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SMO: putting the social into search

SMO: putting the social into search

March 05, 2012 by Grant Leboff

Social media in search boxSearch Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the way of improving visibility by trying to ensure one has as high a web ranking as possible when relevant searches are undertaken. This is visibility in unpaid or organic search results as opposed to those opportunities which companies pay for in order to be found.

As many people’s first port of call, when looking for a new product or service, is a search engine, the importance of coming up in the first few entries, on a relevant search, is widely understood.

Many people, however, still think of SEO as separate from any social media activity they undertake. However, this is simply no longer the case. Social media is fast becoming the major way that people are sharing and, therefore, discovering new information online. This means that search engines have long had to take into account social media activity and incorporate it into their search results. This is because so much web activity is undertaken on social platforms and so failure to do this would start to render search results irrelevant.

The trend, however, has been fast tracked by the creation of the Google + platform. Google is now incorporating brand pages from the platform into search results. They are also providing users with the option to see relevant search information, gathered from their connections, in the Google + network.

This means that if businesses want to ensure they show up in the searches that people undertake, they have to address their social media activity as part of their SEO strategy, not as a separate entity. In other words, the lines are blurring between what is traditional SEO and what is social media activity. Over time, they are very likely to become almost one and the same thing.

Social Media Optimisation (SMO) is not as familiar a phrase as SEO. However, it is now becoming increasingly important in the effectiveness of SEO.

Businesses must increasingly ask themselves what they are trying to convey in a piece of social media activity. By understanding the message they are trying to put across, they will be able to ensure they use the relevant keywords in order that the content is found.

Furthermore, companies must ask where the value in their activity is for a customer. It is only by ensuring that they are adding value, from a customer perspective, that businesses can protect themselves from falling into the trap of simply using social media platforms to broadcast their message. Simply broadcasting is not engaging and is likely to damage a company’s reputation over time.

Finally, businesses must ask themselves why and how they would expect someone to share any content they create. Without making it easy for people to share content and without giving them a reason to do this, companies miss out on the biggest opportunity social media provides. That is, not all marketing and communications have to be undertaken by your business.

Today, those people engaged with your organisation have the means to market and communicate your business for you. These communications are more likely to be well received because they are not sent by a company but by one’s friends and colleagues. Moreover, these are people you could probably never hope to reach any other way.

One of the trends for 2012 is the increasing socialisation of information. The web is becoming social. The lines between activity on social platforms and other web activity are becoming blurred. Failure to incorporate social media as part of your overall SEO strategy will render it less likely that your organisation appears in the search results of your potential customers.

Grant LeBoff is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and CEO of the Sticky Marketing Club.


Peterzmijewski's picture

Well Social Media Optimisation (SMO) is the cousin of SEO and  SMO is now becoming increasingly important in the effectiveness of SEO.

IoannisG's picture

Good morning,I totally agree with you (apart the Google + part) and a great post to start the week.To me social media is more important than ever right not only because they boost your SEO performance but most importantly because if a company is socialy engaged it can achieve rank 1 visits on its web site in comparison to its competitors by simply monitoring and engaging in social media channels. I have gained numerous rank 1 clicks via twitter simply because I have set up streams with keywords that are relevant to my business and am able to find out what are people looking for and engage with them. That way I can also be on top of the trends and be proactive on my blog posts. This is one of the tactics I follow...create blog posts based on what people are asking/looking via social media and then direct them there. I am trying to become "sticky" so they can come back at me when they decide to buy a relevant service. Long process but it will pay off I am sure.I am not an SEO expert but am involved in the internet marketing industry since 2001 where I did my internet marketing degree on behalf of Honda thus I have a clear understanding from a technical and content pov. There are numerous exaples that Google got either tricked (GO Daddy spammy link case study - or failed to deliver relevant search information . This is why i consider networking (virtual or not) one of the most important ways of doing business.And social media marketing is the best networking tactic you can practise on the internet right now, more powerful than Google or anything else. There are plenty of popular social media networking tools that help you directly connect with your target audience and their circles (friends or personal networks), but most importantly you will be able to identify the “language” used, keywords and terminology used for your product or services by your ideal target audience, topics that concern them in your industry sector, trends and so much more intelligence that with proper use will propel you up the rankings. All of this is invaluable information, will keep you in the pole position and help you start building personal relationships with your audience and design a very accurate marketing strategy by directly connecting with them as well as providing content that will add value to your brand and products. And I believe that if you do your job well and start a buzz around your name on Facebook groups and status updates, not only will people who are interested in your products  find you, but you will also be able to reach those who do not care about your products but see your name liked or referred to on  a friend's wall. And that is the power of social media marketing.In regards to Google + while I know the benefits SEO wise I believe (and this is just my personal POV) that a social network is a "place" not a "product" and that it will not affect someones social media performance. And while you might create your +1 page and post all your info and well crafted with keywords blog posts there if there are no people to engage with (like facebook) then I can not really see the benefit. To me Google's social network failed and the biggest proof is the new Google Privacy Policy which in my eyes is a workaround of where Google + failed. They wanted more information about individual users since they realised that Facebok knows more about you than them thus they can create more accurate ad targeting. New privacy policy will achieve just that. Sorry for the long post I am getting passionate with these things.Have a lovely Monday

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