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SEO is from Mars, SMM is from Venus
tedster




msg:4214512
 10:54 pm on Oct 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

The emergence of Social Media Marketing (SMM) has created something of a split in the SEO community.

For example, many old time technical SEO people wish that Twitter would just go away. They have spent many years learning how to get rankings for their website with technically sound changes to their site's architecture, content and backlinks - and they don't want to mess around with that soft, schmoozy social media thing.

"What's the big deal - all those links are no-followed anyway, even on blog comments!"

To this type of SEO mind-set, when Social Media Marketing people speak, it sounds like they're just shoveling smoke. These folks want the tech talk - all that good "Mars-style" food for the left brain. They don't care for all that "Venus-style" right brain nonsense!

The Mars-mind SEO is puzzled that Google would take so much interest in Social Media. And yet, the Mars-mind has also been screaming for years that Google should not use backlinks as such a big part of the ranking algorithm. Guess what - Google has their new source of ranking signals!

Many web marketers got it early on and they embraced social marketing. Yes, it is more challenging to measure. And it's also more like traditional offline marketing - it's all about generating buzz, engaging your market, listening to feedback. In short it's about other people, meeting them (at least virtually) and making some friends. And now this whole phenomenon is coming at us like the stream of a firehose.

Here's a quote from a blog today that I loved - and this is a technical SEO blogging here, not just some blabbering shoveler of smoke (yes, I hate them, too):

Now, let's just stop for a second and try to FORGET about links, social media front pages, traffic and all that stuff that we can't live without. Let's get back to the basics: to people.

Building contacts with real people is the most important step in promoting your business. You can't do everything yourself. If you think you can, you will fail. You need people who will follow you and trust in you. You need people who will bring friends to your business and who will get the word out when you need it.

[myblogguest.com...]

This is Venus talk, not Mars talk. I think there are a lot of bewildered old-school SEOs who need to get this message - at least to the point of partnering with someone who does have the social mind-set natively and can take on that side of marketing.

Google is watching and measuring social media. You can't dummy things up in SMM by simply broadcasting your marketing message on Twitter, Facebook, a blog or YouTube. If you don't really have the human relationships for support, or you can't maintain them, then your "broadcast message" will not "go viral". It will not generate the kind of secondary, follow-up signals (including editorial backlinks!) that then show Google a real interest in your core message from around the marketplace. You just become the TV commercial that gets lost in a Tivo fast forward.

This is a paradigm shift that not every Mars mind can make. Ever notice in earlier days how heavily male the SEO population was? And now, how the social media scene has many, many female bloggers - and even "stars"? I don't mean exclusively, not all. But I did choose Mars and Venus for a good reason, here.

Google does reward the site that has both Mars and Venus marketing going for it - effective SEO and effective SMM. It's getting harder and harder to do effective SEO with out some Venus signals in the mix.

Do I know Google's secret sauce here - the recipe for mixing Venus signals into the ranking recipe? Hardly. But I do know that they're in there. Too much Mars and not enough Venus in your SEO is like a recipe with all meat and no vegetables. You need the vegetables to live, but you CAN live without any meat at all. So... meat is from Mars and vegetables are from Venus?

[edited by: tedster at 12:22 am (utc) on Oct 10, 2010]

 

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4214519
 11:34 pm on Oct 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Social media is to spam what SEO is to good rankings imo. There is a crowd of butterflies that is always hyper active on the popular site of the moment that it pays to stay away from. You know you're near wh3n teh sp33lin' b3g1ns 2 sux.

tedster




msg:4214521
 11:39 pm on Oct 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

As someone who lives in both worlds, I've noticed that SMM and SEO people are often isolated from each other. SMM people don't even know names like "Danny Sullivan" and they don't even know about PubCon or SES. And yet they still add great marketing value to the online businesses that they work with.

