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Where Search, Social Media Content, and Content Marketing Meet

social-media-content-search-intersectionOne of the topics I hear content marketers ask most about is the combination of SEO and social media content. It’s not surprising, considering how critical those two aspects are to getting your content found.

Last week, the Content Marketing World team (#cmworld) had a Tweet Chat focused on search, social, and content marketing. A big thanks to Lee Odden (@LeeOdden) who was our featured guest (along with Joe Pulizzi). The conversation was fast and furious, but I found that there were many themes running throughout. While you may be familiar with the heated debate between SEO and content marketing, most participants were in agreement on many of the points we discussed.

Want to learn more?

People come before search engines

Without question, you should write for your audience instead of for search engines.

Ask yourself these questions about your audience:

  • What do they want to know about?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What words are they using to search for information?

Figure out what words / phrases buyers use — instead of focusing on product terms. #cmworld

— Ardath Albee (@ardath421) July 9, 2013

Most marketers forget this — what is the outcome for the reader? What is the pain point you are solving? #cmworld

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) July 9, 2013

People search like they ask questions. Make sure you create meaningful content around important questions. #cmworld

— Angela Dunn (@blogbrevity) July 9, 2013

@CMIContent A1: Distill customer interest along buy cycle into keywords/topics that inspire content & optimization. Refine repeat. #cmworld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

 Not only is this simply good business practice, but participants agreed that better quality content is critical for Google, regardless of its algorithm: 

A search strategy that has to change due to an algorithm update is a failed strategy to start with. #cmworld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

If you focus on epic content that your customers/prospects share, to heck with Google’s algorithm. Great stories win! #cmworld

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) July 9, 2013

Stop chasing the algorithms and you won’t have to drastically alter your search strategy. #cmworld #duh

— Katherine Griwert (@kgriwert) July 9, 2013

But, Lee Odden reminds everyone to pay attention to the algorithms as well:

Keep in mind, even the best quality, customer-centric approach should heed changes in search. Smart SEO works! #cmworld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

Search and social are tied together

Everyone agreed that search and social are closely tied together:

Can you honestly look at search separately from Social today? I don’t think so. #cmworld

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) July 9, 2013

Social is jelly, SEO is peanut butter, & content marketing is the bread that holds it all together 🙂 #CMWorld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

That said, there are slightly different approaches for each.

In search, you are often optimizing for long-tail keywords that people are searching for. However, you may not want to make some common terms a high priority — particularly if there is a lot of competition for them. This is why marketers often focus on keywords that are more specific and have less search volume, yet are easier to rank for (and, chances are, the audiences who come across your content will be more relevant to your business).

Compare this with optimizing your content for search, where you need to use common terms that people are monitoring via news alerts, Twitter, etc. How do you balance the two objectives?

Search engines consider social signals, so getting your content shared will also help with search:

Useful content shared on social networks helps people & provides a signal for search engines. Win Win Win. #CMWorld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

Ideas cross boundaries / channels — If people like/share your content it will show higher in search results. #cmworld

— Ardath Albee (@ardath421) July 9, 2013

@CMIContent Social shares are important to how well a site does in search, and content is (or should be) shareable. #cmworld

— Kristen Hicks (@atxcopywriter) July 9, 2013

Different content may be better suited for social vs. search optimization:

Search phrases express specific intent to find. Social topics expect interaction or reaction. #CMWorld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

@leeodden Search only reaches people who know they want to find the info. Social reaches people who want it, but don’t know it yet. #CMWorld

— Stephanie Walton (@StephLynette) July 9, 2013

Both social and SEO need to start with a solid content strategy:

Search, Social, Lead Gen — it all starts with a defined content strategy today. Most marketers skip this stage 😉 #cmworld

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) July 9, 2013

Optimize images and videos for search

While many marketers have at least a quasi-process in place for optimizing text, such as blog posts, it’s important to also optimize images and videos:

People underestimate the power of optimizing images/videos. Big opportunity. #cmworld

— Angela Dunn (@blogbrevity) July 9, 2013

Key: Tagging and adding relevant copy so important for video and infographics. Help Google discover your content. #cmworld

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) July 9, 2013

Create transcripts to take advantage of SEO

Another way to take advantage of search is to create transcripts of your video and audio content:

Whenever possible, include transcripts for video or audio, and always alt tag those images. #cmworld

— Erika (@SFerika) July 9, 2013

Transcribing videos is also useful for people who can’t watch the video. Helps with search, too. #cmworld

— Christoph Trappe (@CTrappe) July 9, 2013

Video can be limiting. The audio part prevents many business users consuming it. Me, I want to quickly ‘scan’ video like text! #CMWorld

— Phil Ayres (@consected) July 9, 2013

Content, social and search will continue to play together

Lastly, we asked participants their prediction on the future of SEO. People agree that it should continue to be tied with content and social — and may even be part of the content team:

As long as content can be found through the act of searching, there will be an opportunity for optimization. #CMWorld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

@CMIContent The term SEO may get swallowed by #contentmarketing, but the importance of being discovered by search will remain. #CMWorld

— Kristen Hicks (@atxcopywriter) July 9, 2013

Prediction alert: SEO and Social roles start reporting into Content role in enterprises. This is happening now. #cmworld

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) July 9, 2013

As Lee Odden so aptly states,  you need to understand social, search and content to have the greatest impact:  

Content easily found but confusing is of no value. Neither is excellent content no one can find. #cmworld

— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013

Want to learn about and share info on content marketing for vertical markets? Join Joe Pulizzi and Content Marketing World speaker Mitch Joel today at 12 p.m. EST for our next Twitter Chat on content marketing for the Finance industry. Follow the conversation @CMIContent and #cmworld

Cover image via Bigstock