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Google took away your keyword data. I know how awful that was. But what are you doing about it? Yes, you can bemoan your fate, but you must also dust yourself off and find alternatives. Are you using social media listening as one of them?

If all you’ve ever done with social listening is detect PR crises, you are missing a lot. If you’ve used only free tools, you might be wondering how they can help you with search keyword research. Yes, using more accurate paid social listening tools is better, but even the free tools can help. Here’s how.

Broadening keywords from the popular ones to the so-called long tail keywords is one of the main ways you can get more traffic from search. Yes, you can use keyword research tools (including free ones, such as Google Keyword Planner) to find related words to the ones you are currently using, but there are benefits in going beyond keyword research tools.

Keyword research tools typically find closely-related terms, because they work by analyzing which keywords searchers enter in successions–they might start with one and then gradually move to another, or might start broadly and get more specific. But even the smartest searchers are refining their searches according to what they need right now.

Social media listening can go broader. It is not unusual to see conversations in social media that capture multiple uses for products, find conversations at multiple stages of the buyer’s journey, or that cross multiple personas. Adding all of the resulting keywords to your search campaigns can often result in much broader campaigns that let you keep the words that are working and jettison the rest.

And while paid tools work better, if you have a lean budget (or none at all), even the free ones can give you lots of ideas that you wouldn’t get from keyword research tools. You just might find that it takes you longer with free tools, because they find a lot of irrelevant stuff that you have to ignore, especially when some of your existing keywords have multiple senses of meaning, and you care about only one of its definitions–maybe not even the most popular one.

It’s more work, but it’s work that pays off. If you aren’t using social listening in your search keyword research, ask yourself why.


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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, Revealed Context, and SoloSegment. Mike is the author of three books on digital marketing, an instructor at Rutgers Business School and a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. He is also a Certified Speaking Professional.

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