On the other side, many SEOs have never heard of the SAMMY Awards, or OMMA, or even the Forrester Wave quarterly report. And yet a good SEO still brings in awesome value, too.

Bring the two worlds together for your online business and you've got a very good thing going.

blaze




msg:4214543
 12:07 am on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

What is even mote interesting is how this reflects on the chipping away of search engine usage.

tedster




msg:4214561
 12:36 am on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is a branch of SEO called ORM (online reputation management). I bring up the topic in this thread because I've been somewhat involved with ORM for almost nine years - and because it definitely requires both technical SEO and good SMM to have an optimal effect.

Just recently I was close to a situation with a product recall - the kind of thing that generates backlinks that many be numerous, but you would rather do without, you know?

In addition to getting out in front with lots of well SEO'd content on the company side of things, the social media engagement also responded well to the real human concerns involved. Several months later, if you search on the company name, the overall impression you get is not one of a bad reputation but rather a company who cares and did the right thing. And all those backlinks that were at first very negative in their effect now have a very different, moderated impact.

I've also been involved in person-to-person negotiations where a detractor agreed to remove their negative content. Even some situations where community criticism made a detractor look very foolish and they had to make a change. In addition, all kinds of positive messages on various properties were given a nice ranking boost through intentional SEO attention.

If the company's response to the reputation challenge had been technical SEO only, the positive result might still have been achieved, but it would have taken many months longer, maybe years.

sutips




msg:4214589
 1:52 am on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

The common thread between SEO and SEM is the chase of numbers.

SEO is after bigger traffic to a site
SEM is after the most number of followers/fans

And both are not effective if it's not about engagement.

For SEO, you'd want targeted traffic who'll respond to your offers and improve conversion.

For SEM, it's about engaging with your followers/fans. Not just someone who'll follow you, but who will really interact with you - click on the links you post, answer when you post a question, retweet your post, like or share your FB page status update.

But even with SEM, many are caught up with the chase of the most numbers.

austtr




msg:4214596
 2:29 am on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Ted... some food for thought (pun intended)

Over the years we have seen the next big thing come along that supposedly ticks all Google's boxes. If memory serves me correctly, Matt Cutts once said how great blogs were and how Google loved them. Now the majority of blogs are just so much auto-generated flotsam drifting around in an ocean of no-followed crud.

IMO, if there is one thing that Google ALWAYS does, sooner or later, it is to rub out any gain that comes from webmaster manipulation. I'm trying hard to not become an old dinosaur set in outdated ways and ideas, but I have this uneasy feeling that success with social media has to be built on deliberate webmaster manipulation before anything happens.

It takes a conscious decision to launch a FB group that syncs with my primary income stream, I have to actively solicit for strangers to follow me, I have to generate "stuff" that gives them a reason to follow me, I have to decide how I'm going to drive those eyeballs to my money pages ... etc etc etc.

To my way of thinking, that is all a very deliberate effort to manipulate an outcome that drives traffic to a website. As I said earlier, Google's past history shows that sooner or later they will rub out any gains seen to be coming from non-genuine manipulation.

I'd be interested in arguments that say social media is a logical extension of traditional SEO that influences Google search results.

However, I do understand that social media is all about driving traffic direct to your site without the need of a Google ranking result. As has been mentioned on several occasions in earlier posts, that is going to be very dependent on your niche. A Britney Spears underwear malfunction will probably generate more interest that a dissertation on the architectural styles of Christopher Wren.

aristotle




msg:4214672
 10:44 am on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

If Google is looking for quality content, I doubt that they will find much on sites like Facebook and Twitter. That's not where I go when I'm looking for information.

phranque




msg:4214677
 11:05 am on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

when i go to facebook it's only for social interaction and keeping up on my friends and family.
when i go to twitter, i'm not "looking for information" per se, but good information appears all day without asking for it.
when i'm "looking for information" i use a search engine.

moTi




msg:4214742
 4:40 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've noticed that SMM and SEO people are often isolated from each other.

