According to a recent survey, nearly 80 percent of small businesses with an SEO strategy are confident in their understanding of SEO best practices. Many of those same businesses list social media as part of their SEO strategy, which indicates the understanding of SEO is not quite as clear as business owners might believe.
“Small business owners can often get their wires crossed when it comes to SEO strategies, usually mentioning things like social media.” – Ryan Scollon
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on organic search results bringing traffic to your website, brand awareness, lead generation and reputation management. SEO includes the careful word choice selected for use on the visible pages as well as the metadata “behind the scenes” in the website code. Other factors that can drive your SEO and, thus, traffic to your site include the frequency of which you change content on your site, inclusion of relevant videos (especially if the videos are posted to YouTube and then embedded in your site). The content and quality of your website, as well as external links to your site also strengthen the SEO.
In contrast, Social Media Marketing (SMM) is primarily focused on generating brand awareness and building relationships through social media specifically. Social media likes, comments and shares do not impact your website’s search results directly, except through social media profiles and the impact is minimal at best. Yet, brand awareness can be improved via social media through sharing news, events, community relationships and by acting as a window into your company. Social Media Marketing is an excellent tool for highlighting your expertise. Think of the social influencers who have gained substantial visibility because they engage with others on social media, share their insight on YouTube and post carefully curated images and videos on Instagram. All of these help build your brand and connect your business with those interested in the same topic ― both potential customers and employees.
Before you jump to Social Media Marketing because it sounds fun and you know how to post a photo to Facebook, take a step back to be strategic. Put first things first. Having a solid website is essential prior to focusing on social media marketing because as you build your brand on social channels, you’ll send people to your website. Make a great first impression.
While SEO and SMM are different, both are necessary tools to maintain visibility in business. The two efforts should definitely align. Still, the terms are not interchangeable and an organization should not solely focus on social media and ignore SEO.