Is social media the new SEO?

Don’t carve that tombstone just yet…

Don’t carve that tombstone just yet…

NEWS FLASH! Unconfirmed reports claim that SEO is dead. It didn’t suffer, witnesses say. It just sort of petered out, replaced (a la the myth of John Henry) by a machine we know as social media.

That’s what some in the blogosphere are claiming. SEO—search engine optimization—may not quite be a goner, but it’s definitely on life support. Be sure to get its affairs in order and contact its next of kin.

Is that true?

As with anything online, opinions abound… with many not based on a lick of facts. But I’ve muddled through a lot of it, and there are definitely some interesting developments happening. But first, here are a couple of things to know…

> Google and other search engines are constantly evolving—changing faster than a virus trying to outwit an antibiotic. They continually tweak their algorithms, making them more and more sophisticated and nuanced in their searches. It’s not just about keywords anymore. It’s also about content and how that content is valued by readers.

> Some marketers are no longer worried about SEO and are instead trying to tap SMO, a.k.a. social media optimization. That’s the art of trying to optimize what people are saying about your brand or product on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. (There are a lot of arguments and sales pitches on how to do that, by the way.)

> That said, SEO and SMO use very different techniques to get their results. I won’t even pretend to understand or explain any of it, but the bottom line is that your digital house has to be in order. (More on how to do that in a minute.)

Social media is, understandably, all the rage in marketing right now, but it can be scary as hell. It does, digitally, what some would call “word-of-mouth” advertising. We’ve all heard stories of major brands being brought to their knees by a nasty YouTube video—or the near mystical experience of a brand coming out of nowhere, brought to the collective spotlight by social media love.

Given this level of influence and power, has social media plotted and quietly poisoned the older but once highly regarded SEO?

From what I see, not quite.

SEO and social media, for the time being, seem to work well in tandem. Like roommates who are very different, but kind of enhance each other’s personality.

For instance, when something is shared a lot on social media (like a useful blog or article), that boosts its SEO ranking, making it easier to find in a Google search. See the synergy?

How do you get the best of both SEO and SMO? A few tips…

  • Make sure your website plays nice with search engines and how they index.
  • Produce content that people actually care about, will read and share.
  • Listen and respond to social media conversations about your company, brand or product.
  • Be web omnipresent by using keywords, posting videos, images, descriptions, tags and links.

The moral of all this? Connect in as many ways as you can and that make sense. And enjoy the tag-team effectiveness that SEO and SMO can bring.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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