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SEO is from Mars, SMM is from Venus

     

tedster

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

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



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]

tedster

6:05 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Husky, that sounds like a good situation for a blog.

trillianjedi

7:23 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member trillianjedi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Great post Ted and I'm glad you've made it.

Really, the whole concept of marketing a website should simply be under the banner of "marketing". It encompasses many disciplines of which SEO and SMM are only two strands and not the complete picture.

The reality is, whilst Mars and Venus might be considered to be "big planets" worth studying, we actually live in an entire and wholesomely complex solar system.

There are very very very few people that I have ever met, either online or at events like PubCon that truly "get" SEO in my opinion. It's an equally small number of people that I have ever met that truly "get" SMM. Frequently one set understand complex algorithms, the other set understand people. One person can never possibly be good at both. Maybe an average Jack of all Trades.

I think there is a huge opportunity for a marketing agency to make some strategic hires in several niches in order to bolster up services for web-based clients by covering all of these bases.

The alternative is for every talented SEO to partner up with an equally talented SMM.

All of the truly talented SEO's that I know and respect are already doing the latter and have been doing so for some time.

tedster

7:35 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



What's interesting to me is that I began with SEO in the mid 90s, soon after I built a few websites. It just seemed like a natural evolution, but that evolution didn't stop at algorithms and technical exploration.

My second major client soon discovered that SEO generated traffic was revealing an entirely new market they had never considered. And so this SEO adventure evolved into business process redesign. And funny thing - SMM also leads to changes in business process when it's done well.

Another overlap is also quite clear to me. Both SEO and SMM must actually BEGIN in the business porocess. Otherwise SEO pulls in traffic that does the business little good, and SMM generates a babble of voices that has no positive effect on the business KPIs that really matter.

trillianjedi

7:39 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member trillianjedi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



revealing an entirely new market they had never considere


Well, Harrods in London started as a corner-shop greengrocers. It's just business at the end of the day - set up a good location and build a brand and generally you find you can sell pretty much anything to pretty much anyone.

The online world is really not all that different to a traditional bricks and mortar business. Both require marketing, and there's always more than one angle, and frequently that one angle will expose the others.

roodle

10:05 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



As I'm reading these posts I'm wondering whether there really is much overlap between SEO and SMM. Doesn't it depend purely on whether links to, and mentions of, your brand/business/"thing" on social websites really do count for something in search engine algorithms? Is there any proof of this yet? I'm getting a confused message over what's followed and what's no-followed.

As netmeg said, the rest is all about door-to-door sales and making a noise about what you're doing. That can drive traffic but it's not SEO to me. And even though door-to-door has existed for years, it's mostly the same old type of companies that use it. I expect we'll start to see trends in which kind of companies typical use SMM and which ignore it. Hopefully Google & co. will pick up on that and adjust algorithms accordingly.

tedster

10:15 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



For some time here, we've been talking about Google using both traffic and brand authority as ranking signals. And lately many threads here have been puzzling over a ranking algorithm that doesn't seem to behave the way members have come to expect.

Maybe the disconnect between SEO and SMM is not so big at all. If any action at all optimizes your search engine rankings, then it is SEO by definition, right?

roodle

10:43 pm on Oct 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



If any action at all optimizes your search engine rankings, then it is SEO by definition, right?

It does if that's how you define it! I always understood SEO as optimisation of websites for search engines. Am I alone?....alone........alone...

Robert Charlton

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

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I always understood SEO as optimisation of websites for search engines. Am I alone?....alone........alone...

You're not in Kansas anymore. Google is now looking at more factors beyond literal keyword matching, PageRank, and anchor text. ;)

In this March 2010 BBC video... [news.bbc.co.uk...] ...Eric Schmidt, beginning at about 2:20 in, discusses the part he expects social to display in the Google algo.

...social cues... social maps... social information... to produce better decisions... so the social information we're getting now is just another input of better ranking. If your friend liked it, it's probably more relevant to you, so we should rank it higher.

I'm not suggesting you take SEO advice from Eric Schmidt, but I would keep an ear open.

It's clear that Google is monitoring social media and general buzz. That doesn't mean they're just simplistically counting Retweets, though. They're undoubtedly also looking at user behavior, and search behavior, and they're mining information on the web in all sorts of ways. The above from Eric Schmidt, btw, might be read to apply only to searchers who are logged and are social network participants themselves, but I think it's probably more complex than that.

aristotle

1:18 am on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



So if you can ignite some social media "buzz" about your site, then its Google rankings might improve because of the enhanced "branding"?

