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A recent article published in The Guardian raises some notable issues related to the changing face of the search engine optimization (SEO) industry and the increasing weight given to social media promotions with start-ups and businesses.
Is SEO Irrelevant?
Honestly, the concept of SEO is flawed. Whatever importance it gained in the early years of the millennium is slowly subsiding towards a more comprehensive search engine strategy. Earlier, if you had keyword optimized headings and sub-headings, ‘alt’ tag in images and optimized URL’s, you could get a fair ranking on Google.
A striking post by Don Graziano on BGR.com makes a stunning revelation –
“Google search displays only 13% organic results – this rest is ads and junk”.
In other words, your effort to rank high on Google just occupied 13% relevancy and that too, if your page or blog shows up on the upper side of the first page. The rest of the space is gobbled up by Google. Check out the image.
Even if SEO is not completely dead, it is not fully relevant either in 2013. This is the reason bloggers and businesses are bending towards social media, optimizing shares on social platforms so that they lead to higher targeted traffic and better conversions (ROI).
In other words, SEO cannot exist in isolation. It needs social media support.
Understanding Social Media Optimization (SMO)
Social media branding is all about engagement. You are calling out to people to participate and share your updates, engage in conversation and take action. Take the example of Facebook pages. Optimized pages with good visibility have thousands of ‘Likes’ and updates from these pages get a higher user engagement.
In other words, you don’t use social media simply to announce something; you strive to make the announcement worthwhile for social media users to take interest and participate in it. It is a fact that social recommendations help to gain better conversions than ranking on search engines will ever accomplish.
Social media is customer-centric whereas search engines are algorithm-centric. The first one is clearly the winner.
Nonetheless, it is easier said than done. It is difficult to get consistent social media exposure across multiple channels.
SEO and Social Media Combination – Is it a Winning Strategy?
It is a winning strategy.
By combining both, you are able to reach out to people using two segments – search engine ranking + social media visibility.
Tom Schmitz, from Search Engine Land, sheds more light on this matter. You can read the full article here.
Tom focuses on two things: content marketing and the use of social media in content promotion. He says that paid social media should be a preferred way to reach out to the masses.
You might ask –
“Isn’t paid ‘anything’ illegal in the eye of search engines?”
No, it isn’t. If you are using black-hat services like the banned “Build My Rank” or “Text Link Ad” network, it is illegal but paid social media promotion is NOT illegal in any case.
The popular social media sites – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – already have paid advertisements.
The idea is that you are paying an initial amount to sponsor an update on social media and depending on the network you are using and the database managed by the social media site, your content page or website gains visibility. You are not forcing anyone to click or paying anyone as well. You are just getting the word out hoping that visitors will click, share and purchase.
If a blogger or media house picks up these links and further helps to get visibility via blogging or citation, these links are editorial or curatorial. In other words, they are “unpaid” and no search engine can penalize them.
Of course, just because SEO is becoming irrelevant doesn’t mean you need to concentrate all your efforts on social media only. It never helps to put all the eggs in one basket. If you want to have a solid online business, whether by running a network of blogs or setting up an online start-up, you need to have clear marketing strategies. Draw up detailed search engine and social media optimization plans. Outsource some work if needed or get an in-house team.
In all, don’t ignore either SEO or social media. Focus on both and create a winning promotional strategy.
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