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Sep 07, 2022

SEO for IR: Upshifting keyword-based content for investor awareness

How leveraging SEO-based hashtags on social media can elevate brand awareness and lead generation

Warren Buffett once said a company’s returns are ‘far more a function of what business boat you get into than of how effectively you row’.

The same principle applies to making noise online. Working on the right content strategy (getting the topic right with rich messaging) is more important than the myriad details of execution (how deep you go and how widely it’s disseminated).

It’s increasingly important to strategically mobilize current and prospective investors via a sound communication strategy across social channels. The lynchpin of any plan starts with understanding the types of investors your business and industry attracts. Next is the content discovery phase, which will help guide keywords and content for SEO that will drive engagement and nurture relationships.

While each group of investors – short term, long-only, value-driven, veteran, digital-first, and so on – will be motivated by different catalysts, they all want to hear the same story, perhaps in a different sequence or by theme. With more than 500 mn tweets sent per day and 3 mn pieces of content shared weekly on LinkedIn, you’ll need to repurpose content by tailoring content leads, followed by the operational details executing on your long-term vision to rise up and over the noise.

Social goals and snackable nuggets

Social IR goals are not mutually exclusive from broader corporate sales and marketing goals. Find keywords that can be used as hashtags based on a combination of industry and competitor research on industry websites, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn. This will identify highly competitive keywords that competitors are using and help you discover keywords that can be tweaked by, for example, swapping word order, using a plural rather than a single noun or other minor adjustments to a word to improve SEO ranking.

If you use a new hashtag, own it and use it every time you post on that subject. It will eventually be associated with your brand.

Be sure to use a combination of hashtags including general industry hashtags – such as #yourindustryniche – service or project-specific ones (for example, #wecanxyzandmore) and an ESG tag (when applicable) to attract investors focused on environmental or social issues. This type of SEO-based hashtag strategy, from general to hyper-specific, can build strong investor communities, brand awareness and lead generation.

To optimize hashtags for SEO – on-page, off-page and on social media – start with Google Search Console. When it comes to keyword-rank tracker tools, Google Console (which is free) gives you a quick look at overall performance, showing you how Google sees your website from a keyword search perspective. Once you have a basic understanding of the keywords for your company and industry, you can go deeper with some inexpensive tools such as Semrush, Moz Pro or SE Ranking.

Keep in mind that a solid social strategy requires measurement, which comes in the form of likes, shares, clicks, page views, reach, Google search success, and so on. While the same sort of communication should be offered to all stakeholders, including clients, what works at a social scale is snackable nuggets that are ultimately easier to measure and manage.

Gathering intelligence

A deeper approach to investor awareness is to create and maintain a generous list of relevant content topics organized by a broad list of SEO-based keywords. First, gather buy-side intelligence and insights. Spend some time in the free online forums – StockGuru, Morningstar, Seeking Alpha, Reddit – and on Twitter, Google Trends and Google Console, monitoring interests, investment goals and strategy, as well as policy and social-related issues that might sway investor decision-making.

This type of research can form a solid foundation for an SEO-based keyword strategy. It takes some time, but this deep dive can provide ongoing future returns. It also allows you to later prioritize the list based on key metrics.

Second, brainstorm seed keywords to expand into seedlings. Put them into a spreadsheet and analyze, compare and prioritize based on your goals: search traffic, eyeballs and opportunities. And remember that even low-demand search terms are not completely irrelevant. They can be very valuable for SEO in creating link baits: content designed to attract backlinks that pass their equity to other pages.

Backlinks are an essential component of any SEO campaign. They are the links you earn from other websites Google views as votes of confidence that your site is high quality and user-friendly. Backlinks are hyperlinks to your website from other websites.

There are dozens of potential scenarios for disseminating quality content, all of which have the potential to increase awareness and traffic and improve Google search rankings. The fastest – but most expensive way – is to establish your company as a subject matter expert by creating outstanding SEO-based content. Typically, this type of content consists of ‘how to’ posts: infographics, guides, white papers, opinion pieces, interview-based posts, press releases and original research.

A cheaper (and, as a result, less powerful) method is to forge valuable networking relationships with other websites such as industry journals, news sites and organizations by commenting and reposting content.

Cost vs time vs opportunity

Admittedly, we get excited by storytelling, but it’s important not to overlook the cost vs time vs opportunity equation. One way to establish a baseline is to estimate the number of hours multiplied by an hourly or project rate and use that as a guideline.

Creating keyword-based content with high search volume isn’t enough to create investor awareness, because one piece of content can rank for thousands of different keywords. You can use that to your advantage by focusing on quantitative and qualitative keywords. And don’t overlook algorithmic trading, which monitors content for sentiment, context and – of course – positive keywords.

While SEO isn’t a silver bullet, for companies looking to expand awareness, it should be a key element of any content – and IR – plan.

Lisa Micali is managing director at Harbor Access, where this article first appeared, in two parts