A few weeks ago I spoke at the SEM San Diego meeting on the topic of Search and Social. During my talk I discussed the importance of having a holistic strategy across both channels as a way to engage consumers as they move through the purchase journey. I also mentioned that each channel provided insights that could help improve the other. To elaborate on that topic, here are 5 ways you can use social data to improve your search marketing program.
1. Keyword research
Keywords are the foundation to every SEM and SEO program. As a way to kick off a new program, or brainstorm new ideas from a mature program I like to leverage social data to build my seed list. With a few searches you can see real time trends, sentiment, and additional phrases to consider. Once I have a good seed list I add it to my search engine tools to see what the search engine volume is. A few of the tools that I like to use are: Social Mention, Sysomos MAP, Twitscoop, Facebook Search, and Addict-O-Matic.
2. Blog Topic Research
This is the logical next step from the previous tip. Once you have a good understanding of what phrases your audience is using to describe questions and pain points, you can leverage this info to guide your content strategy. It's like your very own personal focus group. This will help you gain the trust of your audience, and be seen as a thought leader rather than a marketer. This brings me to my next point…
3. Link Building
With the Google Penguin update, good-bye are the days where you can rely on article marketing and content distribution tactics as a way to improve your rankings. Now you actually need to create content that people want to learn about and are compelled to share with their network. If you leverage your audience for pain points and create content that helps them overcome them, readers are more inclined to share your content because it resonates with them. It's also important to note that search engines are keeping a close eye on social signals. They are rewarding sites that have a large variety of links from social sites with higher rankings, as this is a sign that the site is highly relevant.
4. Ad Copy Creation
Social media can be a great tool to help generate actual copy for your ads. They used to say search was the voice of the consumer, because you could learn about user intent from the queries they placed in search engines. I feel social is now taking the lead in this area, as you can gain insight into sentiment and phrasing. Since social media is conversational in nature you can learn how consumers are talking about your products and use similar phrasing as a way to connect with them. I used to work on a women’s apparel account, and I would leverage reviews and other social channels to get sound bites that I would use in my PPC ads. These ads performed 3x better than the standard marketing ads because we were speaking their language. I have also seen advertisers leverage ratings and reviews companies like Bazaarvoice to actually place user reviews in ads. I believe this is effective because it stands out from the competition, and studies have shown that user reviews are influential in helping users along the consideration phase of their journey.
5. User Validation
Brands that are leaders in their category don’t have to say that they are the best, because their audience does it for them. Search engines are now picking up the signals from Facebook likes, Google +1 posts, and integrating user reviews on various sites and adding that data as part of their search engine results. Their goal is to help users make faster decisions and they understand social signals can help. As an advertiser, these signals can help your site stand out from potential competitors. If you haven’t done so, I would recommend connecting your website with your Facebook, and/or Google+ Business Page. If you want more info on this topic, Wildfire just published a new whitepaper on how to insert your brand back into the social customer journey, where they cover social annotation and social signals.
These are just a few ways you can leverage social to improve your Search program, but I’m sure there are plenty more out there. If you have any to add to the list feel free to share your feedback in the comments.