It used to be that SEO was the holy grail of Internet Marketing and the online world was ablaze with the opportunity and success of optimizing your website for the Search Engines to gain visibility, traffic, leads and sales.
Then, all of a sudden the social web exploded with Facebook, Twitter and Social Bookmarking where everyone could chat about your product or service, write a review and share it with their ‘friends’.
The naysayers naturally announced that this was the end of SEO, as they usually do when pretty much anything new and exciting happens in the world of search. People started asking questions like, “How will social media affect SEO and my rankings?” “SEO vs. Social Media?” and many made their opinions heard about which one of these marketing strategies are the best. The fact of the matter is this…
SEO & Social Media is intricately linked and cannot be separated.
SEO at its core is based on two major elements, Relevance (Onsite SEO) and Authority (Offsite SEO).
• Onsite SEO (Relevance) refers to the elements on a website that determines the topic of your site and relevance to that topic. This would be things like, keyword usage, content, page titles, descriptions and a whole bunch more. All of these elements allow the user and the Search Engines to know exactly what your site is about and whether your content is relevant to the topic of your site. More importantly, it allows users to determine whether your site and information is what they are looking for.
• Offsite SEO (Authority) refers to the mentions of your website and brand by others online. Strictly speaking the authority of your site increases as others point links to your website. Each link to your site acts as a vote for your site, brand, products/services. Essentially when someone links to your site they are saying: “I vouch for these guys, their products/services are excellent and I recommend them”.
Social Media is about starting conversation and nurturing relationships. Users of Social Media share their experiences and recommend valuable resources to their networks. Social Media is a platform from which your brand or personal reputation can be improved. The golden rule here is to provide quality; great service, superior products, and unique, well researched information.
We all rely on recommendations from others on certain topics that we may not be versed in. Let’s look at an example.
I’m looking for a new digital camera and I’m looking for quality at a great price. I’m no electronics guru and could make the wrong choice when relying purely on the recommendations of the company or outlet providing digital cameras. Instead I search for ratings and recommendations from real people who have used the product through Social Media platforms or user ratings and make a more informed decision.
Social Media is not just Facebook and Twitter. Blogs, social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, Delicious and StumbleUpon, wikis, product review sites and loads more are all part of the Social Web. Social Media is anything that relies on users to share, comment and converse.
Contributing to the Social web with authoritative, interesting and useful information will get you noticed, building your brand and getting you exposure. This ups your chances of being recommended and gaining ‘votes’ for your site, and that’s what you want.
So how does SEO & Social Media supplement each other?
Let’s say some of the readers find this article to be an interesting and noteworthy resource (which I hope you will), and they decide to tweet the article or subscribe to the RSS feed or even republish the post on their own blogs with credit to the author. This could lead to new twitter followers, blog subscribers and a few valuable links to the post.
Hold on…that’s Offsite SEO, link building, brand building and an increase in authority! Some of you might then say that Social Media wins the battle, we are creating authority purely through social media and therefore creating SEO value.
Without SEO efforts you will not maximize SEO value. Doing a few simple things like, targeting correct keywords, optimizing the Title of my post, and working on getting the right anchor text in my inbound links will increase the SEO value that Social Media contributes to this post.
Social Media and SEO are only 2 strategies in your Online Marketing arsenal. Striking a balance between these and other strategies such as email marketing will boost the efficacy of your marketing efforts.
It is plain to see that debating whether SEO or Social Media is best is beside the point and of no consequence. Rather ask: “How do I implement SEO & Social Media together with other marketing strategies to get the best out of my Online Marketing campaign?”