canadian search awards finalist

Best Use of Social Media Category Finalist – Canadian Search Awards

UPDATE: We won!

We are proud to announce that we have been selected as finalists in the 2020 Canadian Search Awards for the category “Best Use of Social Media in a Search Campaign”. On September 17 we will learn who the winner is.

The good news notification that we made the 2020 Canadian Search Awards shortlist

Organic Search and Organic Social: a Match Made in Heaven

We know that SEO and organic social are a perfect fit. They’re both organic. One pushes traffic (social), while the other (organic search) pulls traffic with on-page technical SEO.

We’re not sure if you would call this a system or an engine, but whatever it is, it sucks and blows at the same time. We have heard that’s a no-no if you’re testifying (you can’t have it both ways), but when you’re building traffic as part of a search campaign it is A-Okay.

In our organic dual exhaust ecosystem, social media is a force multiplier: organic traffic to a given target page doubles when you compare it to the amount of traffic you would get if you just used SEO.

Google Analytics includes two organic traffic sources.

This force multiplier can be represented by 1+1=3, which is a nice formula to get a bunch of important metrics moving in the right direction:

  • Visibility (aka keyword/search term rankings)
  • Unique visits
  • Pages / session
  • Time spent on page

If you have employed a landing page strategy on a given target page, it is likely that the traffic increases will also bring conversions because you have two types of visitors: 1) organic searchers who are “in-market” (i.e. they are actively looking for whatever it is you are selling) and social visitors who, presumably, have come from one of your social channels.

“We have measured the impact of Paid Instagram ads on organic search, and, although not a part of this campaign, I can tell you Instagram has a significant and positive effect on organic search.”

Steve Yanor, Managing Director, Sky Alphabet Social Media Inc.

We love campaigns that make the most of these two organic channels. Our entry in this year’s 2020 Canadian Search Awards awards is one example where you can see how hundreds of strategic Twitter posts can improve the visibility of a few keywords in a portfolio of related (themed) keywords.

The Search + Social Campaign Entry

We have had past success with improving the visibility of new web pages and entire websites using only social media traffic.

Our own agency still relies on the search and social combination. But it wasn’t always that way. For years, we blissfully laid out in the baking sun on page 10. Honestly, we didn’t know any better.

Until we switched to Greengeeks and took control of the SEO. Then we started to see steady progress. We discovered that if we blasted Twitter with tweets linking to our website (all great articles, of course) and did a good job with the on-site technical SEO, that we could make progress in the SERPs.

But it was not easy.

And it was not fast.

We view the difference between organic social and paid social like this:

The difference between organic and paid search: one is much harder than the other.
The difference between paid and organic search is the degree of difficulty.

Compared to paid social, organic social is hard work. The same is true for paid versus organic search. Paying for search results is easy. Ranking a website so it shows up in organic search is hard.

But if you can rank organically, it’s a beautiful thing. That’s because you get a map listing (a.k.a. the local pack) and an organic listing. Add a PPC ad and you have three impressions on one page. That’s tough to beat. It’s smart and it works.

Now, we’re not suggesting anyone has an easy job in digital. But with paid search and paid social you sort of have to guarantee results. You’re paying for them! With organic, not so much. Clients have to trust that it will all work out.

And if the strategy is wrong, it probably will not.

The Social Side of Our Campaign (100% Organic)

Twitter is superior at driving organic traffic to websites. A lot of people will disagree, but that is our experience. The chart below shows that Twitter is better at driving repeat visits. There are many reasons for this.

The primary reason we prefer Twitter is because the other platforms don’t encourage leaving the platforms to visit external web pages.

Instagram is notorious for slowing down external links so that people in doomscroll mode lose interest. They don’t want you leaving unless you are paying them. Facebook and LinkedIn are a little bit better but Twitter is in a league of its own. The thing is, you wouldn’t know that 200 people clicked a link in a Twitter post unless you looked at the analytics.

For this particular campaign, we sent 544 tweets. This meant tweeting up to a dozen tweets per day, every day, for three months. That’s a lot of tweets!

We mixed campaign content with helpful, non-branded content in a calendar designed to drive traffic to specific web pages.

We monitored the campaign closely and adjusted the tweeting schedule to make sure we were sending tweets when people were online. Because the campaign happened over the holidays, we clustered around times when people were most likely to be checking Twitter for news and entertainment.

In terms of the content itself, we published hundreds (544) of tweets. Some of them linked back to a long-form interview we conducted with the client’s CEO. Some tweets had a up to a dozen variations, so that our audience would not be fatigued by repitition.

About half of the tweets included a link that drove traffic to keyword-optimized pages.

During the campaign we sent hundreds of tweets consisting of branded and non-branded content.
Campaign or not, we always try to provide helpful, data-driven information to our media buying audience.
A long-form article consisting of an interview with the CEO served the dual purpose of getting the audience familiar with our client's story while enhancing visibility for the target keyword.
During the campaign we published more than 500 tweets.

The SEO Side of the Campaign

Of course, no search and social organic campaign is ready to launch until the on-site technical SEO is complete. This must happen before the campaign starts sending traffic.

One of our pages in the keyword portfolio, “podcast advertising” debuted at 54 but moved to 35 by the time the campaign started on November 7. By the end of the campaign we had hit page one, just in the nick of time before the pandemic hit. After the campaign, the page continued to improve until it moved into third position, but with traffic slowing to the page, it began to drift into the low teens.

Our positioning right around the early time of the pandemic proved to be very fortunate.

Podcasting proved to be one of the most resilient forms of advertising, and with unspent government budgets expiring because of year end, many campaigns were looking for a new home.

Certain keywords improved dramatically during the campaign.

The Creative Strategy

Having a reliable social channel for an SEO campaign is a beautiful thing.

It solves a very difficult problem: showing people pages that aren’t ranked.

We published up to twelve tweets per day — some live and some pre-crafted — so that we would give people a reason to keep coming back to Twitter every day. This tactic would maximize our chances of people clicking on our campaign links which would then result in more traffic to our target pages.

Through the hundreds of social media posts, the campaign pushed a portfolio of themed keywords: podcast advertising, digital audio, digital marketing services and digital marketing strategy.

Podcast advertising and digital audio had recently captured the attention of Canadian media buyers so we turned up the frequency of tweets that drove traffic to those pages, along with tweets related to a page on digital marketing strategy which we felt would elevate the keyword portfolio.

To make the posts more consumable, we included a link and graphic in every tweet. About half of the links were to “on-site” pages.

Monitoring and Testing Post Performance

When a campaign runs we monitor the performance daily. This is for two reasons.

The first reason is purely out of fear. What if our scheduling software breaks down? What if a troll shows up? These things keep us awake at night!

The second reason is more pragmatic. We are keenly interested to know which one of the sixteen versions of a tweet performs the best. There is always one that performs better than the others!

Once we identify a top performer, we have a reason to add it to the mix more often in future tweets.

Comparing ten different versions of a single tweet. We can see that one has a much better engagement rate (4.5%) than the others.

Our campaign entry consisted of a 544 tweets sent over a three month period.
The campaign was designed to give media buyers and brands a one-stop shop for information related to podcast ads.

The 2020 Canadian Search Awards take place on September 17, 2020. Wish us luck!