Marketing in the Modern World: SEO & SMO

Marketing has come a long way from billboards and brochures. While the latter are still relevant and help businesses sell more, digital marketing is becoming the go-to solution for businesses that don’t operate primarily online.

This modern marketing solution is what’s powering a lot of small businesses who couldn’t have made their mark on the local market without the help of SEO. Even before local SEO became a trend and Google My Business was introduced, local businesses like cafes, hotels, etc were using social media to reach out to the maximum audience while also connecting with them.

However, many still wonder if they can forgo one of the two options: SEO and SMO and still expect the results. It’s no surprise that smartphones and applications have been keeping people logged in 24×7 and it’s far more easier for brands to reach people now. So, is there really any space for Search Engine Optimization given that the world is moving to the mobile revolution?

This post explores the basics of SEO, SMO, what their process entails, their purpose and how they support each other, and if you can really survive on only one of them.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization involves the entire process that focuses on increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to a website while also pushing up on the search engine results pages.

A crucial part of modern Digital Marketing, SEO is fairly simple and straightforward and helps websites in finding maximum number of visitors/audience. Contrary to belief, it definitely won’t make your website famous overnight but with gradual ranking improvement, it will help your website rank above your competitors and get visibility.

Naturally, it’s best to have your website rank on the first page Google and even more spectacular if you rank on the #1. The higher up you are on the search engine results pages, the more people will see you.

You may have a website but what use is it if it’s just lying useless and idle on the internet, with no audience. SEO helps people find your website with relevant queries by indexing it.

SEO is even more vital if you are selling online because unless people locate your website, you won’t be able to make a sale.

The Purpose of SEO

In SEO, visibility/exposure is everything. It primarily focuses on:

  1. Ranking your website higher up on the Search Engine Results Pages
  2. Getting you maximum amount of relevant traffic

If your SEO plan is getting only one of the above-stated results, then you seriously need to reconsider your strategies.

Let’s take this example to better understand why your SEO needs to rank your website and get your quality, relevant traffic too: You are an Italian shoemaker and seller supplying primarily to Italy and neighbouring regions in Europe. What if you rank on the #1 position on Google but people visit your website with the intention of finding jewellery, a product that you don’t sell (means that your website is ranking for a wrong keyword). Or what if your website is on the first page of Google but buried under 7 of your competitors?

In simpler words, your SEO campaign needs to get your website better ranking (preferably among the first 3 on the organic search results page) and relevant traffic so you actually get reliable leads, convert them and nurture your audience.

It’s almost like finding a virtual market or audience online that you can monetize tactically.

Search Engine Results Pages involves a lot of paid search results too but SEO only influences the organic search results that follow the sponsored links (PPC results on Google).


What Does The Process Entail?

Contemporary SEO is a stable combination of on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

On Page Optimization includes the changes you make to your website on the surface and the ones that you have maximum control over. The process involves:

  1. SEO Friendly URL Structure (Sound inclusion of keywords in URLs instead of mindless keyword oriented URLs).
  2. Keyword rich title tags (depending on the content of the pages)
  3. Relevant and keyword rich headings that directly inform the reader what a particular page is about
  4. Alt text rich images (and keyword optimized)
  5. Speedy website so the page load time on desktop, mobile and other devices is significantly less
  6. Relevant internal links that help search engines navigate to other pages easily
  7. Spot-on content that answers the exact query your targeted audience is making (written not for search engines but for real users)

The Off-page Optimization techniques involve steps that don’t exactly take place on the website but still influence the ranking of the website positively. The conventional off-page SEO process involves:

  1. Link-building from authoritative sources using outreach program, guest blogging, etc
  2. Using Social Media to maintain active profiles and remain visible (Referral traffic)
  3. Social Bookmarking

Numerous other techniques like Blog submission, article submission, answering questions on authoritative forums like Quora, etc help website get referral traffic too.

Off Page SEO often thrives on the idea that if certainly high number of people are talking about a particular website or content or are linking back to it, then it must be something substantial and worth showing higher up in the Search Engine Results Pages.

The Dark Side of SEO

The leading search engine Google has now made it a priority to only show results that cater to the searcher’ needs. It has been using sophisticated algorithms and updates to keep the spammers and black hat SEO professionals from manipulating the results.

However, most SEO campaigns still focus primarily on ranking a website without considering what their targeted audience is actually looking for. One of the biggest challenges in SEO is unhealthy and illogical use of keywords that often leads websites to having thousands of duplicated inner pages.

Sometimes, certain websites end up abusing keywords, make low-quality spam links or irrelevant links that add zero value to the website’ domain authority.

