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SEO versus SMO – What’s the Difference, And What’s the Relationship?

What Are SEO and SMO?

SEO is search engine optimization. SMO is social media optimization. These disciplines used to be seen as separate, where SEO was applied to your website while social media optimization was applied to social media accounts for the company or organization.

Are SEO and SMO Related?

SEO and SMO have never been totally unrelated, since you want to apply SEO  to your company’s Twitter account and social media pages so that they – and not your critic’s – show up first and foremost on a search engine results page for a search for your company.

Google’s evolution toward puzzling out the user’s intent, preference for brands over keyword density and quality content are weakening traditional SEO. Yet a search engine needs to know how well content meets intent and how to rank the quality of content. Traditional measures like click through rates and the time spent on the page by users remain important. New measures have grown in importance like organic link sharing – and search engines give significant weight to links shared via social media. This is in part because it is hard to pay people to share a link compared to posting links in link directories or sending out spam emails with the link at the bottom.


How Does SEO Differ from SMO?

Very few companies have their own user forums and social media sites, though the Coke rewards website and branded car enthusiast forums come close. Social media outreach is thus different from SEO in that it takes place on platforms others maintain like Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest. The rise and fall of social media platforms is slower than the rate of change search engines: think Digg and MySpace.

SEO can be affected by factors unrelated to keyword density, title section, image titles and descriptions. Your website’s load time, media file types that don’t work for users, landing pages, redirects, poor design that looks bad on a mobile device and uncrawlability can hurt your content’s SEO even if your social media presence is strong. In theory, your company could have a massive following on multiple social media platforms and a website blacklisted by Google.

How Do You Connect SEO and SMO?

Word of mouth marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to reach new customers, because we value the opinions of people we trust over the word of strangers. The only thing that has changed is that we’re as likely to get the recommendation via a social media post of “look at my new kitchen done by XYZ!” as an in person discussion of the great service performed by the company. An ideal way to capitalize this for the purposes of SEO is to ask people to post their praise on your social media page or link to your company website when gushing about your company. Something as simple as saying “we’ll check Pinterest pages of our clients who praise us and link to us and give someone a free coupon” will generate these high quality backlinks and perhaps more social media sharing that equates to word of mouth marketing for both your company and website. The side benefit of this is that it increases the odds others will seek out information about your company even if they don’t know the referring party because they’ve heard about it from so many different sources.

SEO should be applied to your company’s social media profiles. For example, your social media accounts should be optimized to come up first and foremost for searches for your company on Facebook, Linkedin or Pinterest. You should also apply SEO to the profiles of key company personnel so that they come up in searches for themselves, as well as reflect well on the company.

Social media profiles for the company can dramatically improve the SEO of your content when done properly. Build up a large following or base, then post links to the newest content on the social media pages. The ideal content for this is something interesting, fun or eminently useful that others will want to share. As they share the link, your content’s ranking with search engines goes up. Don’t do it too often or your social media account will seem to be spamming members, so release new links to be shared on a daily (or less frequent) basis. And sharing the same link simultaneously on all corporate social media accounts can get labeled link spamming if too frequent. You can balance this by sharing different links through each social media channel.

Ideally, you’ll apply SEO to your company’s FAQ page to help it show up in the “instant answers” format when searched for as well as share the best “how to” tips via social media outreach to improve the content’s rankings even more.

On the flip side, adding social media sharing buttons to all of your content allows this to happen organically, without the “push” from the social media accounts.