We’ve attended a number of SEO and Social Media conferences and events over the past few years, and one of the general trends we’ve seen discussed is a convergence between “traditional” Search Engine Optimisation (by which we mean a more statistical, technical, number crunching approach looking purely at numbers of links, keyword density, anchor text links, page ranks etc etc…) and PR.
This is in no small part to do with Google’s continuing algorithm updates – most recently the various iterations of ‘Panda‘, which place a higher emphasis on good quality content which is genuinely liked and shared by users via social media channels.
The emerging manta for SEOs in the last few years has been “Content is King“. Content marketing – or article marketing – has been around for a long time – however until the last few years it was still within the remit of the ‘SEO person’ to do it, which (without wanting to discredit the writing skills of SEOs), usually meant badly-written, link-stuffed articles being submitted to lots of article sites.
A lot of those article sites have been hit, and hit badly by Panda – and “article marketing” is dying a (probably well-deserved) death. However generating good quality content, and sharing that content effectively, is still as important as ever.
For that reason we’ve seen SEO and PR converge towards a sort of “digital marketing” middle ground.
As such – the role of Social Media marketing in SEO has sometimes been confused, or misunderstood. Is it an SEO service – with the generation of thousands of ‘like’s’, ‘plus 1′s’, ‘retweets’ and other indicators of a positive social being the responsibility of an SEO person? Or is Social Media a tool for PR and branding people helping to spread brand messages and good quality content to a defined demographic, targeting specific communities and channels?
If you ask anyone who claims to be a “white hat” SEO and they will say very firmly it is the latter. However there are a number of companies out there offering the opportunity to purchase tweets, Facebook fans (and likes), Google+1′s and so on – so there are clearly other organisations out there who are buying Social Media as an SEO service.
Of course – marketing good quality content effectively via social media channels will generate links, and will therefore help your SEO activity – but does that mean it is part of the same discipline or something separate?
A little while ago I put these questions to Claire Stokoe, our Social Media trainer at the time (now at Admast a Digital Marketing Agency in Newcastle < there’s a nice anchor-text link for you Claire).
Here’s a short video with her thoughts (and a transcript below). Have a watch, and tell us what you think in the comments section below….
Social Media vs SEO Video – Transcript
Colin: Today we’re talking to Claire Stokoe again. Claire, we want to ask you about how Social Media is different to traditional SEO
Claire: I think that the main point about it is that SEO is all about links, search engines, spiders and that sort of thing, whereas the majority of Social Media is about people and conversations, and that is the main difference. SEO is very much about technical issues whereas social media is the people behind all of those conversations and the people behind the links really, so they are very very different – which is something I hammer on about all the time!
Colin: OK, so are there people who try to sell Social Media as a technical service as opposed to a PR service, and if so, should they be avoided?
Claire: I think that’s the way it is sold. It’s generally sold to an SEO manager or a technical department manager, rather than to the PR department manager, and I think that’s one of the main problems because its then a lot of the deliverables that come along with Social Media are then seen as being sort of “hung on” to an SEO – and SEO deliverables are totally different to Social Media deliverables.
Colin: So can the two work together though – can Social Media activity help you with your SEO and vice versa?
Claire: Yeah – things like guest blogging – for instance if you wanted to get 30 links or 60 links to a website or a landing page – blog outsourcing, so getting some great content written which can then be pushed out within a Social Media market via Digg, Reddit and a wide number of tools…
Colin: And that all generates links?
Claire: A huge amount of links, yeah – and that in turn helps your SEO – so it can go hand in hand but…
Colin: But they should be treated as separate disciplines?
Claire: Very different yes!
Colin: Thank you
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