not without reason. in many job advertisements i browse through, meanwhile the required skills are seo/sem combined with smm. i think that's a mistake on the part of the company. they look for an online marketing allrounder, but in fact, most of all people aren't competent in both areas.
why? well, it's like marketing and sales - or programming and web design. two very different areas if you look closely at it. you need a very different set of skills to be successful in one of those fields. sem is like the geeky technical and strategical back-end with mostly one-way communication whereas smm is the front-end that's all about social competence and directly interacting with the customer. so, two completely separate areas really. two different kinds of job.

very inspiring article btw.

JoeSinkwitz




msg:4214745
 4:55 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Phranque, that is exactly how I feel, though I will admit I don't stumble on nearly enough "good" information outside of search.

Planet13




msg:4214759
 5:39 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

What is even mote interesting is how this reflects on the chipping away of search engine usage.


Since I run an ecommerce site, what I am most interested is what the "buyers" use. From what I understand, conversion rates from people using google or shopping listings / shopping engines is still WAY above anything that is derived from facebook or twitter, UNLESS their is already an established fan base that is just waiting for either a new product or limited time sale or some such thing.

I would imagine that if you are comparing apples to apples (say, conversion rates for google adwords to facebook ads), then the conversion rate is probably still incredibly lopsided in favor of google adwords. Would love to see any data on this, though.

So in short, I think that social media is great for brand management, and for advertising. Hence, it is beneficial to have someone with a strong marketing background working in social media.

Traditional SEO needs someone with the technical background and know how.

Ideally, in terms of employability, one would have both a strong background in marketing and in traditional SEO.

tedster




msg:4214797
 6:28 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think that social media is great for brand management

Yes it is. And Google has an algorithmic way of determining what character strings represent "a brand" entity, right? Maybe they have gone further and now have a "brand strength" or "brand authority" signal?

Something the general SEO community hasn't pinned down showed it's face in the 2009 Vince update [webmasterworld.com] and then in the 2010 Mayday update [webmasterworld.com]. This is one place where I feel Google takes social media signals into the ranking mix.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4214871
 9:29 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Spam is great for brand management too, if it didn't work it wouldn't happen. That doesn't mean it will rank well however.

I do agree that a mention on certain social media sites is worth its weight in traditional pagerank, sometimes even without the link. Spam and thin affiliate sites are less likely to have a well managed, long term growth, type of facebook or twitter account. Those are signals in and of themselves.

aristotle




msg:4214878
 9:52 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes it is. And Google has an algorithmic way of determining what character strings represent "a brand" entity, right? Maybe they have gone further and now have a "brand strength" or "brand authority" signal?

Something the general SEO community hasn't pinned down showed it's face in the 2009 Vince update [webmasterworld.com] and then in the 2010 Mayday update [webmasterworld.com]. This is one place where I feel Google takes social media signals into the ranking mix.


If this works to improve Google rankings and traffic, then sites like Facebook and Twitter will soon be invaded by thousands of spammers.

tedster




msg:4214885
 10:18 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Both Facebook and Twitter are already polluted with spammers and spambots. Doesn't matter - their effect can be filtered out because the natural follow-on signals from real social engagement cannot be easily faked, just as a balanced backlink profile cannot be faked.

There really is another mindset at work, and I'm struggling here to communicate it clearly. Because it is truly another online marketing paradigm and not traditional SEO, it's not easy to make the shift. It took me a while, that's for sure.

In another thread in the Twitter forum about their change of CEO, one reply asked "why does a website needs a CEO?" That's the old paradigm asking, not being able to think of a website as a business in the fullest sense.

