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Are you using social media for search keyword research?

Google took away your keyword data. I know how awful that was. But what are you doing about it? Yes, you can bemoan your fate, but you must also dust yourself off and find alternatives. Are you using social media listening as one of them?

If all you’ve ever done with social listening is detect PR crises, you are missing a lot. If you’ve used only free tools, you might be wondering how they can help you with search keyword research. Yes, using more accurate paid social listening tools is better, but even the free tools can help. Here’s how.

Broadening keywords from the popular ones to the so-called long tail keywords is one of the main ways you can get more traffic from search. Yes, you can use keyword research tools (including free ones, such as Google Keyword Planner) to find related words to the ones you are currently using, but there are benefits in going beyond keyword research tools.

Keyword research tools typically find closely-related terms, because they work by analyzing which keywords searchers enter in successions–they might start with one and then gradually move to another, or might start broadly and get more specific. But even the smartest searchers are refining their searches according to what they need right now.

Social media listening can go broader. It is not unusual to see conversations in social media that capture multiple uses for products, find conversations at multiple stages of the buyer’s journey, or that cross multiple personas. Adding all of the resulting keywords to your search campaigns can often result in much broader campaigns that let you keep the words that are working and jettison the rest.

And while paid tools work better, if you have a lean budget (or none at all), even the free ones can give you lots of ideas that you wouldn’t get from keyword research tools. You just might find that it takes you longer with free tools, because they find a lot of irrelevant stuff that you have to ignore, especially when some of your existing keywords have multiple senses of meaning, and you care about only one of its definitions–maybe not even the most popular one.

It’s more work, but it’s work that pays off. If you aren’t using social listening in your search keyword research, ask yourself why.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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