FranticFish

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

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



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


And yet pubs/bars, restaurants, clubs, conferences and parties throughout the world are full of people 'talking shop' about the dullest of businesses and products. Everybody does it to at least some extent, and everything is dull to someone.

Over the years I've had a few clients in niches not well represented online (at least not a few years back). Those that were early adopters of websites and SEO did very well.

I think the same thing will happen in Social Media. Awareness in the business community is growing.

It is a huge learning curve and a huge thinking shift - at least for me as my knowledge and approach has always been more technical to now - but it's the future. Early adopters are doing extremely well, even in small and niche industries.

phranque

12:43 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



apropos of ted's thoughts regarding the connection between SMM and SEO...

Content in Google News: Friends:
http://www.google.com/support/news/bin/answer.py?answer=1039361 [google.com]

James2

1:17 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I think it's a really interesting view.

To me it appears that SEO is a structured approach of guesswork to appease Google while SMM is based around more of a cycle of social sites on a more 'personal' basis.

It will be interesting to see if facebook, twitter etc go the distance or if they eventually get put into categories. For example, myspace is good for bands as you can put tracks online whereas with facebook you have to use video so perhaps bands favour myspace. Or maybe they'll just be replaced by new ones.

I don't think all industries lend themselves to social media or blogs unless you have a demon in the marketing dept. While the SEO efforts could prove disasterous and can be measured tangibly (by traffic or PR), SMM could also be just as counter productive but more in making your business look like a dad dancing at a disco if done badly.

I think it will be interesting to see if people use google for everything as social sites may come and go and google seems (a bit but who knows) more permanant. Maybe people wouldn't want to put all their eggs in one basket and need to use different channels but it might be quite time consuming to have to change horses everytime something new comes out.

roodle

1:47 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



From Google:
Friends is an experimental section in the side column that helps you find news articles that your friends are sharing on Twitter.

Surely if they're your Twitter friends you already know what they've already shared!? Why look for articles you've potentially already seen, or not seen because you already ignored it? Looks like people had time to kill at the Googleplex...

SMM could also be just as counter productive but more in making your business look like a dad dancing at a disco if done badly.

I agree. How many times have you seen "0 people like this" on a page? It looks ridiculous. But does it mean the content of that page is any less valid or of lower quality than another with "200 people like this"?

epmaniac

2:09 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



i have a question

as landing pages are separate from internal search pages

would adding fb, twitter and addthis button help in seo of the page, or seo of the overall site?

i surely dont want my internal page to rank, but i could use all the backlinks i cant get,...in a dilemma

Robert Charlton

7:54 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I'm going to quote a more extended selection from the Friends experiment announcement mentioned above, so we have that in context here....

Friends
Friends is an experimental section in the side column that helps you find news articles that your friends are sharing on Twitter.

In the open text box, enter your Twitter username and click "Save." Google News will refresh, and you will see a list of updates containing news articles shared by the people you follow. Please note that Friends only shows you articles that can be found in Google News. If someone you follow has shared an article or a link that cannot be found in Google News, then you will not see that update in the Friends section.

tedster

10:29 pm on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I was just involved in a discussion that I think highlights the two different mindsets quite well.

Mars-mind wants to improve traffic for his blog. He finds a well respected blogger in his field and asks if there is a opportunity for him to guest blog, which will of course give him a strong editorial backlink.

Venus-mind wants to improve traffic for her blog. She finds a well respected blogger in her field and requests an interview that she will then publish. No direct backlink is automatically involved, although some might certainly pop up if the interview is any good.

But even more, there's a Venus quality in both approaches. Both situations have the possibility of creating a human connection that may have an indirect but long term benefit for both parties.

almighty monkey

1:11 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



The other thing is SMM is a great tool for maximizing visibility for content.

More eyeballs on your content = more people likely to link to your content.

More links of course = better SERPs.

The key, therefore, is to consider both SEO and SMM when creating content. So, as an example, you get developed a silly but fun little flash game. The SMM has ensured the branding is all over the page, and as an SEO, you've ensured the technically geared with keyword links back to the main pages your trying to get up in the SERPs. The SMM tweets it out to your built up list 10,000 followers. 5000 visit your site. 50 of those visitors are also bloggers. 10% of them put a post on their blog.

So, in this example -
Total traffic generated from Social Media - 5000 visitors
Total SEO value = 5 good quality backlinks.

Also, your kidding yourself if you think Google hasn't built a whole separate algorithm for the major social networks. They're monitoring them - see, for example, the Twitter inclusion in certain Serps. They're not just going to put the resources into gathering a dataset that size only to then ignore it.