A business needs partners, allies, friends. A website? Not so much, especially under the past paradigm - the one that Google has begun to dismantle. And how do you find partners, allies, and friends at the scale online marketing really needs? Social media, that's how.

aristotle




msg:4214889
 10:45 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply tedster. I'm a programmer by profession, and my websites are non-commercial, so I know very little about marketing, and in fact have never had any interest in it. I guess that's why I'm having trouble understanding you. But that's okay, because I'm sure that others here will benefit.

tedster




msg:4214898
 11:14 pm on Oct 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Exactly, aristotle. I've noticed since the early 90s that the web involves people with at least three different backgrounds: programming, design and marketing. For a web business to really thrive, these three aspects need to inform each other.

But some types of websites can do just what the owner wants them to do without any concern for blind spots in other areas, and that's find too. The web is a very big place! But it's these differences that sometimes cause disconnects in our discussions here. We have members here who own a business and couldn't personally create an HTML page. We have brilliant affiliate marketers who are extremely weak in business management. And so on.

In this case, a huge portion of the online world is heavily involved in social media - and Google is clearly watching closely and even buying big chunks of that data. That is a blind spot for many long time website owners that I think needs to be pointed out.

roodle




msg:4214914
 12:05 am on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem for me is that SMM just doesn't cover all the bases, whereas SEO is "neutral".

With traditional SEO it doesn't matter whether your website is about selling super cool mega widgets from outer space or building super niche little-heard-of micro widgets underground. The techniques to get your site to the top are pretty much the same.

SMM is really only oriented to certain business sectors a/o themes that people who sit around using FB or Twitter all day want to "like". IMO many real world non-mainstream businesses have no interest a/o no time to be involved in social notworking. It's just not universal.

Interesting debate anyway.

milosevic




msg:4215056
 9:57 am on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Great article and I agree with a lot of what is said.

I agree with roodle, a site can have massive problems with SEO such as not being spiderable, not using page titles etc which will cripple the site's overall performance - but there's not (at the moment) any real social media equivalent of this sort of technical problem.

As in, you can get 100s of tweets and likes for a page on your site - but if Google can't index it, it won't help you be found in search.

Certainly with some primarily b2b clients, any interest in social media is likely to be very limited even well into the future, particularly due to the sheer dullness of their product/industry.

roodle




msg:4215059
 10:11 am on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

particularly due to the sheer dullness of their product/industry

I didn't want to put it quite like that, but yes!

SMM is a limited playing field. You can have a good game within those bounds if that's what works for you, but then there's the rest of the world outside that too...

HuskyPup




msg:4215110
 12:15 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

particularly due to the sheer dullness of their product/industry.


My widgets are very costly and although I have recently tried FB etc it seems that no one wants to engage in anything since the product is way outside either their affordability or interest to simply chat about WHEREAS there are many, mostly women orientated I believe, forum boards discussing these widgets in depth.

My widget trade, mostly male dominated, in general do not need to discuss the products but occasionally go to the one of the very few successful forum boards in my industry if they need information...or direct to myself!

SEOPTI




msg:4215132
 1:24 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

MC recently confirmed nofollow links do not pass PR, do not pass trust, do not pass anchor text, they are useless. So I won't go ahead and spam twitter with my automatic feeds or create hundreds of facebook profiles. It just makes no sense if a product is not unique.

Creating forum profiles is a better strategy, your site gets trust.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4215136
 1:46 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

MC recently confirmed nofollow links do not pass PR, do not pass trust, do not pass anchor text, they are useless.

Googlebot follows them and your link graph includes them even if they provide no "pagerank". Hardly useless.

I once worked on a fan site for an amazing band called Tyr and its frontman Heri Joensen and without social the results would have been negligible. For some topics social is a must, people can't look for what they don't even know they like yet and who looks for the words "tyr" or "Heri" anyway? Nobody without social driving people to want to know more, that's who.

Know thy subject and use your tools accordingly.

viggen




msg:4215144
 2:04 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don`t use twitter, but i do use Facebook allot, and exclusive for business. In my niche (books) Facebook is a dream come true, it never has been so easy to get into contact with Publisher, Authors or reviewers.

