Marketers 'clue in' to customer chatter for better keywords, while fueling company social content for enhanced SEM

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Social media's impact on search marketing is growing as leading search engines incorporate these popular networks into results. On March 30, Google unveiled a new "+1" button, allowing users to recommend search results to friends across websites and SERPs. This comes after Bing rolled out a feature that expanded its social search capabilities to display real-time Twitter messages in its news section and simplified how to share stories on Facebook.


All of these developments point to the influence social media is now having on search results, and the need for marketers to leverage social to enhance their search marketing efforts.


"When we get involved in a conversation in the social media realm, we're seeing that invariably heightens awareness, and chatter leads to search behavior," says Ryan DeShazer, SVP director of search for GyroHSR.


A large majority of Gyro-HSR's clientele are b-to-b, a sector that often communicates with its own specialized industry jargon that an outsider might have trouble understanding. 
For this reason, the conversations taking place on social media sites can often be invaluable in terms of discovering potential niche keywords.


"We need to pick keyword fights that we can win," says DeShazer. "By clueing in to social media chatter at large and how the market is talking about the category, we're able to be relevant."


He gives the example of the term "cloud computing," which refers to a broad range of services and produces a huge number of search results. By examining the social media chatter, a marketer interested in this term could invest in paid search marketing under keywords and phrases "further down the long tail," such as "public cloud" or "private cloud." This adds a layer of context and specificity that provides the possibility of better results. 


Joelle Reizes, communications director for preventive health services company Life Line Screening, uses a similar strategy, developed with Fathom Online Marketing, which specializes in search marketing. The company uses the conversations on social media to enhance its keyword selections, targeting terms such as "vascular screenings" or "heart screenings," rather than just "health screenings."


Life Line Screening's main social media outlets are Facebook and a blog and discussion area on its website. These outlets can serve as CRM tools while also drawing in potential customers seeking advice or those who might feel nervous or unsure about health screenings. 


"The Facebook page gets people commenting that they're about to go to a screening or that they got their results back, and the experience wasn't as scary as they thought it would be," says Reizes. "It's nice to provide them with an outlet to voice their concerns." 


The company's key demographic is 40 years and older — 
a segment growing more savvy with search and social media sites. A study last year from Pingdom, a website monitoring firm, found that 32% of all social media users fell into age groups of 45 and older. 


Kurt Krejny, director of SEM best practices at Fathom, emphasizes that search ranking can be aided by cross-linking social media platforms, as well as promoting them in TV, print and radio advertising.


"If the blog has a lot of momentum, we make sure the other channels are visible on there," says Krejny. "If the client is active in email, with a newsletter that goes out to thousands of subscribers, we put a plug for social there."


Marketers can buy paid advertising on sites like Yelp, Citysearch or Google Places, but Krejny also urges clients to ask customers who post positive feedback on a company website or Facebook page to also post on those public review sites. n


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