SEO vs. Social Media- Who Wears the Pants?

by Cori Padgett-Bukowski · 55 comments

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The short answer if you’re tight on time and really don’t want to read my stuff (sniffle, sniffle)… is that social media and SEO wear the pants in this duo.

I know, SO boring when there’s a tie!  Where’s the blood? The guts? The glory?

No TKO?  Sheesh.

Alas, it’s true my friend.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media are catchphrases you hear and read about on a daily basis if you’re in the Internet business. And if (a VERY BIG IF) you don’t already know, these are the two top Internet marketing strategies that people are blogging, tweeting, discussing and debating about ad nauseam.

SEO and social media both have specific goals to fulfill.

The goal of SEO is to make you No. 1 in the search page rankings of Google, Yahoo and Bing. And maybe a few other search engines, but really… who cares about those?

Social media, on the other hand, is meant to get people talking to you and about you—it’s about creating a buzz through blogs, forums, social bookmarking, etc.

Ultimately, the goals of both SEO and social media are to make you popular, which, hopefully helps you make more money in whatever your business happens to be.

So now you’re wondering, is it really more important to be popular on Google (SEO) or on Twitter (social media)?

C’mon, do we really need a debate on this?

Like I said, both are important!

You want to be popular on both Google and Twitter.

No, wait.

Let’s make that all-encompassing—You want you and your brand to be popular anywhere. EVERYWHERE even. And to be popular anywhere and everywhere on the net, your Internet marketing strategy should utilize both SEO and social media strategies—they should go hand in hand.  Kind of like a marriage of sorts.

OK, so let’s talk a little background.

SEO strategies have evolved through the years. Early on, SEO was the realm of webmasters and programmers who enjoyed bucking Google’s search algorithm, which is geek speak to describe the process used to determine which page goes first in search rankings.

SEO was about: optimized site structure, meta data and descriptions, scripts, cross linking, internal linking and keyword-rich copy—or keyword stuffing as I, and many others, disgustedly dub it.

Yes, I loathe keyword stuffing.  You’ll notice the bulk of my posts probably could be better keyword optimized… but it totally ruins my blog mojo so I don’t.

I don’t even do it for clients anymore just because it’s horrible content to write.  (I do offer SEO’d content to clients, I just refuse to go hog wild with the keywords… 1-2% density is IT.)  Nor do I use totally retarded keyword phrases that make no sense within a piece.  Ya’ll know what I’m talking about too!

But I feel a rant coming on, so back to topic.

In the early stages of Internet marketing, SEO was about tricking Google, “was” being the operative word. This is no longer the case.

An effective SEO strategy today entails creating and maintaining a website that is relevant and accurate. You can trick the algorithm as much as you want—but at the end of the day, it’s not the scripts or the architecture that makes you popular.

It’s relevant and accurate content that does. Sure, architecture, linking and keyword-rich text are still important—they are still the foundations that make a good SEO strategy. Ultimately, however, an effective SEO strategy is about providing good quality content.  Preferably engaging, quality content.

Hmmm … content.

Wait a minute… pop quiz.

But isn’t social media all about content too—I mean… good quality content?

YES!

Prize for the winner!

OK, I fibbed, there’s no prize but I’ll give you a cyber hug for getting it right!

Social media all is about creating buzz through solid and relevant content. How else can you generate comments and re-tweets on your blog? How else can a video or a photo become so popular it goes “viral”?

To be popular, then, means providing great content.

So, you can tweet and blog and get the word out around Facebook. That can create a decent amount of buzz. Perhaps, after a few weeks or months, word gets around and you increase your clout or influence on both Twitter and Facebook.

That’s a decent strategy, right?

Yeah, sure it is.

But honey… you can do WAY better.

Have you checked your site analytics lately? Have you checked where your “clicks” come from? If you haven’t, check it now.  Go on, I’ll wait.

Ooohh … oooh… do you see something? Do you?

Does it say “Google”?

Better yet, how many clicks did Google generate?

