If you already have a website, and know anything at all about how to attract visitors, then you’ll know what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can do; even though you’re not an expert.
Social Strategy clients use both Social Media Marketing and SEO to bring visitors to their websites. There’s really no point in doing one without the other. But I have to tell you, SEO is not the key to success it once was.
Don’t get me wrong — SEO is something you need to implement properly to avoid missing out on all that organic search traffic — but these days most modern blogging platforms and CMS’s incorporate good on-page SEO principles into their basic design.
OK, it’s not quite as simple as that, but the theory goes, if you are prepared to wait long enough, all you need do is write and post interesting and relevant content, and as time passes you will build up a sufficient body of keyword-rich articles which will start attracting organic search traffic to your website.
Let me try and give you a fair appraisal of where SEO and Social Marketing have their strengths and weaknesses, and I think you will see how, these days, having a strong Social Strategy is more important than having strong SEO.
The case for a Social Strategy
My issue is not that SEO should be ignored, but that often it leeches the lion’s share of resources from projects and enterprises which should be spending their budgets and energy going after far more important prizes, like authority, social influence and reach.
At one time, search engines were the only way to find information on the Internet – unlike today where more and more people are finding information through social networks.
SEO, while taken to extremes by a few, is really about structuring your web pages and their content in such a way as to make them as valuable as possible to readers and easy to index by the search engines.
Search engines can’t actually determine the quality of the content they are indexingBut people soon found out, by employing some SEO tricks, you could leapfrog up the SERPs (search engine results pages). This is where the problem comes in. Search engines can’t actually determine the quality of the content they are indexing. They don’t understand it in the same sense we humans do (they’re just machines). They rely on tricks and techniques in their algorithm to rank the importance of pages.
Access to information for discovery is most often associated with search engines. For people who have some idea of what they want or need, its second nature to search and then sort through the results for the best answer. But with more and more organisations relying on Social Marketing, things are changing.
Search engines continue to represent the most popular method of finding specific information, the influence of social networking, shared social media and the proliferation of platforms for individuals to publish content all intersect to create tremendous opportunities to better attract and engage with customers. Recognizing the importance, relevance and need to master each of these changing consumer preferences is essential for social enterprise to succeed online.
Put simply; people are better than machines at knowing what people like
While it’s always been possible to fool the search engines to some extent, with the advent of Social Media it isn’t possible to fool people nearly as easily. Content which is shared socially will only become popular if it holds value for the audience it reaches.
This means, on average, the quality of information which is shared via social networks is way higher than what is returned by search engines. Put simply; people are better than machines at knowing what people like.
As more and more people start finding what they want socially, so search, and in particular SEO, is going to dwindle in importance even further. That’s not to say you can ignore SEO entirely, just that once you have the basics (easier to understand how than to do), you needn’t waste a whole load more time and money on developing SEO to the nth degree. You just need to maintain your relative position against your direct competitors.
If you like, think of Social Marketing as off-site SEO. And understand we are at the start of a fundamental shift from the old model of — many individual websites being discoverable via search — to — influential content shared via social interaction — and take a look at these reasons why I think this change will be good for social enterprise.
Social content is more relevant
Social content is more current
Social content is determined by humans
Social content is less ambiguous than SEO
Social influence is a far better metric than SEO
I’ve tried to be fair and analytical, but the overwhelming conclusion I have come to is this ~ SEO is how we pander to the machines, and not a good way to produce content. It’s far better to take your content straight to the audience, cut out the intermediary, and let people decide if they like what you’re saying, or not.
And remember, if you don’t start becoming “social”, and get good at it, then you risk losing out ~ big time!