When you log in to your brand’s social account, you encounter an environment of virtual noise and chatter. If you are on social, ‘hearing’ happens by default – where you see and hear everything around you to an extent that you have awareness about the most important topics and conversations.
Listening, on the other hand, is an activity that requires your attention and concentration. It means you understand the sentiments behind the statements and get into a position where you are responding and not reacting.
Social listening is done for multiple purposes. It is to identify brand advocates and dissuader. It is to get feedback that you didn’t actively ask for. It is to know the questions that prospects have in mind about your product or services. But one of the most important reasons to do it is from an Online Reputation Management and SEO perspective. It is important to listen to your fans and haters and respond to both and turn the brand around for the better. Here are some reasons how social listening is good for your SEO game with Google
1. Social conversations feature in search results
Search isn’t what it used to be ten years back. Earlier you could search for ‘Mumbai hotel’ and get a list of hotels in Mumbai in your search result. Today you are more likely to type “Reviews for top hotels in Mumbai” and get answers from social chatter, Tripadvisor, Mouthshut and video walk-through and reviews on YouTube.
Other conversations about your brand could be happening on blogs and social forums. While you don’t have control over what’s being posted, listening to these are important as you need to ensure that the sentiment is largely positive. If needed, you’ll need to nudge the conversations to get desired results.
2. Being responsive to social queries shows Google you are active and that you care
Google loves fresh content, and so do we. You might have an answer on Quora which is a year old but if it still getting upvoted, Google thinks of it as fresh content. This is one of the main reasons, negative content takes ages to subside. The only way to tackle this is to have a constant onslaught of fresh, original content and upvotes which can pump up the positivity in the search results.
3. You can use social chatter to create your own FAQs and rank well
A lot of social chatter is around queries people have about your product or services. They could also be about the pain points around your product and how you can improve. It is great to get some impromptu feedback too. Once you identify a pattern based on your customer’s user journey, you can pin down their frequently asked questions and give them answers straight on your website. After optimization, your own page is likely to rank for your customer’s FAQ and it can help tremendously to mould their opinion about you.
4. It allows discovery of new keywords to optimize
People often don’t talk in the same language that brands envision them to. Your customers may be using short forms, similar words and even hashtags to describe your product and their thoughts around it. Once you identify these words, you can add them to your SEO keyword list. Plug them into a tool like Ubersuggest and it’ll be a sure fire way find out if these are isolated cases or a part of the frequent chatter around your products.
5. It’s a great source to identify potential link websites
As you track and monitor your brand on third party websites, it can help you identify influencers and content creators who could be potential sources for links. You can identify the people in the conversation and approach them as potential link building partners. They are already vested in your product. Asking them for their opinion via reviews, guest blogs or focus groups can make them feel that the brand is willing to listen to their opinion. This empowerment automatically nudges them to become brand advocates. In fact, even linkless brand mentions are also potential SEO gold.
6. Get a forecast on topic trends
Listening allows you to focus on your customer’s or prospects’ current area of interest. As the conversation changes, you’ll need to make slight adjustments to your product’s brand strategy. For example, until a few years back, people thought of vacations as a list of places to visit and things to do. Today, the conversation is increasingly about ‘travel’ instead of tourism and ‘experiences to consume’ instead of ‘sights to see’. Identifying this trend has now made many destination management companies to re-word their offering according to what their potential customers are looking for. Airbnb’s experiences is a great example of how a brand in the travel industry has created a whole new economy based on this emerging trend.
7. It helps to identify your competitors SEO strategy
Your competitors could be eavesdropping on your conversations online, just like you are spying on them. Some could even potentially hijack conversations. Take this instance where users are asking about products on Craftsvilla but Go4Ethnic, their competitor is trying to grab user attention hitching a ride on the question. Social listening is also about monitoring the chatter about your competitors, identify their influencer, and track and understand their strategy. It’ll ensure you can maintain the lead in your customer’s social visibility.
While we’ve given a lot of pointers on the positive effects of social on SEO, not doing it right can result in lost SEO visibility and traffic. Here are some of the potential downfalls you should avoid in your social strategy so that your SEO isn’t affected.
a. Not posting enough engaging content
New content indicates freshness. Content that is engaged with (liked, commented on and shared) shows that you are resonating with your audience. Both of these are SEO signals that overall contribute to your content ranking higher.
b. Not posting on G+
We know that G+ isn’t on priority in your social list but you have to know that Google still takes signals from G+ as a part of Serp ranking factors. Keep the posting up on G+ with good titles that resonate with your customers when they see it on search.
c. Not using social share buttons on your website
While this is basic hygiene, many people tend to miss out on the basics. Social share buttons are great ways for customers to engage with your content and drive back traffic to your site.
Social and SEO strategies work together in getting higher visibility and traffic via the content you create. While their integration sounds challenging, get all your key stakeholders in the same room to discuss how to explore ways to integrate into a common strategy.
Want to know how to do this?
Start with a conversation with our expert. We’ve created integrated social and SEO strategies successfully for several brands, contributing to their overall marketing and business goals. We can do this for you too. Find out how.
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