Since the release of Google’s “Hummingbird” algorithm the use of unique keyword phrases has become more important than ever for brands. While Google AdWords remains a great resource to find the right topics for your content you will need to drill down more for better exposure online.
Should you still use basic keywords?
In the past brands have been able to include focused keywords for their target market and topic. The problem is that these have become very widely used, and search queries have become more conversational.
The goal of today’s brand is to find keyword phrases that are not too competitive. The needs and desires of your readers are now the new focus for content. There are a few steps you can take to hone in on key phrases that stand out in search and to your readers.
Social media search. Since search engines are now influenced by what users are looking for on social media this is a good place to begin to learn about your brand’s latest conversations. This can include questions, trending hashtags, and feedback to you or your competitor. Take advantage of tools that allow you to monitor activity on your networks, which will provide new keyword phrases based on the tweets and posts.
Find out what’s trending in your market. Track the content and keywords your competition is using on influencer websites like LinkedIn, Klout, Topsy, and paper.li. This can provide information on the most important subjects, and help your brand come up with keyword phrases that take on a new spin.
Take notes from education websites. Online courses are very popular these days, and offer a variety of topics to choose from. Chances are is that your brand can gather a lot of ideas in your target market based on the course offerings and descriptions. Many of these listings will have the phrases labelled in bold type, which makes finding the right combination of keywords easy.
Learn what questions are being asked. Q&A websites are a great resource to not only find new topic ideas, but gain insights into the pain points of your brand’s niche. Not only can you gather new keyword phrases, but your brand can also benefit from this free target market research method.
Finding the right keyword phrases with these simple methods can provide ideas you can use to help your brand stand out in search, which will attract more leads to your website. Keep track of your findings on a spreadsheet and check in each month on the latest hashtags, questions, and conversations as these can change quickly in the online arena.
One of the biggest advantages that Facebook offers to advertisers is the ability to conduct precise interest targeting. Brands have the ability to target their Facebook updates directly to precise niche audiences based on people’s interests that they have shared with Facebook.
There are many benefits to advertisers from precise interest targeting — finding new fans, engaging with a wider pool of Facebook users, recruiting brand evangelists and increasing conversion rates — but one of the biggest benefits that is still being discovered by many advertisers is how precise interest targeting can complement brands’ native advertising strategies.
As Facebook Vice President of Ads Product Marketing and Atlas Solutions Brian Boland explained in a recent blog post, the changes to organic reach are happening as part of the company’s effort to maintain a strong user experience with relevant content that people want to see — the average Facebook user could potentially see 1,500 stories at once on their News Feed, of which Facebook’s algorithm only shows them 300 that are deemed to be most relevant to the user’s interests. Facebook is offering brands less organic reach, but it is hopefully instead presenting an even more targeted opportunity to reach exactly the audience that is most relevant for the brands.
What do these Facebook changes mean for native advertising? It’s actually a perfect fit. The advantage of native advertising is that it gives brands the ability to build relationships on a deeper level with audiences that are most likely to be interested in the content.
While banner ads were about scale — “buying eyeballs” by putting a message in front of as many people as possible, in the hope that some small percentage would convert — native ads are about depth. Native advertising encourages brands to develop engaging content that consumers want to interact with and share. Instead of putting native ads in front of as many people as possible, the best results from native ads often come from going deeper and building credibility with niche interest-based audiences.
Facebook provides the capability to run advertising in-feed and/or in the mobile News Feed, which is a great alignment to native advertising that appears more as sponsored content within the overall News Feed.
Many advertisers complained when Facebook changed its organic reach percentages. But this is a positive thing for native advertising. Instead of trying to reach their Facebook audience via organic content (which only a small percentage of their audience will see), brands are now encouraged by Facebook to promote native ads/sponsored content and reach a highly targeted segment of their target audience based on their stated interests.
One example of how to use native advertising to pursue a niche audience/interest-driven Facebook marketing strategy is Mountain Dew. This caffeinated beverage is known for being affiliated with extreme sports (like skateboarding), high-energy music and youth culture and lifestyle trends. Mountain Dew created an online magazine called Green Label that publishes content related to skateboarding, music and video games that might be of interest to Mountain Dew drinkers.
In this Facebook post, Mountain Dew promoted an interview with professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez that was published on its Green Label platform. This is a great example of how brands can create native advertising content that is relevant to their customers’ broader interests (not just “about your product or service”). Facebook makes it possible to boost each individual Facebook post and pay to reach a wider audience based on people’s interests — for example, Mountain Dew could promote the Paul Rodriguez interview to people who have an interest in skateboarding. Or the company could promote other music-related posts to reach fans of a particular band or style of music.
There are lots of possible combinations for almost any brand — create content that will be interesting and valuable to their audience’s niche interests, and then promote that content on Facebook by using “boosted posts” and other highly targeted Facebook advertising.
Advertisers need to think more in terms of niche audiences and develop strategies for how to reach people based on their other interests — not only their interests that are directly related to their products. Not every single person on Facebook is going to see their posts, nor do they all want to see those posts — the key is to create content that speaks more immediately to a highly focused audience, and then pay to reach that audience.
The decline of organic reach is nothing to fear. Instead, Facebook is presenting a new challenge: The social network is requiring a much more efficient and accurate advertising experience. Now brands have to adapt their thinking and adjust their strategies to realize this opportunity.
Steve Wick is the founder and president of San Francisco-based MobSoc Media and a former Accenture partner with 21 years of experience in technology and strategy practice areas. He has served a range of clients including Cisco Systems, Intel, HP, Agilent, Boeing, FedEx, Dow Chemical, Visa, Boise Cascade and Microsoft. He has been an entrepreneur since 2008 with the founding of FanNewscast, a software-as-a-service company that enables custom content marketing applications for brands, and the recent formation of MobSoc Media.