The biggest flaw that Google frequently advices webmasters and SEO professionals against is creating content that doesn’t satiate the users’ query. Content is how you optimize your website with as it lets you use keywords strategically. But there have been plenty of penalties against shallow and plagiarized content. Unfortunately, a maximum number of content creators online are just resulting in low-quality rip-offs of content trendsetters.

People often use black-hat SEO techniques to manipulate the search engines’ rankings and push their website up.

But this ultimately causes loss only to the website owner/business since irrelevant or low-quality traffic won’t exactly earn the website sufficient ROI.

What is Social Media Optimization?

Social Media Optimization is a lot like Search Engine Optimization but it primarily focuses on utilizing the social media platforms for growing awareness for a brand/business. SMO shares the end goals with SEO and prioritizes getting more customer engagement on the social media platforms while driving referral traffic to the primary website.

In simpler words, it’s how you optimize and market your business on the social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

The Purpose of SMO

Most experts confirm that expansive SMO campaigns are designed to help websites get higher ranking and a second chance of finding the audience they need.

But brands also rely on optimizing their Social Media channels for connecting with their existing audience to retain them, find more portals to distribute their fresh content and grow referral traffic.

Consider this: People seldom look at the second page of Search Engine Results Page. In fact, they don’t even open links ranking below the #3 or #5 position. So, being active on social media and optimizing it helps websites find another change at improving their ranking by distributing their content better on platforms other than the Search Engines.

LinkedIn and Twitter are claimed to be among the top B2B social media platforms and often help in driving actionable leads and change throughout industry. More casual and informal social networks like Facebook, Instagram, etc are better known for sparking conversations among brands and the audience.

What Does The SMO Process Entail?

Social Media Optimization strategies focus on bringing more attention and engagement to a website through:

Social Media Integration with the website

  • Make active social profiles in your website’s name and link back to it
  • Optimize your Social Media Profiles by adding a logo, spot-on company bio, relevant links and using apt hashtags and mentions
  • Add Social Media buttons to the website so visitors can easily click on the buttons and reach your social media to stay connected.
  • Add a link to your website on your Social Media.
  • Add a social media content sharing button to your website.
  • Let your visitors sign in through social media account logins and offer them a richer user-experience.
  • Use keywords in your social media but make sure that they don’t appear stuffed or out of place.
  • Communicate with your audience on social media and keep them engaged by sharing fresh content on your best performing social media platforms.

Social Media Optimization thrives on the idea that while numbers of likes, comments and shares may not really impact the ranking signals but it sure may bring your content to people’s attention.

Since people are now 24×7 online with social media apps, it’s particularly easy for brands and businesses to stay connected with their audience on social media and expand their market tactfully.

The Dark Side of SMO

A 2014 estimate revealed that around 11% of Facebook accounts are fake/spam. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and several other social media platforms face the same issue. In fact, many influencers leveraging the power of social media have often come under fire for using spam/bot followers and fake engagement.

Even though SMO is empowering for brands and portrays numerous promising opportunities for expanding your market and improving your ranking, spam followers are not exactly worth the effort. You may have trouble finding your own audience or may narrow it down too deep which may hurt your chances of getting sufficient ROI.

Moreover, some brands have a hard time consistently managing their social media and sometimes, their risque campaigns often end up attracting ire of socially responsible circles.

SEO and SMO complement one-another

Your website will still survive if you invest in top-notch SEO and skip the SMO but you’ll only be doing your own website a favor if you let people find you on Social Media.

Search Engines spit out thousands and millions of results when you search a keyword but only the first three results receive the maximum traffic. So, if your website is on the 7 number of Page 1 or on the next page then you can forget about getting the maximum traffic.

Distributing your website and fresh content on social media is what gives you another chance to tap into the potential of social media platforms as they have millions of users from across the world. Search Engine Optimization puts your website on the search engine map, helps you find more visibility. But if you are keen on maintaining a relationship with your audience and want to spark a conversation, nothing works better than a personalized social media campaign that resonates how your audience feels.

You can even up your Social Media game and start running leads ads on specific platforms like Facebook to grow your leads and get more conversions.

Summing Up

Search Engine Optimization refers to modern craft of pushing the rank of a website up on the search engine results pages. Social Media focuses on maximising the exposure your profiles can get on Social Media platforms for higher brand engagement and maximum referral traffic.

Both of these are indispensable to the modern digital marketing as they let webmasters and marketers connect with a whole new dynamic of audience and expand their markets.

Both have billions of users that help businesses in promoting their business and furthering their cause by boosting not only the number of people who find the website/profile but also engage with the content published.

However, SEO is all about bringing a website to the top rank on Google, Yahoo and Bing and while the process attracts leads, Social Media Optimization helps marketers in distributing their content better and driving engagement rates up.

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