How do people around you look for products? They might start on Google, but they could also do a search on Facebook or Twitter to get an idea of the discussion around a brand. They might also come across the brand initially on a social platform – the past notions of ‘first-click’ and ‘last-click’ methodology to attribute the path to purchase are simply out-dated in the modern process.
When considering SEO these days, you need to also consider the bigger picture, with social SEO being a serious factor.
So how do you cater for social search to compliment general SEO best practice? The easiest way to get an understanding of the situation is through social media monitoring.
You can set up keyword tracking on Twitter or Facebook and look at what discussions are being generated around your focus keywords and terms – you can do this for free in a social management app like Hootsuite, but you could equally use Twitter’s ‘TweetDeck’ or conduct a search query in Facebook. In doing this, you’re working to get an understanding of how your focus terms are being discussed on each platform, what other keywords are often used in conjunction, who, in terms of audience types, is mentioning your terms.
From this, you can expand and/or refine your keyword searches to get a better idea of where you should be looking and how you can meet the needs of these audiences. Are they asking their connections questions about your products or industry? You may be able to jump in and respond, though that can be intrusive – a better process might be to analyse how they’re framing their queries, then looking to use that insight to target key influencers and generate more word-of-mouth discussion.
Maybe you might find a new audience to target – the key discussions are being conducted by 20-something women who attend the gym. Sending out some free samples to some people who fit this profile – ideally those who are prominent in local community groups and discussions – might deliver huge benefits. This is essentially influencer marketing, but on a much smaller, more local scale.
At core, your social SEO efforts are still predicated on keywords, so it’s important to understand your most important focus terms, those that are seeing the most hits on Google. But the modern consumer has far more research and reference options on hand – as much as Google is important, you also need to put some work into understanding what other ways people are coming to your products and services, what other pathways they’re following to get to your website. Your analytics tools will help, but taking the time to dig a bit deeper and develop a better understanding of search behaviours, could deliver big benefits – not only in terms of wider keyword insight, but in persona modelling, audience understanding and contextual reference.
The path to purchase has changed dramatically in recent years. It’s worth noting exactly how those shifts relate to your brand.