Hugene

4:00 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Very interesting debate; thanks Tedster for starting it. I've recently started thinking about "new" media (social media) a lot. Here are some of my thoughts.

First, let me define what SEO is for me:
SEO is any action, be it on your webpage or other webpages, that aims at increasing the traffic to your page


My definition has an important generality: increase traffic to your site, this is said intentionally without specifying the traffic source. This source can be search engines and it could be social media platforms (FB, Twitter, blogs, etc...).

So, in my world view, Social Media Marketing (SMM) is actually still SEO, just a subset of it.

The way I see it, traditional-SEO is usually "under the hood" manipulations (HTML, linking structures, etc...). SMM is "over the hood" manipulations (Blog posts, FB posts, likes, friend connects, etc..). But together, this is still SEO.

SMM is you interacting with humans, with the goal of getting these humans to visit your site. Traditional-SEO is you interacting with the Algorithm, trying to get the SE to direct people to your site.

But they are both SEO, and the best analogy at hand is Forums: we forget about them, but they are still Social Media. We've been doing Forums for over 10 years. So SMM is nothing new.

I think all the above is pretty much common sense. But Tedster opened a whole new can of worms in his post: how does Google view SMM? How does SMM influence the algorithm? (how does SMM behave as traditional-SEO).

Here I think we need to be very very careful, for many reasons.
(1) we don't know what is in the algorithm, we need experiments.
(2) the algorithm is still a dumb counting machine, it can not really make sense of "human interactions" (I could be wrong, but I don't think I am here).
(3) and most importantly, if you fail to generate the easily countable "social interaction" (discussions, mentions, likes) you could be penalized (Google might think you "suck") whereas if you fail to implement an SEO technique, there is no penalty (but for the fact that your competitors that implement that technique will outrank you).

And point (3) I think is key, because today we are at point where everyone is asking "should I do SMM" and a lot of people are putting themselves in Twitter and FB just to share links.

All this long post just to say that, if you're putting yourself in Social Media just to share link, your shooting yourself in the foot big time.

You need to be on Social Media with the idea to drive human interest. So if your product is not suited, don't go there.

So the question should never be how does Google algo take in SMM? The question should be: will I interact well with customers? A possible algo boost is just a very very welcome bonus.

tedster

4:17 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Hugene, for someone who just recently started thinking about SMM, you certainly have real clarity on the topic. Thanks for that solid post!

if your product is not suited, don't go there

I would also add, don't go there unless your organization's culture is prepared and understands something about it. As you rightly observe, just using a social media venue to "push" a message is not going to be valuable.

Of course, there will be continued learning for any organization. But just running out into the town square and shouting at the top of your lungs can hurt, not help. Step 1 - just listen and learn from what others are already doing well and poorly.

roodle

4:49 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



@Hugene - nice post. I agree with you, but...

if you're putting yourself in Social Media just to share link, your shooting yourself in the foot big time.

Do you think simply having, for example, "add this" buttons across your site could have negative consequences?

ecmedia

5:36 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Huskypup, as a regular Joe, social media for me is about interaction with people and brands that I like. For instance, I became a fan of Lady Gaga on Facebook and the updates reached a point that I had to hide the updates from her. In other words, I am assuming that most of my readers will find me spammy if I contact them too often through social media. On the other hand, SEO gives control to users because they come when they want using a search engine.

HuskyPup

6:06 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)



social media for me is about interaction with people and brands that I like


Yep and this is precisely where I fall down since I do not want to interact with Joe Public since I have neither the time nor resources to do it, I would rather add stuff to FAQ pages.

My clients typically fall into three categories:

1. Wholesale full container load buyers who already know what they want, they know the various qualities they simply want the best prices and delivery. These wholesalers typically re-sell to retailers and sometime direct to the public.

2. Project specifiers, again who know precisely want they want and are most concerned with prices and delivery schedules. Projects can be anything from one container load to several hundred containers spread over two or three years.

3. Architectural practices, the most difficult group of people to work with! They want to know everything yet until they have a project for the widgets it's very rare one hears anything from them however they do hit the sites on a regular basis for technical specifications etc. Once the architect has decided which widget(s) they are going to use it is usually handed on to project specifiers.

What has all this to do with FB and Twitter? It would seem to be nothing yet I can't stop helping myself think that I'm missing something, a trick, an angle which may work, but sure as heck I don't want to get involved in daily question and answer sessions.

tedster

6:27 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



A lot of B2B companies are in the same boat, Husky. From what you've outlined, it sounds like there *might* be some value from interaction with (especially) the architectural practices segment of your market.

