business, marketing

SEO and Negative Keywords

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) a lot of time and effort is put into what keywords that companies and brands want their websites to show up for. Whether it be software, sporting goods or cleaning supplies, every industry has specific keywords that are necessary to show up for in order to be successful in that niche. Showing up for these keywords can be vital, especially if you have an online-only business and/or are just opening up shop and don’t have the luxury of word of mouth to galvanize your brand.

However, one tactic rarely mentioned (or mentioned far less often than I would like) is the implementation of negative keywords. Quite simply, adding negative keywords to your SEO strategy makes it impossible for your brand to show up for the particular keywords that you select. Much like how the software company wouldn’t want to show up for keywords consistent with the cleaning supplies industry and vice versa.

Once you know what keywords to target regularly (i.e. what you actually want to show up for) you will be able to reverse engineer and set up negative keywords. There is no limit on how many you can set up, and you don’t have to bid on them like regular keywords, since you are actively trying NOT to show up for them. Google Adwords, or whoever you use for your SEO, will simply take you out of the running for these keywords.

The bonus of this is that anyone coming from the wrong places clicking/engaging with your ads will no longer be targeted. Since these people were never real customers anyway, the wittling down will likely improve your conversion rates. It may sound counter intuitive, but once this happens, it will help to ensure that a higher percentage of your engagement are legitimate consumers of whatever it is that you’re putting out there, thus more thoroughly refining your target audience. The longer you have negative keywords in play, the better equipped you will be to catch other keywords that you are still actively showing up for but shouldn’t be. It should also help to give you a better picture of how your real keywords and ads are performing.

business, marketing, social media

Utilizing Paid Social Media

Social media has been a buzzword for quite some time now in the digital landscape, but paid social is a newer concept. Everyone wants to know what they should be doing on the social platforms, and which ones they should or shouldn’t be using. I like to distill it down.

There isn’t a wrong way to use social media. The bare minimum is definitely to have an account, and post with decent frequency across your channels. Obviously that isn’t enough, but it’s a start. If you have a good digital presence and post with regularity, but find yourself stuck from an engagement perspective, either in terms of raw numbers (likes, comments) or in your followers, it may be a good time to start looking at boosting your posts or initiating paid social media campaigns.

It is important to note that you don’t need to be struggling or even stagnating to use paid social media. You can think of it much like you think of any other campaign you may use; at its core it is advertising. Campaigns will look different on different platforms. Facebook gives you more opportunities to sponsor and boost posts, while Linkedin has a more robust ad campaign manager. Both give you all of the aforementioned options, however. Twitter also has all of these options, but is used mainly to sponsor and boost your posts or your account (from my understanding). As a disclaimer, my experience in paid social is from Linkedin and Facebook, not Twitter.

For a sponsored post, you may want to ask yourself some questions. What is it that you’re trying to promote? Is it something that people will be interested in and want to see? Are you solving a particular problem or posing a thought-provoking question? It’s important to consider how people will be interacting with your post, like sparking conversation and debate, or shedding light on a product offering. Another important facet: is it a one-off or a series? In other words, is what you’re saying a stand-alone post or could it be a string of posts? If it’s the latter an ad campaign may be more effective.

Ad campaigns follow more of an over-arching structure. You have a daily/weekly/monthly budget that you oversee, and pay less or more depending on how your target audience receives you. If the ads have a high click-through rate, you may be more open to opening up your budget, while low engagement may send you back to the drawing board to create more compelling content. At the very least, it should get you to re-consider where your prospects were missing you. Were they not relating to the message, or simply not seeing it? Maybe your target demo (for something like an event) is in a particular state, or people interested in a product could be in a specific industry, like engineering. You could refine this by targeting (at least on Linkedin) by job title or skillset.

It’s also important to note the differences in terms of word count when switching between platform and campaign. On Facebook and Linkedin, a sponsored post can be very lengthy. Meanwhile, a sponsored post on Twitter is still a slave to the (newly enlarged) 280 characters.

An ad campaign is even more limiting. On Linkedin, the headline for an ad campaign is 25 characters, while the description itself allots a whopping 75 characters. If you can say less and get your point across to draw people to a product or website, go for it. Otherwise I would stay away from an ad campaign, as the tiny logo and text requirements are too much to overcome if you have poor brand visibility and even poorer descriptive skills.

That said, you may be able to satisfy the word count without sacrificing, while displaying a clear messaging strategy that is suitable for 4 or 5 ads. Ads can be switched out or run against each other, as long as you have one campaign running, only one ad (the one performing the best at that time) will display.

Who knows if I’ve described your current (or potential) social media strategy, but hopefully you’ll be able to take a tidbit from here and apply it whenever you get the inkling to go the paid route.