Social Media is the New SEO or is it?

Social Media is the New SEO: Twitter, Facebook, Googleplus, LinkedInIt’s really no wonder that many businesses, especially small businesses are confused about how to think about social media marketing and search engine optimization.  There is so much information available it makes my head spin and unfortunately it’s not all good information.  One of my favorite buzz word phrases to pick on is that, “Social media is the new SEO.”

One of the challenges we all face is trying to absorb and make sense of the bazillions of articles that are published every day about social media and search engine optimization.  I thought the world of SEO was hard to keep up with until I started immersing myself more into social media and realized that at least one thing changes every day in the world of social networks.

Armed with information from on-line tutorials and free eBooks there are many self declared social media experts and SEOers dolling out bad advice and many of the social media tips should be ignored. Sometimes I think they read no further than the title of an article or webinar and draw conclusions that are incorrect.  When you see a title like “Social Media Optimization Is The New SEO” for a webinar sponsored by a very reputable company, it would be easy to take that title at face value and start spreading the word.

Of course I’m speculating, but I’m trying to fathom why else anyone would advise a business owner that they don’t need to worry about search engine optimization because “social media is the new SEO.”   I can only surmise that they are either gathering advice from the wrong sources or they don’t bother to actually read the article or the webinar synopsis, which in this case was:  Learn why SMO should be part of an overall SEO strategy (SEO + SMO = Amplified Findability in the traditional and social web).

One of the worst pieces of advice that an “expert” could give a business owner is that they don’t need to do or can’t afford to do SEO.  Neither social media marketing or paid advertising (PPC) are a replacement for search engine optimization.  (I’m going to focus on social media for now but I see a post about PPC and SEO coming in the very near future, so stay tuned).

Social Media is Not the new SEO

SEO and social media marketing are two distinct marketing strategies that share a few common elements and should be executed in concert with each other.

  • Search engine optimization drives traffic from search engine results pages (SERPs) – that means Google, Bing, and Yahoo
  • Social media marketing drives traffic from social networks – that means Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and more

If you throw SEO out the window, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to be found by the search engines.  This is especially true now that social signals are a factor that influence search rankings.  Search engine results pages include user generated content in addition to web pages so there’s even the chance that you can drive traffic from search to your social platform and then to your website.

There are billions of  searches, trillions of web pages, and the statistics associated with social media use are almost beyond comprehension.  If you plan and execute a well coordinated marketing strategy that includes both SEO and social media you will increase your visibility on search engine results pages and social networks.  In my mind, it’s the only way to maximize your online presence to drive traffic to your website and generate new leads.  Social media is not the new SEO, it’s a complementary marketing strategy.

Can a business ignore SEO and still succeed online?  What are your thoughts?

  • In my experience so far Beth – it’s definitely 1 and 2. I was recently introduced to a “SEO expert” at a business networking event, that clearly wasn’t reading your posts. It took two or three pointed questions about the depth of their business to have them scurry away. I’m no expert, but seriously, how hard is it to read and ask relevant questions.

    • I agree completely Gordon. It kind of blows my mind to think of all of the people who call themselves “experts.”

      What’s bothersome to me is that most people don’t know what questions to ask to determine whether or not someone really knows what they are talking about.

      Thanks for stopping by!