SEO vs SMM: Who Wins?
You’re going to hear about Superman v Batman until its release at the end of March. So until then, let’s take the whole versus moniker and apply it to marketing. Specifically, SEO and Social Media Marketing strategy. If you’re new to either one, you can get a basic overview of the two combatants below. Or you can just skip ahead to read how they can help you, and even better, which one wins the battle. Your choice, Super Friends. Either way, you’ll learn something new or at least confirm a thing or two.
Search Engine Optimization is not a program owned by Google or any other search engine. It can be often confused with or associated with Google AdWords depending on your knowledge of the subject matter; however, it’s a totally separate strategy and it consists of settings and techniques that help make webpages more prominent in online search engines. It doesn’t include any commerce with Google or other search engines. Of course, the better a website is optimized, the higher the likelihood of it appearing atop the search results. There are dozens of factors, both on your site (On-Site) and off (Off-Site), that we’ll discuss in a follow-up blog post. But, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. SEO takes constant adjustment to crack the first search engine results page but when you do, you then begin accumulating organic traffic.
From a 50-foot view, SEO can be classified as a two-part strategy. One side is On-site adjustments, including your site architecture and content. The other side is Off-site adjustments, mainly pertaining to link-building. Optimizing your web site is the first step in SEO. Making sure your pages have compliant meta data, your web content i.e., copy and images and even URLs are created within best practice and finally your site loading speed are some factors well within your control. Not comfortable? Hire a seasoned web developer. Of course, link building won’t do any good if your site isn’t “up to code.”
Besides home base, i.e., your web site’s on-page factors, In-bound links are considered to be the most important factor in establishing your site’s credibility for search engine ranking. Generally, the higher the relevancy of links pointing to your site, the higher the likelihood your site will rank for x, z or y phrase. Sound easy? Not to mere mortals. Unless you have super mind-control powers to trick Forbes into linking to your site, it takes a variety of strategies to obtain links from such sites. A popular technique today includes content marketing. SEO is a lot like Batman’s utility belt. You have to have a ton of gadgets. In SEO, that translates to valuable pieces of information that others will link to. Begin by establishing yourself as a authority.
Social Media Marketing is the less techie of the two, but don’t take it lightly. It takes some heavy-lifting and familiarity with web based tools. Don’t get it twisted, the prevalence of SMM has exploded in every industry. Yes! Even the so-called boring ones. Even those who manufacture handwheels are on social media. If you’re not, choose a platform like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin and get your feet wet. Unlike SEO, it’s not about rankings. It’s about reach. These platforms offer the ability to expand your messages (photos, microblogs, status and video) organically across nearly all demographics and geography. Social media (more than your web site) can establish a personality and opens up the line of communication between brand, prospect and unfortunately even the heckler or hater.
The overhead view of social media is vast. With new channels entering the fold each week, choosing the right ones can be challenging. Brands big and small find success when they don’t bite off more than they can chew. That is: only manage what you can manage, so you don’t sacrifice message quality or consistency. It takes a creative mind to create, curate and share content that will interest your target market. Not creative? Hire a seasoned content marketer.
Hashtags are another social media superpower. They allow brands to listen to their audience, so they can find prospects and provide better value.
SM following takes time (not saying there aren’t any shortcuts), but the pay-off for patience and good content is usually a league of brand ambassadors, great engagement and best of all word-of-mouth recommendations. You may even become a highly-followed influencer. Furthermore, brands have to tie social media to business goals. Without that connection, how can you justify the sweat and tears?
How Each Can Help Businesses
The commonality is both can bring you new customers; however, they do it in different ways. Allow me to explain. With SEO, an individual already has the intent to solve a problem or variable, “x.” So they seek out answers by using the search engine of choice. There isn’t an entertainment element for SEO. Its sole purpose is to provide relevant results. As for social media, it can go either way. You can utilize social media to solve “x” by searching hashtags, influencers or asking questions. Or you can browse posts for entertainment purposes and by accident realize you have a need, learn more, then hopefully, purchase. I recommend trying both together. Social is becoming a stronger factor in SEO. And they are both an investment. Like stock or any other financial investment, the earlier you get in the higher the likelihood that you will achieve long-term success. The longer you hesitate to begin, the more you’ll regret starting late.
SEO – The top weakness is time. No overnight success comes here. You have to make a strong commitment for at least 12 months. I advise quarterly strategy evaluations and setting realistic goals to track. Another thorn in your side can be search-engine algorithm changes. These can send your strategy into a tailspin and strategies and concepts can be difficult for even savvy business minds to execute successfully. Like any DIY project, you can begin confident but quickly find yourself questioning and second guessing your methods. I’ve met many know-it-alls who thought they had it all figured out, only to realize they only knew a fraction. This lack of insight can stunt progress. Another weakness is it’s nearly impossible to rank for everything, and you cannot rank overnight. Essentially, your Black Friday strategy starts on Black Friday of the previous year and continues for 12 months.. If you want instant presence on search, try Google Adwords. It’s a great short-term and even long-term strategy and bodes well to combine with SEO.
Social Media – Not everyone is creative and knows what their audience craves. Some can’t get outside of their own proverbial box. We get it, people should want to know about your product. But every message doesn’t have to be about your product. Your biggest weakness in social media can be yourself. Invite others to get involved in your strategy to get the creative flow going. The hardest part of social media is getting started. Another challenge is making it a priority, especially in the beginning when it’s not a legitimate lead source. With SEO, you execute, then wait to see how it worked. But with social, you’re constantly churning out content both new and curated. Have a plan and a team.
Much like S v. B, I think the plot will shift about halfway through. The two can coexist and form a great strategy for your brand,whether you’re a startup, SMB or enterprise. Google is beginning to weigh social that is social signals as a bigger factor in their ranking algorithm. So it only makes sense if you have the financial and human resources to try both. I cannot stress this enough:you have to have patience for these strategies to become successful. I highly recommend that you have other advertising planned, even if it’s paid; i.e., traditional (TV, Radio), AdWords, email marketing etc. Some of you use door hangers, that’s cool too. Whatever works. In order to get an edge over your competition you can outspend them or outsmart them. With that being said, study them and don’t be afraid to try something new. If not you’ll never know your potential.
Source: Market Motive
All DC Comics images are from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Image featuring Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg are from Carlos Serrao and Reuters, edited by EM360 Digital