Since i use FB i have direct contact with basically every sales exec from the publishing houses and all the relevant authors of my field. If I need a quick author interview, well just send Mr. XYZ a private message, and cc his agent and publisher one too, as i said a dream come true, might not work for everyone but for me and my niche it defenitely is working.

Since i use FB actively for my business, i can produce more high quality content than ever before, SE loves it, people love it, win win...

...another aspect for me is that i have now with my active FB page a much easier case with advertisers.

...to me it is really a bit difficult to understand how so many people seem so against SMM, for me its just another channel i can tap into, and many times with SMM i tap into a channel i havent reached with SEO...

alika




msg:4215148
 2:17 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Social media ties in well with SEO marketing. They are mutually beneficial.

I have a new site where social media links helped push the site up in the search engines. Only links are from my other sites. And Twitter and Facebook. In a week it's in the top 10 of its main keyword. Even went up to #1, but holding steady at number 4. I don't think I'd rank well that fast without using social media first to jumpstart the site as it is the easiest way to get links and site noticed by other people.

The bonus with SMM is that you get the feedback immediately about your content. I've had one of the acknowledged thinkers in our industry praising a post I did on Twitter, and as a result, that post got a lot of RTs, trackbacks and links from other blogs and sites. That showed me there's something worthwhile in SMM

HuskyPup




msg:4215150
 2:31 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

to me it is really a bit difficult to understand how so many people seem so against SMM


I'm not against it, I just can't seem to get an angle on making it work for me when I am not in direct contact with the end consumer and my products are not huge household names.

Certainly I would like to explain to consumers why their supplier ought to supply my products rather than a rivals and I do try to do this on our existing sites however...that's when their potential supplier will give all kinds of reasons for not using me...like paying for the darned thing!

netmeg




msg:4215183
 4:05 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think of SMM as the logical extension of the old fashioned door to door type salesman. Joe SalesDude had a route, and he would travel along the route to his regular buyers, and he would sit down and shoot the bull with them, and show them the new products, and listen to their concerns, acting as the "face" of a company that, pre-internet, they probably knew very little about. In general, he would work these back-and-forth relationships, smoothing over issues and selling product. And if he was a good salesman, his customers grew to trust him, and think of him as a problem solver, and maybe even a friend. And because of that, they'd refer other friends to him, and if a new sales dude came to town, well they might listen, but they'd stick with good old Joe, because he put a friendly face to the unknown.

That's what I use it for. Most of my clients are B2B, with some of the boringest products in the world, but there's always *some* aspect I can come up with to build a community around.

The minute I forget that there's actual human being types sitting at those keyboards, is the minute I'm out of business. And my clients along with me.

gouri




msg:4215202
 4:40 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a new site where social media links helped push the site up in the search engines.


alika,

Did you use Twitter and Facebook as your social media sites to get links from?

Also, I am not very familiar with social media so I am trying to understand: What types of links in social media sites are helpful?

Did you link to pages on your website from the social media sites and did that draw people to your site?

HuskyPup




msg:4215225
 5:22 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think of SMM as the logical extension of the old fashioned door to door type salesman.


Yep, I get that and it's a good analogy for many businesses however what about the business that only has maybe 20 full time customers and 20 occasional customers buying perhaps only 2-3 times per annum?

I have only a couple of customers in the UK, a couple in Germany, Italy, Spain, Middle East, Japan, several in the USA etc and they are all in regular e-mail/web/phone contact with us since they are continually buying millions of Dollars worth of products from us throughout the year with relationships going back a long time, the longest being 40+ years with many in the 20-30 year band when we expanded our production capability during the early 1980s.

I'm sure there must be other companies like us who want to give Joe Public more reliable info yet do not actually want to deal direct with them, apart for the web info we post, since it could lead to all kinds of cross-conflicts and expenditure on our part.

Is there amyone out there in the same position as I am?

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