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SEO is from Mars, SMM is from Venus

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

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

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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.

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]

1:56 am on Oct 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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SMM Defined: Social Media Muggers.

For me there is Social Media, and Media Marketing, but no such thing as Social Media Marketing. It has no pulse and neither do the people who are obsessed with it. It is only marketers desperately trying to breath artificial life into it. I'm not anti-marketing, I am anti-SMM. My daily work revolves around helping small business people market their products or services strictly via the internet.

They don't care for all that "venus-style" right brain nonsense!

Actually I do, very much. But, for me "venus-style" is all about expression of creativity and has nothing at all to do with logic. SEO and SMM is all Mars. The north pole of my left brain is the architect and my right brain waits patiently to express its logic visually through graphic design and creative writing. When I surrender control to my right brain, after explaining to her what I want to accomplish, she goes to work and produces a final presentation that will promote itself through visual appeal and flow of expression, no social media #*$!ing (rhymes with limping) required. Her final product will promote itself allowing Mars north time for leisure and meditation while Mars south spends countless hours crying in his beer because he is overworked and has lost touch with reality.

Venus is simply waiting patiently for those 2 Mars poles to come to agreement so she can begin her work. Though impartial, deep inside she hopes for the north pole to guide her. If the south pole wins the battle of wits she knows she is going to be exploited. The north pole of Mars is the architect and the south pole are the "in your face" marketers. Traditional marketers don't know enough about SEO logic so they have to work double-duty which consumes a whole lot of their energy to accomplish what can be done with less effort through logical SEO.

Guess what - Google has their new source of ranking signals!

Those signals Google are picking up are distress cries from Pluto. And of course we know that's not a good place to be headed since they were removed from the collective agreement a few years ago. SMM will self-destruct eventually. Client sites I developed have held their ground throughout all the changes implemented at Google in the last 6 months. Except for a band website, they do not apply SMM in any way, shape or form. The band site does because hey, it is a social event and they really do have fans. They don't have to buy those fans either. The fans arrive naturally to enjoy the gifts of creative expression those guys have. In fact my client sites have gained ground and moved up higher on page one results from their lower page one SERP positions. Meanwhile, competing sites that were higher (some jumping on the SMM) fell off page one and some I can't even find anymore, pity.

SEO is not old school unless your philosophy of SEO is restricted to backlinks. My SEO always has, and always will, revolve totally around on-site logic because it works tremendously well. Only after I have developed everything to be as efficient as possible, copywriting, code, standards, as well as server performance, do I begin to look off-site for a few quality backlinks to enhance it all. Maintaining this approach ensures things remain stable through algorithm changes -- it is my responsibility to my clients so they too can enjoy some real social leisure time in fresh air away from the anti-social device we call computers.

The acid test is simple. If you were only allowed to use one method or the other, SEO or SMM, which would you apply? For me SEO can stand on its own but SMM cannot. In order for SMM to work you will have to be able to keep the audience's attention. Today's consumers have very short attention spans, you cannot keep them focused. It's like someone else here said; they are like butterflies. Make it easy for them so that when they remember that they need something they search for it and voila, there you are on page one of SERPs. SMM, what a waste of precious time.

I love the internet and how it helps us with our daily chores. But, at the same time there is sooooo much fluff floating around. SMM is among the fluffiest of it all.
10:01 pm on Oct 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator anallawalla is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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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.

(What a fantastic thread - I just discovered it, thanks, tedster.)

Most technical SEOs I have met seem to have come from a computing/web background and I see an absence of SMM in their suite of offerings. Yet I always say that SEO is a marketing discipline.

I'm currently writing a SMM strategy where the B2C product is so ubiquitous and essential that it doesn't intrinsically lend itself to SM interactions. e.g. think petrol, groceries, electricity etc. At best, a customer might tweet about the price or poor service but nobody would bother to RT it.

My case could well be like your B2B clients who sell, say fertilizer, fork lift trucks, or railway crossing signals. :)

B2B or B2C, there is always an "angle" where SMM can fit in. Think laterally like the French expression "cherchez la femme".

It might be an intermediary, such as an event or unusual use for the product. A few truckloads of fertilizer sent to a worthy cause in a farming district, sponsoring a contest etc could be the way to generate SM content. It would not come close to the success of a celebrity or gadget related campaign, but better than not trying at all.
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