simply saying, “I didn’t get any conversions from this ad today so I’m just going to turn off advertising,” can have detrimental effects in the long term.
Karen: It can be tempting to say, “This isn’t working. Let’s put our efforts over here because I only want to work on what’s working.” Especially if you have a small marketing team because it feels like there’s too much to keep track of. But it can have some detrimental effects.
Before we go, I like to leave people with a few key takeaways on keywords today. What would you say that people should walk away from this episode thinking about?
Erin: If you do nothing else, it’s this idea that social and search should work really well together especially from a keyword perspective, because both things are elements of people’s organic desire to look for and talk about things. Both of these forms of marketing have a really unique position in the fact that organic search is based on someone coming to a search engine and typing in what they want to find in their own words and how they want to do it.
Twitter and Facebook, same thing. It’s people choosing to write posts in their own words, choosing to engage and interact with other people using their own topics and conversation types. Also allowing them to share and retweet and post things that they like without necessarily saying, “Click here for this.”
By using the data that works really well across both of these and by deeper examining how people are talking about specific topics and channels, you’re just going to get so much richer of an experience across all marketing mediums that if you’re not already talking about search and social together, it’s probably a good time to start having that conversation.
Karen: I want to remind everyone that this is just the first episode in a series about keyword best practices for marketing SEO. Next week we’re going to be talking about keywords more in terms of search and then the following week in terms of paid media efforts. Next week we’ll be joined by Ray Grieselhuber, our CEO and founder, who will be returning from Japan. Maybe we can get him to talk a little bit about ad:tech in Japan, as well.
Unless you have something else, I’m going to call it a day.
Erin: Sounds good. I will see you next week.
Karen: Don’t forget that if you have questions, you can always get your answers from Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org or from me, email@example.com or have a conversation on Twitter at #FOUNDFriday following the show. If you have some questions and you send them to me, I’ll make sure that we address them next week.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Enjoy the last day of July and we’ll see you on August.