Turning SEO Link Building into SEO Audience Targeting with Twitter profiling

Admit it. You’ve sat in a meeting with your SEO Agency and thought, “surely, this shouldn’t work”. Endless, near irrelevant “guest posts” at best, “article submission” and “directory link building” at the very worst.

For the past decade, “SEO” and “Marketing” have been allowed to remain almost entirely different disciplines.

With a few exceptions, the vast majority of the SEO industry has been allowed to stumble along without a second thought to who they are targeting, where those people might be, and how best to reach them.

Today, I want to share a combination of a few simple tools that actually help us identify our target audience, show us who might be influencing them and how to identify what content those influencers share. Why? We’re trying to reach people. What better way than to do it in a targeted, data driven way.

SEO has finally arrived at the intersection between search engine rankings and real marketing. Social Media happens to be the key that has opened the door, and finally, it’s our job to catch the attention of a real audience. Here’s how to turn SEO link building into real audience targeting with Twitter profiling. 

Start by identifying Your Audience

Let’s think about an audience and do some imaginary targeting for a moment. For this article, I’ve decided to profile a representative group of UK based Marketing Directors. Perfect for a typical B2B marketing scenario. Imagine we’d like those professionals to become aware of us, to get their eyeballs on our brand or to get them to connect with us in some way. How would you do that?

SEOmoz, a US based SEO Tools company recently acquired a start up with a web application called Followerwonk. Followerwonk, a Twitter search tool, has a set of powerful features for the curious Social Media researcher – in particular the “Search Twitter Bios” and “Analyse Followers” tools which make for rapid identification of real people in a target audience.

Let’s return to our market research scenario. An initial query reveals 234 active Twitter profiles, where the bio contains “Marketing Director” with a location set to “London”. Trying to stay focused on a small, but interesting set of verticals, we chose to drill down into fashion, automotive and publishing.

 A Seed List of “Typical” Profiles

Our initial research help us identify the Head of Digital at Barclaycard, a Marketing Director at Mercedes and a Marketing Manager at Condé Nast. While quite active on Twitter, these individuals were not quite active enough to derive any meaningful data from further research. Returning to the profile search feature once again, we sort the results for “Marketing Director” by profiles that had many followers and happened to be following a larger number of people. Finally, we identified three “Typical” but influential Twitter users from which we could derive some behavioural data.

Identifying the Influencer Intersection

Let’s remember for a moment that we’re trying to catch the attention of our Marketing Directors. We’ve identified our typical profiles, but now we need to understand the influencer intersection. What people, if any, are followed by all three of our targets?

Followerwonk has the answer. There’s a smart feature called “Compare Users” allowing us to take a detailed look at the activity of each of our target users, which also allows us to perform some analysis on the people they follow.

A quick comparison of two of our target profiles reveals that they mutually follow 41 of the same people.

Selecting the “followed by both” link reveals the intersection:

Selecting Relevant Influencers in the Intersection

This is the exciting part. Remembering again we’re trying to attract the attention of our representative Marketing Director segment, so, we carefully choose relevant influencers or people in this list who are likely to share ideas and content that appeal professionally. An Ideal example of an influencer might be Jamie Riddell, an active Twitter user, followed by over 7,000 people (including our selected profiles), who shares content and Tweets regularly.

We know that our Marketing Directors see Jamie’s Tweets on a daily basis. What is Jamie sharing? What are all of the relevant influencers in the intersection sharing? We’re marketers, let’s use data to learn.


Tweetarchivist is a handy little tool to analyse and export tweet data. Fortunately, the tool’s search interface uses the same advanced search syntax as Twitter Search. So, we can in theory extract all of the recently shared content from Jamie, and the rest of our influencers.

A search query as simple as this: “filter:links from:@brandrepublic” reveals 96 recently shared links from Brand Republic. Combining the export data for all users is a simple matter of copy and paste to reveal raw behavioural data like this:

Simple Data Analysis with SEO Tools for Excel

One of the niftiest tools I’ve ever used in Excel (if you’re an SEO) is SEO Tools for Excel. There’s a clever function in the toolset called “unshortURL()” which makes it possible to decode shortened URLs from services like Bit.ly and T.co.

Let’s remember that we’re trying to locate and identify sources of content that our target audience are most likely to discover. We’ve identified the people that influence them, so next we need to understand what sites are being shared by the influencer group.  If you’re trying to determine where you should get your PR and outreach teams to focus, then SEO Tools combined with Tweetarchivist data is an immensely powerful process to master.

A little Excel wizardry and we end up with a data set that looks like this:

What we’re looking at here is the PR’s dream. It’s a list of all of the websites, shared on Twitter by the people who are most relevant and most influential to our Marketing Directors. The data has been ordered by the number of times we saw each domain shared in a 30 day period.

Building Links Using Audience Targeting

I hope you find this concept as exciting as I do. We’ve been able to identify an audience, find their influencers, derive what those influencers are sharing most frequently, knowing that there’s a very high likelihood that our Marketing Directors will simply stumble across our targeted PR, outreach or news content completely by accident. That’s the new intersection between social, SEO and Marketing.

Written by Richard Baxter, Founder and Director of SEOgadget.com.

Main image bigstockphoto.com.