How to use Twitter to replace SEO keyword data

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So many SEO folks and blogs have said the sky has fallen with the end of keyword data in our SEO analytics. What’s a marketer to do now that we don’t know the exact words someone uses to search for what we want to rank for? The short answer is that Google is very clearly creating search results using topics, which are aggregations of relevant keywords, misspellings, and related terms. So how do you penetrate this misty veil and discover what people are really searching for, since the individual keyword data is gone?

Use Twitter, of course! Twitter is the world’s largest open stream of conversation available, and the words, phrases, and expressions people use in conversation are going to be the same kinds of words, phrases, and expressions that they’ll use in search, especially around topics they want to know about. Let’s look at an example of how this might work. Let’s say you’re looking to become authoritative on content marketing. What words and phrases are people going to use in relation to this?

Start by doing a search for the phrase or term in question on Twitter.


Scroll down as far as you can without making your web browser crash and copy/paste all of the tweets you can into a text file.


Sort the file and remove the obvious bits of text that aren’t relevant, like lines filled with usernames and Klout scores, and you should be left with a nice body of text that contains the different related terms and topics around content marketing, courtesy of the Twitter audience. Condense this down using your favorite concordance software or word cloud software (I like Tagxedo), and you should have a visualized sense of what’s relevant around your core search term:


Twitter has given you a lexicon you can use of different keywords and terms you can mix and match as you create content to take advantage of the topic as a whole, rather than individual keywords. Give this a try and see if it works for you!

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3 responses to “How to use Twitter to replace SEO keyword data”

  1. Ellen K. Butler Avatar
    Ellen K. Butler

    This is great! So simple and brilliant. Thanks for sharing. – Question: What do you use to clean up the text file and remove usernames, reply/rt/etc?

  2. abelniak Avatar

    @ellenkbutler:disqus – one trick I use is Excel (or any spreadsheet tool of your liking), then sorting alphabetically. http and RT and all that jazz will clump together. Delete, then sort again, looking for other obvious chunks to delete. @cspenn uses all kinds of cool text tools, but this is a good start.

  3. dean jackson Avatar
    dean jackson

    As a Google PPC ninja once told me, it is important to constantly split-test new ads so that messaging is consistently being refined in a competitive marketplace. That happens on at least two levels: 1) The ads themselves, inside Adwords. It has easy split testing for ads and reports optimal performance. 2) On your landing page itself. That’s where a lot of people miss the boat on conversions. They blame the ads but don’t split test elements or versions of their landing pages. There are lots of ways to do this, but it’s kind of technical and as a business owner I couldn’t really be bothered with learning the details, but I can refer you to Simon. Call him – 302-401-4478.

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