There are many articles floating around out there discussing a move from search engine optimization (SEO) to social media optimization (SMO) when it comes to Internet marketing. Personally, I don’t buy that there has to be any such move. In fact, social media and SEO seem to have more in common than they have differences. And those similarities are often their most important elements.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways SEO and social media are similar, and why you should still consider both in your Internet marketing plan. Here are five similarities I see between SEO and social media:


1. Both revolve around quality content.

If you put out garbage you won’t build organic links and the relevant traffic they can bring when it comes to SEO. The same goes for using social media tools. If you don’t provide something worthwhile, you can’t expect people to tweet, “like,” or otherwise share your information.

2. Long-term success is merit-based (mostly).

This ties somewhat to the issue of quality content, but it goes beyond that. Both SEO and social media can offer quick results if you try to game the system. But long-term success tends to go to people or companies that really deserve it — the ones providing that quality content, ones who do something innovative or unique, or ones that simply give people what they want (from listening to them to entertaining them). A quick fix doesn’t offer the best ROI, because you have to constantly and aggressively do the work yourself when those who deserve the attention tend to get it more naturally, leaving them more time to grow their businesses in other ways. Is that always the case? Of course not. Some niches are simply over-saturated so not every deserving site will succeed in the long-term. And in other cases people get that success because they were first in a niche rather than being the best. But don’t aim to be the exception. Better your chances by being someone who really deserves that word-of-mouth and you can be more successful in both SEO and social media.

SEO and social media
SEO vs SMO: It can all work together. – Credit:

3. Both involve on-site and off-site efforts.

In SEO that means on-site optimization like titles that are clear and possibly keyword-rich alongside off-site work such as link-building efforts (like a guest post virtual blog tour). In social media your on-site work is creating the content that people want to share in most cases, while your off-site work is your engagement through social networks, microblogging services, and other social media tools.

4. They each involve trust.

In SEO a site’s trust can increase search engine rankings and traffic over time because trust can lead to more organic backlinks (and therefore better rankings). With social media, it’s more that your credibility in social media outlets leads to more traffic. If you’re seen as an “influential” person or company in social media, you might be able to get more people to click your links or share your links and material with their own audiences. Of course social media involves more than traffic. The more trust you have the more likely people will want to build relationships with you via social media as well.

5. Both build visibility and serve as stepping stones for building relationships.

Both search engine rankings and a social media presence can be relationship-starters. People often come across bloggers and businesses when they’re searching for something. As a freelancer, I get dozens of new contacts each month this way which is good for professional networking. Social media takes it a step further. Not only can you be found via search in social media outlets, but you also open up your referral base where others can make the introductions.

Not only can SEO and social media coexist, but they can be completely complementary as well. Rather than picking and choosing, why not figure out ways to make your content marketing and other promotional efforts effective in both areas?

What about you? Do you see any other similarities between SEO and social media? Do you think it has to be an either-or situation? How do you use both in promoting your business? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments below.



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