Countless blog posts are dedicated to the importance of using social media to boost website search engine placements. Far fewer experts emphasize the value in using search engine optimization (SEO) to boost reach on social media. Many marketers don’t recognize the value of driving organic search traffic to their social media properties, because they never invested the time and resources to do so. However, you can actually generate a lot of exposure by choosing the right long-tail keywords and optimizing your profiles accordingly.
The value of long-tail keywords
The principles of optimizing your social media profiles for SEO are similar to those for other web properties. The conversion goals are often different, but the value of organic search traffic to your social media properties can’t be ignored.
Keep in mind that your social media profiles reside on sites with a much higher domain authority than your own website. In theory, this means that your social media profiles should rank for much more competitive keywords.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. Google places at least as much emphasis on domain relevancy as domain authority. Major news sites and other information portals still rank for a wide range of highly-competitive terms in a variety of niches, because they have high trust scores, in addition to their strong domain authorities. Trust scores for social media domains aren’t as high, because they are often littered with spam posts and misleading content.
Most social media websites don’t have a niche focus, so they aren’t ideal for targeting extremely competitive keywords. This means that you should try capitalizing off of the high domain authority by targeting less competitive keywords. Long-tail keywords, which are more niche phrases using three to four words, will be easier to rank for on social media platforms because it is harder for Google to determine relevancy between them and other domains. This means that if you choose the right long-tail keywords, you will be able to drive more traffic to your social media pages.
The Limits of Google Keyword Planner for Keyword Research
The Google Keyword Planner is the most commonly used resource for keyword research. However, it has some significant limitations. It limits the queries for low-budget advertisers and free users. The AdWords team recognizes that many marketers use the tool solely for SEO and don’t bother running AdWords ads. The results will probably be skewed towards high-value money keywords with high costs per click (CPC), because Google is seeking a profit. Since your conversion goal with social media is usually to attract followers rather than make a sale, the most appropriate keywords will probably not be listed in these queries. The other more-obvious issue is that around 20% of keywords have never been searched before.
Unless you are a big-budget AdWords advertiser, you will need to think of another way to find long-tail keywords. The good news is that there are other keyword research tools that will help you find a broader range of long-tail keywords.
Great Keyword Research Alternatives
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest Keyword Tool is a popular alternative to the Keyword Planner. There are couple of reasons that Ubersuggest is a superior alternative:
- You aren’t required to login to Ubersuggest, while Google Keyword Planner requires a login.
- You can pull from a larger list of keywords for each query.
- You can get information on your competitors’ SEO and pay-per-click keyword strategies. Evaluating competitor sites can be a good way to identify more long-tail keywords to use.
- It gives you the exact amount of searches, and not a range.
SEMRush is another great keyword research tool. It has a number of latent semantic indexing capabilities to identify long-tail keywords. It also provides an overview of all keywords any website is ranking for. Using this tool to monitor competitors can help you discover new keywords to target. Any phrases that get at least ten searches a year will be listed under this tool.
Market Samurai is another keyword research tool that has been around for years. It doesn’t just help you identify new keyword opportunities, it also helps you assess the weaknesses of your competitors’ approach with various keywords, which you can exploit to boost your own rankings. Market Samurai subscriptions also come with several detailed video tutorials.
Another way to find long-tail keywords is by reverse engineering other web properties’ SEO strategies. Check tools such as SEMRush to determine which keywords competitors are ranking for. This means that you can find loads of long-tail keywords that aren’t listed in the Google Keyword Planner.
You should also pay close attention to the suggested search results while using Google for similar search queries. Many of these queries have only recently started trending, so Google has not collected enough data yet to list them in the Keyword Planner. This means that you will be finding an untapped source of keywords that many of your competitors will miss.
While you are looking at potential long-tail keywords, make sure that you categorize them according to the web properties that they are most appropriate for. Some long-tail keywords will be higher value, so they should be used for your main website rather than your social media profiles. Long-tail keywords should be used on your social media profiles if they cater to people searching for information, as opposed to more complex conversion goals.
In general, you probably don’t want to optimize your social media profiles for key words containing the words “free”, “cheap”, “download”, “buy” or their equivalents. Words such as “best” may also not be ideal, depending on the context of other words the query, because those words are so commonly used. Long-tail keywords will allow you to target smaller niches and drive more traffic your way.