Abiding theme 3 / Social Media is Not SEO

But they’re part of the same thing…

There was a time not so long ago when SEO and Social Media Marketing were treated as different sides of the same coin, and the people responsible for providing strategic planning in one area would be expected to provide strategic planning in the other.  From the number of blog posts on the subject right now, there seems to be something of a messy divorce going on.  This is not necessarily the right idea though.

In the time before people were talking about things in terms of Web 2.0, when user interaction on the web was confined to forums and review websites, the perception who was responsible for  for SEO and Social Media looked like this:

SEO and SMM responsibility

As things changed, and general consciousness of sharing grew, the picture changed somewhat, and it became apparent that with websites like Facebook, there was a need for a slightly different approach to Social Media, although there was still an overlap – most notably in the area of Link building for SEO purposes via channels like Digg:

SEO and Social Media Overlap

Now, with social defining user interaction with the web, and recommendations from contacts fast becoming the dominant means of finding information, as well as becoming increasingly important consideration within the ranking algorithms used by the search engines, we are beginning to enter an age where the picture has changed entirely:

SEO as a subset of social media marketing

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an umbrella term that covers a lot of different activities that together are used to increase the visibility of a particular website in the search results provided by Google.  From domain name choice and website structure through to content tweaks to ensure that particular words and phrases are given prominence, on site SEO is designed to produce an environment of relevance on a website that the search engines will recognise.

As user experience is increasingly defined by their individual social network, new factors will grow in importance as part of SEO.  The types of things people search for in Google will increasingly be defined by their peer group, and the search engines will develop better personalisation technology and be able to cross reference the successful choices made by social contacts and use these to re-order their results to the demographic of one who is searching.

Structuring content and producing elegant websites that can be fully understood for their relevance to particular user groups will always be of paramount importance, and ignoring SEO totally will be wrong, however it is vitally important that a business understands their users more fully, and optimises for them based on their social behaviour, rather than for the wider market.

Through this paradigm shift, business owners will see better conversion, and better targeted advertising through all on line channels, which is of course the goal of all marketing.

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