Back in the day, if you wanted to be found on the Internet, all you had to do was create a Web page and put some content on it. You’d then type in a keyword or phrase in the search field and hit enter, and voila! Your site would come up in the search results.
But today, with the rise of social media and Google “Finder” (formerly Google Search), the game has changed. Nowadays, in order to rank high in the search results, you need to establish a presence on as many platforms as possible. And that’s where most businesses and marketing professionals go wrong. They only focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to gain traffic. But what most people don’t realize is that SEO is only one aspect of a website’s performance in the search results. After all, a website with high-quality content that gets a lot of engagement on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) will likely perform much better than a basic SEO-optimized site.
So whether you’re an ecommerce store owner, product manager, or marketer, here’s a good guide to help you understand the difference between SEO and Social Media and how they work together.
SEO vs. Social Media: What Is the Difference?
First off, you need to know what SEO is and isn’t. If you’re reading this, chances are you already know what SEO is (Search Engine Optimization). But if you’re looking for an explanation, here it is:
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of tweaking your on-page content and website structure to maximize your chances of appearing in the search results when users search for key terms or phrases. That is, you are optimizing your content to make it as easy as possible for people to find when they search for your product or service.
Note: SEO is not the same thing as PPC (Pay Per Click).
SEO can be considered a type of marketing. In fact, a company called HubSpot calls SEO “a marketing technique that helps businesses attract customers through search engine results.”
But what’s great about SEO is that you don’t need a lot of resources to get started. Simply create a blog on your website and start posting. Once you’ve got content going up, you can take a backseat and focus on other marketing tasks.
In comparison, to “optimize” on social media, you generally need to set up an account on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (and sometimes YouTube or Google+ as well). You’ll then need to build an audience on these platforms. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to post content.
The great thing about social media is that it can be incredibly cost-effective. You don’t need to hire expensive marketing agencies or a full-time social media manager. Instead, you can simply hire a freelancer to help you build your audience on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And when you have an audience on these platforms, all you need to do to begin engaging with your audience is type something in the Twitter search box, like “Hello World.” Boom! Your automated message will appear in the feed.
As you can see, SEO and Social Media have a lot in common. Both require a little bit of technical know-how and some upfront investment (in the form of content and a website), and both work best if you use specialized tools. But while SEO is about optimizing your content to appear in the search results, social media is about connecting with and engaging with people who might be interested in your product or service.
Why Is Social Media Important?
The simple answer is that people love to talk about themselves and their experiences. As a result, on social media platforms, you’ll see a steady stream of “self-produced content,” whether it’s tweets, status updates, or blog posts. So if you want to be found when a user searches for your product or service, create content that is bound to interest your audience.
Why does this matter? Imagine you’re a business owner or marketer and you want to find out what products your customers are using. How do you go about doing this? You could ask them directly, but that can be tricky because you might not always get the answer you want. You can also look at the products your customers are tweeting about or liking on social media. But that can be a bit of a random sample, not all that useful.
Instead, you could look at the businesses your customers are following. By following a few of these users, you’ll be able to see what products they are tweeting about and maybe even discover some interesting tidbits about their life or business that you didn’t know before.
For example, if you follow @johnnyguitars on Twitter, you might discover that he’s a famous guitar player and entrepreneur who builds and sells his own guitars. Following him could give you a better understanding of the types of guitars he designs and the sort of person he is. So if you’re ever going to sell your own products, it might be a good idea to follow guitar players on Twitter to see what guitar-related products they are promoting. You could even contact them to see if they are interested in collaborating on a project.
Ranking High In The Search Results
Creating great content is only part of the puzzle. If you want to appear in the search results, you need to optimize your content. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you with this.
First off, if you haven’t already, you should create a Google My Business account. This account will let you connect your business’s Google+ account with your website and other online properties (e.g., social media accounts). When people are searching for your business, they’ll see your content (e.g., website, blog articles, or social media posts) across all platforms, and it’ll help them find you.
Google recently announced a change to their algorithm that will favor resources that are locally relevant over those that are totally focused on SEO. As a result of this change, your website might not always rank at the top of a search engine result list. But as long as your site is relevant to the search term, you’ll appear somewhere in the results.
The Keywords You Should Be Using
One of the first things you should do when you begin creating content for the Internet (or for any search engine) is to identify the key words or phrases you’ll need to target. You can do this by creating a list of terms and phrases that describe your product or service and those that correspond with your chosen industry. Then, as you create content, you can use these keywords in the text.
For example, if you’re providing content for an e-commerce store and your chosen keywords are “jeans,” “garments,” and “shorts,” you might write an article about the best brands and styles of women’s denim and how to buy them online.
When someone performs a search on a search engine, they’ll enter keywords into the search bar. The engine then uses those keywords to display results for the user. If you want your website to appear in the search results for a certain keyword, you need to make sure that keyword appears in your content at least three times within the first 100 words of the text.
Content Curation: Is It A Good Or Bad Thing?
The process of researching and creating content is called content curation. And while it can be a great way to generate interest in your product or service, you need to be careful not to cross the line from being informative to being promotional. Doing this could hurt your SEO. (I’ll discuss this further down.)
If you want to be found when someone searches for your product or service, create content that is as useful as possible. This implies that you should be an active researcher who gathers information from a variety of sources.
When someone discovers that you’ve been “curating” valuable content, they might assume that you’re biased towards one side of the argument or the other. As a result, they might become less inclined to believe what you’re saying.