Would interaction with them be valuable on Facebook? Maybe not - but there's a lot more to social media than FB. These folks sound like true "influencers". Do any of them blog? Tweet about the industry? Post on industry forums or comment on industry blogs? Just listening might be useful, even without interacting.

As you say, it definitely takes time and resources to engage on social media, and there is an expense involved in that. So it is a business decision. And it can be difficult to quantify the benefits, even if listening to your marketplace does give you a big business insight.

HuskyPup

7:42 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)



Do any of them blog? Tweet about the industry?


Yes they do and they do have quite a number of followers however they tend to be the, how shall I put this, the geeky ones, the ones at the cutting edge of design, conservation or ecology, the ones who will stand and talk to you for hours on an exhibition stand making you feel you're the most important person in the world but have no intention of using your products...ever!

The www was an absolute god-send when it arrived because it finally freed me up from doing all the same things at one exhibition after another, I could simply upload all the pertinent information for these people to read at their leisure.

I'm sure there are a lot of businesses like mine trying to find that KISS idea or am I and others searching for something we do not actually need?

tedster

8:23 pm on Oct 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Here's an interesting quote from a Forbes blog today about the power of social media marketing:

For example, we discovered in IBM that when a particular eminent blogger talked about a new product announcement, it increased audience traffic to the product information web pages almost a thousand-fold.

Measuring public digital eminence can be an effective tool for marketing, but it can just as well fit into business development, recruiting, forming partnerships, or even product and service development. As a relatively young business tool, social media monitoring and digital eminence measurement methods still have much room for improvement.

However, in the end, what matters is not a question of can you measure eminence, but if you are accounting it into your business strategies.

[blogs.forbes.com...]

I am certain that such an effect gets noticed by Google - and not only if you happen to be IBM.

McSpike

4:38 pm on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



How slowly is SMM catching on shows the fact that WebmasterWorld added the Social Media part of the forum (with FB and Twitter in it) just recently.

tedster

6:21 pm on Oct 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Good observation. WebmasterWorld has long been focused on technical SEO as well as other technical aspects of the web business. The first place that Social Media appeared here was a few years back in the Supporters Area, not the public side.

But that doesn't mean that the whole world was slow to get into social media - in fact, by now there's almost a business frenzy around the topic. Early adopters are trying very hard to educate the social media newbies, even as those newbies have their effect on the whole ecosystem.

Forums were arguably the first form of social media. Remember that PubCon began as a spontaneous social extension of WebmasterWorld, not as an intentional business venture. And by now PubCon has a very strong social media track that can be a total eye-opener.

McSpike

8:24 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Social Media was here all along, only that it needed a widespread unified platform combining masses under one roof to gain such a momentum. It's the same with blogs. They are nothing but simple websites, that only needed a simple platform everyone could use without any technical knowledge. It just takes a platform that makes things SIMPLE and the concept becomes recognized across the globe.

It sickens me how media and companies display their FB fan or group pages, giving even more publicity to FB, minding not that they are sending their ad money there. They are basically forced to tell you about their FB page.

Can you imagine in year 1998 seeing a TV channel proudly display their Geocities page? LOL

Ok, it's a bit different, but in sense of advertising a web platform it's the SAME thing. It's just amazing.

No one will say "use google to find more news about us" yet they will push FB in your face, telling you to become a fan there and be fed with whatever they have to throw at you.

No website has ever received this much advertising in the media and not taking that into account with your marketing efforts is just plain silly.

Although a different type of game, it's just a parallel world anyone with a bit of creativity can conquer. And if not that they can hire people that are good at this. I think I heard a title "social media manager" somewhere.

Just as SEOs can hire copywriters and programmers and designers, so they can hire people to manage their SM pages.

HuskyPup

10:17 am on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)



Can you imagine in year 1998 seeing a TV channel proudly display their Geocities page?


Priceless McSpike :-)

HuskyPup says "I like this"...is that correct?

Victor1

5:45 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Too much Mars and not enough Venus in your SEO is like a recipe with all meat and no vegetables.


I think this is a good way to look at the recent mayday updates.

You need the vegetables to live, but you CAN live without any meat at all.


For some, this is SMM at its best and most fun.

In general... in reading this thread I am feeling a shift in my brain from the technical Seo side to the social interactive side.

Observing myself and others I can see it is easy to get caught in the tech side of seo. And if one is approaching the world from that vantage point one will never feel good about using SMM and likely not enjoy it.

It takes a shift in thinking, like changing a channel, to go to the other side of the brain and SMM. Social interaction is natural; empathy for other's problems and situations will go a long way in making SMM friends and acquaintances and that just happens to be great for algorithms and business.
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