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The importance of social media sentiment analysis (and how to conduct it)

Today’s marketers are rightfully obsessed with metrics.

But don’t forget that your customers are more than just data points.

And yeah, it’s easy to overlook our customers’ feelings and emotions, which can be difficult to quantify.

However, consider that emotions are the number one factor in making purchasing decisions. With so many consumers sharing their thoughts and feelings on social media, it quite literally pays for brands to have a pulse on how their products make people feel.

Enter the world of sentiment analysis.

Rather than let your customers’ emotions fall by the wayside, brands today can translate those feelings into actionable business data.

In this guide, we’ll break down the importance of social media sentiment analysis, how to conduct it and what it can do to transform your business.

What is sentiment analysis?

Sentiment analysis is the process of retrieving information about a consumer’s perception of a product, service or brand.

If you want to know exactly how people feel about your business, sentiment analysis can do the trick. Specifically, social media sentiment analysis takes the conversations your customers are around the social space and puts them into context.

Think of sentiment analysis as a subset of social listening. While businesses should obviously monitor their mentions, sentiment analysis digs into the positive, negative and neutral emotions surrounding those mentions.

Does your product give customers a sort of warm, fuzzy feeling? Are you meeting their expectations with your quality of service? Sentiment analysis can answer these questions and then some.

Bear in mind that your mentions, whether they be positive or negative, don’t happen in a vacuum. Rather than obsess over a one-off compliment or complaint, brands should look at the bigger picture of their customers’ feelings. For example, a flurry of praise is definitely a plus…

…and a flood of complaints can clue you in on problems with your product or service that need to be addressed.

The beauty of social media for sentiment analysis is that there’s so much data to gather. With more and more consumers tagging and talking about brands on social, chances are you can already start analyzing how your customers feel about you. Additionally, social sentiment analysis encourages businesses to take a more proactive approach to social media and engage with their customers directly.

How to conduct sentiment analysis yourself

With a basic understanding of what sentiment analysis is, let’s talk about how you actually go about conducting it. Although sentiment analysis can result in valuable insights to brands, it’s not without its challenges.

Find out where folks are talking about you

As noted, consumers are sounding off on brands like never before. This rings true both on social media and off.

Businesses obviously need to be paying attention to their social mentions on Twitter or Instagram where customers are addressing you directly. Doing so is a great way to capitalize on praise and address criticism in a timely manner.

That said, you also need to monitor third-party sites and review forums. This includes Google Reviews, Reddit and sites such as Yelp!

And if you’re in the realm of ecommerce, your on-site reviews are particularly valuable. Don’t neglect the insights from loyal customers who arguably mean the most to your business. Here’s an example of positive sentiment from one of J. Crew’s product pages.

Monitoring all of these platforms manually can certainly be time-consuming. That’s why we recommend a social listening tool such as Sprout for the sake of saving time. For example, with Sprout, you can pick your priority networks for listening to avoid monitoring your mentions “by hand.” Additionally, you can track keywords related to your brand in cases where customers don’t tag you directly.

Choose your terms for sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis is only effective when you’re able to separate your positive mentions from your negative ones.

That means searching for relevant terms which highlight customer sentiment.

Some sentiment terms are relatively straightforward and others might be specific to your industry. Either way, your sentiment terms need to be divided into positive and negative terms. Below is a quick example of what some of those terms might look like for a sentiment search.

  • Positive: best, love, high-five, amazing, perfect, thanks
  • Negative: worst, hate, ugh, disappointed, bad, avoid

To show what basic positive sentiment analysis looks like in action, let’s search the term “love” alongside @Glossier on Twitter. The results are a list of compliments and praise from satisfied customers:

See how that works?

Put your mentions into context

This is where sentiment analysis gets tricky.

The volume of sentiment-related terms in your searches doesn’t always tell the full story of how your customers feel. It’s crucial to double-check your mentions and leave some room for analytical error.

Here’s a good example from Netflix’s Facebook page. Fans are obviously singing the praises of their programming, but they’re also throwing in terms like “ugly,” “cry” and “depressed” while doing so. If you saw those terms pop up in your mentions without context, it might be cause for alarm.

Sarcasm can likewise create confusion when it comes to sentiment analysis. When somebody tweets “I love it when I lose my luggage after a nine-hour flight,” they obviously aren’t thrilled about their experience.

Although sentiment analysis is going to be accurate most of the time, you’re always going to have these sorts of outliers. A combination of manual listening and machine learning is ideal for getting the most “complete” sentiment analysis possible, which actually leads us to our next point.

Let a sentimental analysis tool do the legwork for you

Sprout’s social listening capabilities can help eliminate some of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks related to social listening. The sheer volume of conversations happening right now is reason enough to invest in a third-party listening tool.

For starters, Sprout monitors and organizes your social mentions in real-time. With the help of our query builder, you can pick and choose terms related to sentiment analysis that you want to track.

Meanwhile, your Active Listeners allow for one-click access to queries including complaints, compliments and specific customer experiences.

Oh, and don’t forget your sentiment analysis report. Sprout’s report monitors not only your positive, negative and neutral mentions for a particular time period, but also digs into how those mentions have evolved over time. In other words, you can determine whether your brand perception is improving or not from month-to-month.

How to build a better business through sentiment analysis

The insights gleaned from sentiment analysis can translate directly into positive changes for your business.

Below is a snapshot of some of the benefits of conducting regular sentiment analysis regardless of what you’re selling.

Step up your customer service

As noted earlier, sentiment analysis encourages brands to keep a closer eye on their mentions. This means being more attentive to comments and concerns as they pop up. Addressing these mentions, both negative and positive, signals that you’re listening to your customers.

Spot opportunities to improve your products

On a related note, monitoring compliments and complaints can help you understand what people want to see from you in the future. Consumers today are anything but shy when it comes to sounding off, but it’s still up to brands to open their ears for feedback.

Conduct comprehensive competitive analysis

Just as you want to know how people feel about your business, you should also have a sense of how your audience feels about your competitors. Especially when people are searching for recommendations, multiple brands are tagged side-by-side. Through sentiment analysis, you can understand why someone might bounce to a competitor or prefer their product to yours.

Make sure your messaging is on-point

Finding your tone on social media can definitely be a challenge. Right now, many customers are engaging with humorous brands like MoonPie specifically because of their snark. Increasing your positive mentions might mean tweaking how you talk to your customers and build more buzz.

Monitor your long-term brand health

This is the big one.

Just as you mentor your traffic and followers, tracking sentiment over time ensures that you have a positive relationship with your audience and industry.

Sentiment analysis is particularly important when your business is making big moves. For example, product launches, pricing changes and another big announcement could see a significant shift in your brand sentiment. Keeping an eye on these numbers on a regular basis can provide you with peace of mind or spot a potential crisis before it occurs.

And with that, we wrap up our guide to sentiment analysis!

Do you know your followers and customers feel about you?

Your customer’s feelings and emotions are simply too important to ignore.

Through sentiment analysis, there’s no second-guessing where people stand on your brand. With the ability to monitor and analyze the conversations happening on social media and beyond, you can use those feelings to make actionable decisions on behalf of your business.

We want to hear from you, though. How do you keep an eye on your customers’ emotions? How much stock do you put into your compliments and complaints on social? Let us know in the comments below!

This post The importance of social media sentiment analysis (and how to conduct it) originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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