The business of being social: The importance of keywords

We run through the key ways you can incorporate keywords into your online platforms to increase your start-up’s presence

As a consumer it’s likely that when you are looking for a new product or service you turn to Google or another search engine (maybe even Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and hit their search bars with some all-important ‘keywords’ – or sometimes a ‘key phrase’.

When people search online, they use just a few keywords to find what they are looking for. Therefore, if you want to be found by those seeking your products and services, it’s important that you provide a consistent and optimised presence online across all the portals that you are represented on (website, Facebook, blog, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.).

Keywords are the ‘DNA’ of your business. They are of paramount importance for search engine optimisation (SEO), online social platform profiles, news feeds, website content, pay-per-click campaigns, and building communities on social media. Discovering your keywords is key, so let’s take a look at ways of exploring and determining your keywords.

Discovering your keywords

When you created your website, you will ideally have engaged an SEO expert or team to ensure that your website platform would be as optimised as possible for web searches.

The SEO team would be fully conversant with keywords and would (usually) have undertaken a keyword exercise to identify your keywords in order for them to populate your website with relevant information. Other less scientific methods you may wish to explore include the following:

  • Ask your colleagues and business associates to list the top five words that apply to your business.
  • Ask your customers to do the same (How did you find us? Which words did you type into a Google search to find us?). This could be a manual or automated process.
  • Look at Google Analytics to see what keywords people use. If you have Google Analytics running on your site, you can review the keywords people have used to find you, following this route: traffic sources, sources, referral, search, organic.
  • This will show you a list of the words, in order of relevance, that people have used to find your services. Undertake this process regularly to watch for any shifts in keyword trends.
  • Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find the most popular searches around your products or services. If you are stuck for ideas, Google’s Keyword Tool offers you a free resource to explore.

The tool provides you with traffic information related to specific keywords, so you might want to experiment with specific keywords to see if you gain more traction by optimising your content with high-traffic keywords that are relevant to your product or service.

Keep monitoring keyword activity via Analytics and keyword tools so that you are continually optimising. You may want to optimise different facets of your business with different keywords, so explore and be consistent across your content in line with your specific objectives.

Make your communications count

Clearly, one way to make your communications count is to ensure that they are keyword optimised. However, while you want to optimise your content so that it’s leveraged for search engines, first and foremost you are writing to engage people.

Experts agree that when you are promoting your services and writing your email, sales letter or website promotional material, Facebook update, etc., the key activity is to ‘plan your writing’. 90% of the thinking should happen before those eager fingers start tapping at the keypad.

The focus of your communication is to grow ‘share of mind’, to get people to know you, like you, trust you – and, ultimately, do business with you. So let’s take a look at some elements you need to consider when crafting your communications.

  • Focus on the objective. What’s the end game? Ask yourself the question, ‘What do I want my communication to achieve?’ Consider this and then work backwards, asking yourself key questions such as, ‘How do we best communicate that?’ Simply put, start with the end in mind.
  • Be yourself. Personalise the communication as much as you can and demonstrate a sound knowledge of your audience’s business dynamics and needs as well as a clear understanding of the obstacles they face. If the reader believes that you have empathy with their situation they are far more likely to continue reading. Be human!
  • Don’t talk too much about yourself. Readers are far more interested in what you can do for them than they are in what you do. Focus on the opportunities and benefits your products and services offer them.
  • Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ as much as possible and minimise ‘we’ and ‘us’. This will warm up your communications considerably. Avoid words such as difficult, fail, failure, hard, loss, lose, obligation, try, sold, worry, cost and bad. (Consumer psychology research has tested communications littered with such words and found that they have a negative impact on your audience.) Use positive words – such as results, discover, approve, deserve, easy, proven, save, trust, truth, understand, value and vital – when you can.
  • Use sub-heads, bullet points and highlighted or underlined text to convey key points. Be sure that your key messages don’t get lost in a sea of text.
  • Communicate a very clear proposition. Have you seen the ‘Dollar Shave’ video? We love it for a number of reasons. It’s humorous, it’s simple; but, very cleverly, it gets the value proposition across very quickly. In the first sentence we hear ‘I’m the founder of Dollar Shave Club and for a dollar a month we’ll send your razors straight to your door’ – a very simple proposition, said very succinctly. Whether your medium is video, written, visual or auditory – keep the proposition simple.
  • Make it easy for people to engage. Have clear ‘calls to action’ and very clear instructions and signposts as to what you want people to do. If it’s a video, include your website URL or Facebook Page address at the end of the video (depending on where you want to send your readers). If you want them to download an eBook or guide, make the instructions very clear and simple to follow. If you want them to share something, include social sharing icons in obvious places. The more instructions you provide, and the simpler and clearer you make the instructions, the better.

Content that engages

Providing engaging content isn’t just about making it simple for people to engage with your content. In today’s information-rich world, we need to stand out from the crowd and create content that resonates with our audiences and compels them to share.

Stories have always created a strong human connection. From stories told round a campfire to being tucked up in bed listening to our parents read us the dark wonders of Hans Christian Anderson and the brothers Grimm, the engagement of storytelling is timeless. When considering how to create content that compels others to share your content, and therefore amplify your message, another element to think of in your blend of content is the stories you can create about experiences around your products and services.

Let’s take a look at some storytelling ideas:

  • Educate others about the range of solutions you provide. You may already have FAQs or user manuals/guides in place, but they may be pretty dry and unappealing. Challenge yourself and/or your team to think about how you could create an educational story about your products or services. You could perhaps create a character who has a specific problem; you could write in dialogue or use an ‘agony aunt’ style. Whatever style you use, creating a story provides a warmer and more compelling tale than a dry list of FAQs that run on for pages and pages.
  • Share real-life examples of what’s working for others. Case studies are actually perfect stories. In a case study you have the opportunity to use real-life experiences, from both your perspective and the client’s point of view. If the information is sensitive and your client does not want their name revealed, you can simply use a generic term instead. With a case study you can explain what was happening before your involvement, how you managed the project and the outcomes. A beginning, a middle and an end – the perfect structure for a successful story. You could also include a ‘to be continued’ element so that you can keep adding to the story as things progress further.
  • Share expertise and thought leadership. Your opinion and viewpoint can be turned into a story. Let’s say there’s something really topical in the news or trending on social networks around which you can create a story. This enables you to share your personality and your viewpoint and showcase your experience and expertise in a specific area – thus growing your credibility as a thought leader. You could interview someone, have a Q&A session or undertake a piece of research and build a story around that.

These examples are just a few ways in which you can create compelling stories to share as part of your content strategy. There are some wonderful bloggers you should think about following. Seth Godin is a great storyteller, and his daily blog is always widely shared. Why? For the very reason that he’s sharing compelling, thought-provoking and educational stories.

A key message here is to get creative with your content creation opportunities. Don’t hold back on how you can leverage storytelling in your social media marketing and content strategy. After all you are what you share, so be sure to make your content as compelling as possible.

This extract was taking from The Business of Being Social (Second edition) by Michelle Carvill and David Taylor. For more advice on using social media and content in your business, check out our first extract on The power of blogging.

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