Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL

The Web of SEO and SMO

As you may know, SEO refers to search engine optimization and SMO refers to social media optimization. Both terms are used to describe how easy it is for others to find you and/or how close to the top your listing appears after a Google search. Succeeding with each requires different tactics.

Organic SEO is based more on keywords in blogs, back linking, localization services (Google Places) and webpage design, while SMO is based more on postings on social media sites. While both are considered important, SEO has traditionally been considered much more important. Meanwhile, SMO has jokingly been referred to as the bad stepchild, or the one that requires a lot more efforts only to yield poor results.

Organic vs Inorganic Search

Traditionally there are two ways to increase the likelihood that someone will find you or your company on the Internet. You can buy the search terms used in Google searches—which is known as paid search. The alternative is known as organic search, which refers to freshly updated content on your webpage, unique and high quality content, motivating people to link to your content (backlinking), and interesting videos…all of which result in achieving better results.

But new research is claiming that it’s almost impossible to achieve the same results from organic search as you can from paid search. As a result, some are starting to think that unless you have a very unique product or highly specialized niche, the idea that you will appear on the first page of the Google search organically is almost impossible.

This was discussed in a recent article that showed that only 13% of search results are organic and the rest is “ads and junk.” This is not the first time the benefits of organic search were questioned. An article from Forrester Research in 2012 reported that social media was accounting for 32% of product discoveries as opposed to 54% from web searches. This represented an increase of 25% in 2011.

Is SEO dead?

As a result, some are saying that SEO is dead and SMO is the future. What is social media optimization? According to Wikipedia, SMO includes posting on networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as video sites such as YouTube. But it also includes review and recommendation sites such as Yelp and FourSquare.

While both SEO and SMO share similar objectives including marketing, sales, and brand recognition, SMO has some unique differences. The major being that social media is designed to create and foster a sense of community, bringing together individuals with similar interests.

But recently people are starting to talk about more differences. According to Kari Rippetoe of Search Mojo, an important difference and essential aspect of SMO is the ability to make your content as socially shareable as possible. That might mean sharing links on your blogs and your website to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn.

Do you agree that SEO is dead and SMO is becoming more important? Are you finding that social media postings are being more effective than content marketing for getting higher listings in Google searches?

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Howie Fenton
is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL as well as a paid contributor to this blog. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here.