Okay, before you get any weird ideas about this session’s topic, Halloween was last night. Humans are safe today. At least, I don’t think there are any zombies hiding in the conference room. If there are, they’ll probably become too distracted by this fantastic session from Michael King to actually inflict any damage. He’s going to give us the lowdown on using social data for content- and link-building strategies. Should be a nice tie-in to yesterday’s final post about content-based link building. After Duncan gives us another peppy intro, Michael gets down to business.
Ok, Michael just took the stage dressed as, I kid you not, MC Hammer. Unfortunately, his video didn’t start on time, so we had to wait a minute for the full effect. And yes, he did the Can’t Touch This dance. If you were unable to attend SearchLove for any reason, make sure you get here next time.
He starts out by telling us that search orbits social media. We create content, and push it into social media hoping for shares, likes, etc. But really, social intersects with search, and that’s the sweet spot.
Stop chasing the algorithm. The first time heard Matt Cutts say this, he didn’t get it. But search is about needs. People look for things they need, you have to fulfill that need. Search quality has to be there, or Google loses everything, so search has to be about fulfilling needs. It has to be about who and why instead of what.
Use social media to your advantage. People tell you every mundane thought they have. Use that against them. Invest in social listening. Use SocialMention, and invest in quantitative analysis tools like
Quantcast, comScore, and Compete.
Once you have the info, you need to develop personae. A persona is an ideal version of your user. Split that into four different user. Build for people—your end users. Not the search engines. They’ll always catch up to what people want. They have to—they have no choice.
Mike cautions that this is not to say you shouldn’t do great SEO. But social and search are going to integrate a lot more. For example, using rel=author, is going to be used to determine who the authorities are. So build your networks now because if not, you’re going to be behind the curve.
You need to satisfy appetites by creating content people want. You have to know your audience.
Mike uses a guitar company as an example. The personae he came up with are music moms, happy hobbyists, raging rock stars and involved instructors. These people are the target audience. This is who to go after. You can test all your assumptions about them by tracking analytics.
Issues with privacy
If you have a problem with collecting data like this, you can encrypt user IDs using md5 hashes or model the persona in the code. You can also use a platform called Pzyche. It’s just straight data on everyone who comes to your site. Mike has no idea where the data comes from, and they wouldn’t tell him.
You can also get data from LinkedIn and Google Plus, but keep in mind that with signed in G+ users, you will not get search referrers.
Using the demographic data user experiences can be tailored dynamically to reflect properties of the personae when they visit.
Ask yourself: Is this concept fulfilling a need? Does anyone care? When they search, are they compelled by the content? If not, you don’t deserve to rank.
There’s no reason the UX has to suck. Do less text, more visual. Make it more compelling.
Filter your keywords through Social Listening. Figure out whats going on in that industry. Learn it, know it, be it. When you talk to people the way they want to be talked to—naturally—it will resonate with them more.
Mike’s company worked with a UK airline, but he’s not going to say who. First thing they did was map users. Then they established business goals. Then they figured out what to optimize and what they needed to do. They did keyword research to see what people are talking about. They built an experience that reflected those needs. They made it easy for people to find what they’re looking for. And it worked! They increased bookings, organic traffic, and rankings.
Create compelling content
One thing he particularly likes to do—co-relevance: combine two or more concepts that typically don’t go together to create memorable content. If you do it right, there’s an audience built in.
Now Mike is giving his presentation in the form of a rap. Seriously, next time Distilled puts on a conference, or the next time Mike is speaking…Sign. Up.
People tweet the same things they search. That’s how you identify co-relevant content ideas.
With this tool, you put in keyword, creates an n-gram, and you get data compiled the same way search engines look at data. SEOGadget also has a tool to do this.
Throw away your form letters! Content is king for SEO, but for link-building, context is king. Use Twitter before e-mail. It’s made for finding data about people.
Use SEER’s method. It’s awesome. It’s a combination of using Open Site Explorer with Export.ly. However, Export.ly gives you shortened urls, so they may not be as useful. But Mike made a tool that takes the export and url, uses the SEOmoz intel API, and pulls root domains from Open Site explorer.
When you target people through social media, you need a persona. People will check your timeline so fill it with cool, relevant content and conversation. Be engaged in conversation about your target subject. Be an authority.
Personae are the key to scalability. They help you ID how to find your link prospect and how to start a conversation with them once you do. He mentions the post Justin Briggs wrote for Outspoken Media about content-based outreach for link building. [Thanks for the shout-out, Mike!]
Mike asks how many of you have Googled a guy or girl you met that you liked. Don’t lie! You know you have. You learned a bunch of stuff about them, but acted like you didn’t, and then when you had nothing to say in conversation, you referred to their likes and fave topics. As an example, he used KnowEm to look up Rand Fishkin, and found all his social profiles. It’s possible to find out so much about a person with simple searches.
Mike recommends using Followerwonk with Scraper for link prospecting. Scraper is a Chrome plugin. He also made another tool called KloutSkout. It grabs Twitter and Klout data about people very quickly. Klout is kind of stupid, but they get it right sometimes with their subject tags.
Another tool of Mike’s, SiteSkout, crawls a site and pulls down social metrics for it. At a glance, you can tell whether a site is worthwhile to you, and what the most popular pages are. This is important to know when doing your outreach. It also lets you know which piece of content to read because obviously you don’t want to read an entire site. You can also use it with Screaming Frog to enter urls as opposed to XML sitemaps.
Talk to people like people. Make your messages stand out. Don’t request links, especially not in the first e-mail. The goal is just to get a response. Context is king. Send e-mails as a person, not a company or team. Include the person’s name and use a salutation.
On Twitter, same thing. Everyone hates spam. Escalate quickly, as soon as it makes sense. One way to do this is to tweet to someone you want to engage “follow me so I can DM you.” It helps you build a rapport quickly. Participate in the subjects’ conversation. Don’t just jump in randomly because people will check your timeline and see the discontinuity.
Doesn’t always mean incentives. Can just be information. You know something they need to know. If you do have incentives, don’t just throw it out there. Make them work for it. Then maintain the rapport. Keep the conversation going. Don’t just drop them once you get what you need from them.
Using personae allows you to step away from abstracts and identify insights.
Keyword ownership means you can see which persona is performing better than the others, and then focus on that one to improve conversions. Keyword arbitrage is also important. Tracking keyword demographics allows attribution of future purchases to the original keyword.
Compiling all this data will also allow you to determine future behavior. If you have a good idea of what someone will buy, or what they want/need, you can target them to give them what they want. People tell you what they want every day through social media. Give it to them.
Unfortunately, Mike did not also end his session with a Hammer dance. Maybe we can get him to do it one more time before we all go home.
About the Author
Michelle Lowery is an ardent word nerd, but is also known to say "y'all" from time to time.