You aren’t still stuffing keywords into your metadata and buying links on low-quality sites, are you? Those tactics are so 2002.

“If you haven’t noticed by now, there is an overarching theme behind the SEO trends for 2017: improving the experience for your users,” WooRank’s Content Maestro Greg recently wrote in a post about how the SEO profession is evolving. “Which makes sense, since Google’s core responsibility is to connect users to the information, brands, products, answers, etc. that they’re looking for.”

Social media, on the other hand, is where audience members interact most with brands. While the direct impact of “social signals” on search rankings continues to be a hotly debated issue and a mysterious work in progress, one thing’s for sure: There’s a lot you can learn from the engagement that your brand sees on social media that you can use to improve your SEO strategy.

It’s not like social media is going away anytime soon, either. Its usage continues to climb in the around the world. Between 2008 and 2016, the percentage of people with a social media profile in the United States grew from 24% to 78%. On a global scale, social media has an estimated 1.96 billion users, which is expected to continue grow through 2018.

And yet, marketers are often at a loss for what to do with all of the information at their fingertips from social media.

Here are three tricks to turn your audience engagement on social media into insights that can inform your SEO strategies and help you grow your business.

1. Get Yourself a Social Media Dashboard

When it comes to social media metrics, it’s important not to get sucked into the rabbit hole, unable to find your way back out. Track engagement on the post level all you like – just make sure you maintain easy access to the broad view of your engagement. Instead of spending hours logging in and out of each platform you work with to see what’s working and what isn’t, what’s trending and who’s engaging,* create a dashboard that gives you a the big picture*.

Cyfe, an-all-one analytics dashboard, makes this type of thing easy. Using your choice of both pre-built and custom widgets, you can track your social media activity from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more from a single location.

Follow whatever metrics are most important to you for your current goals.

Tips

  • Look to your top performing social posts to inform better content creation moving forward. Your social media metrics will help you understand what keywords and phrases are common to your top performing social posts.
  • Try to create content that speaks to those topics and uses those specific phrases.

Social media metrics will help you:

  • Understand your audience and what they want to see
  • What keywords and phrases are common to your top performing social posts

This is clearly the way to go when optimizing for semantic search, because these are phrases that your buyer personas are most likely to use when searching. Knowing and using your audience’s keywords helps you to speak their language. You can know all you want about their thoughts, fears, thoughts and desires, but if you don’t know how to express these things in the words that your best prospects actually use, you’re less likely to drive sales.

And even if these phrases aren’t used as search queries, when people see the phrases appearing in page titles among the results for other searches, they’ll still be more likely to click through. These are SEO benefits associated with a holistic view of social performance regardless of specific social channel.

When you speak like your customers, describing their problems in language they use, the content will resonate better and your bounce rates will drop, increasing your rankings. And, you’ll provide a better user experience, thereby increasing your conversion rates.

2. Find Insights in Your Customer Reviews

Online reviews are an important tool for monitoring brand reputation. According to the Nielsen Trust in Advertising Report, the most credible product endorsements are those that come from people we actually know in real life. But trust extends beyond those in our inner circles. About 66% of respondents said say they trust consumer opinions posted online.

Image source: Neilsen Trust in Advertising Report

Getting customers to write reviews can greatly increase your exposure, but don’t get too fixated on making sure every review is glowing – even bad reviews can indirectly increase conversions. Negative reviews can teach be helpful and tell us a lot about our business, our SEO and our customers. Harness the power of negative reviews by understanding these points:

  • Bad reviews do not necessarily equal bad businesses.
  • Negative reviews* can make good reviews look *more trustworthy, and improve your brand image when you respond appropriately.
  • Bad reviews help the wrong customers self-select out of what you’re selling, allowing you to focus more on those who are interested in what you have to offer.

What’s more, when it comes to SEO specifically, reviews give marketers a powerful opportunity to enhance click-throughs from SERPs through the magic of “rich snippets.”

Search rankings are partially based on your click-through rates, so the strategic use of rich snippets can help improve your site’s overall ranking.

3. Analyze the Demographics of Your Engaged Audience Members

On the most basic level, good SEO is really about connecting directly and meaningfully with your intended audiencethe human side of SEO. All the SEO and content strategy in the world falls flat if you aren’t reaching the right prospects. And sometimes the nuances can be subtle. Having solid personas helps you analyze your engagement data to see if your SEO and content strategies are attracting the right people.

To this end, developing “buyer persona” profiles can be extremely helpful. This is essentially a fictional representation of who your ideal audience member is – looking at the traits that are common to your most loyal existing customer base. If you develop everything around this persona – writing your content as if you were speaking to him or her, you’re likely to find it easier to make that human connection, which is so important in SEO as well as conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Careful analysis of your demographic data will help you understand if you are reaching the right age, gender and interests. Access to this information is pretty easy, you just need to follow these steps:

  1. Sign into your Google Analytics account
  2. Navigate to your property and view
  3. Choose the reporting tab
  4. Selecting either Audience > Demographics or Audience > Interests

The demographics overview report gives you a high-level view of your audience and lets you drill down for more details. For example, you can use the Segments module to only look at site visits that involved sales conversions, or only those who were initially referred to you by social channels. With this information, you can create more targeted content and ad campaigns to increase your profit and decrease wasteful marketing resources.

If you haven’t already done so, develop some solid audience personas and use them to inform your SEO plans. To create personas, look for as much information as possible about your clientele. Social media history is a great place to start, but you’ll also want to take a look at any registration and login details, email lists, purchase history and website analytics data to help you see who your audience is.

Once you have the information in hand, you should aim to create two to four persona documents. You can consider one of these to be your primary persona, if there’s one that particularly sticks out over the course of your research as someone most similar to the majority of your most valuable clients.

Your persona should answer basics like:

  • Who are they? (Age, location, gender, education, job title)
  • What’s their environment like? When and where are they using your site? What device are they using? How do they discover you? Where else do they consume content? What other companies do they do business with?
  • What tasks are they trying to accomplish on your site? What motivates them? What’s their desired outcome?

Give each of your personas a name or a nickname and a photo. This helps solidify their image in your head, so you can tailor communications easier. Your social media analytics data can help you answer most of these questions… and fill in blanks where other data lacks.

Dive deeper into your audience reports and measure the following behaviors:

  • Visitor return
  • What systems your audience is using
  • How mobile access plays into your visitors
  • How users flow through the site.

This data will help to improve conversations and engagement.

So Many Signals, So Little Time

Making sense out of the sea of engagement data is possible, as long as you’re using a strategic approach that gives you actionable guidance. With the right perspective on your social signals, it’ll be far easier to ensure that your SEO efforts are actually making a difference.