Uh-Oh, it generated more clicks than Twitter and Facebook you say?  No way!

Yes way.

Let’s face it.

You may have thousands of followers on Twitter and thousands more fans on Facebook.  That’s awesome.  I have thousands myself and they rock.  I love them, and I hope they love me.

However, while thousands of fans and followers is a great number, can you honestly say that you have more clout than Google, with its millions of users daily?  Not likely.

At the same time, does Google create a sense of community and encourage users to talk to you and about you, in the same way that Twitter and Facebook does?

I’d give that a big, resounding H-E double hockey sticks NO, because social media and SEO strategies each have specific uses.  They each have a method to their madness.

But…

They do share one goal—to make you popular.

That said, why not use both?  That’s called smart and if you’re reading my blog, you gotta be smart right? ;)

Warm regards,

AKA k0zm0zs0ul

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

MattLevenhagen March 31, 2010 at 12:49 AM

RT New Blog Post- SEO vs Social Media- Who Wears the Pants? http://su.pr/2QyHhu Like it? Love it? Share it! ;D (via @coripadgett)

Reply

Bill Annibell March 30, 2010 at 9:29 PM

RT @coripadgett: New Blog Post- SEO vs Social Media- Who Wears the Pants? http://su.pr/2QyHhu | Like peas & carrots!!! Insightful post!

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Jon Stringer March 30, 2010 at 10:27 PM

OK! Great post as usuall. As a (Real) seo expert as aposed to the back hat and trickery guys, i agree. However, I do tend to seperate and merge the 2 areas at the same time. EG, create content on your site that is optimised for the keyphrases you choose but be REALLY midfull fo your vistors. Social media should be used as brand & relationship building BUT be midfull of SEO where possible! Top Tips: Be authentic and pump out great content what you reckon Cori?

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k0zm0zs0ul March 30, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Hey Jon! Totally agree… authentic, great content, optimize where you can,
build relationships! :D Sounds like a recipe for success to me. Thanks so
much for dropping by and offering your own point of view as an SEO expert…
much appreciated! :)

Reply

Mars Dorian March 31, 2010 at 11:46 PM

I suck at compromising, and I understand all the buzz about SEO, but I barely check my posts in terms of keywords density. I know I should use both, but I'm so busy in pouring my soul into my blog posts and promoting it throughout the social media scene that caring for too much SEO would simply kill my mind and weaken my hands.

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k0zm0zs0ul April 1, 2010 at 1:58 AM

Lol..yes, there is an art to compromise. :) I'm the same, I don't concern
myself too much with it.. if it happens naturally great, if it doesn't I'm
not worried. However for my clients I make the effort, since that's what
they pay me for. LOL I find trying to fit keywords in unnaturally just
ruins my whole darn post!

Reply

bizchickblogs April 5, 2010 at 6:50 AM

Great topic! I was planning on writing about this same subject this week. You beat me to the punch. :)

One additional thought: I'd say make the ratio of time spent on SEO to social media 20/80. SEO can actually be rather automated, especially for bloggers (well, Wordpress bloggers) as long as the right tools are used. It's also fairly easy to get into the habit of good SEO when writing each new post or page, or submitting an article, et cetera.

On the flipside, I find that using social media as a way of driving traffic/becoming viral/becoming popular takes much more effort, care, and trial and error. It is simply not as cut and dry as SEO because it's not science, it's art.

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Dave Higgs April 5, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Cori,

The way I understand Google Analytics is that the “direct traffic” is people who have come directly to your website – without going from a link on another site (referral) or via a search engine.

This means that as you build a readership who will (a) book mark your site, or (b) come there from emails sent to them, or (c) from an RSS reader, these will increase the “direct traffic” and this is what you should be looking for.

Loyalty.

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k0zm0zs0ul April 5, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Haa..lol Gotta be quick! ;) And excellent point, you're exactly right.
Social media can be a bit more time intensive than proper
optimization…primarily because social media is people driven, not really
tech driven I think. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

C

Reply

k0zm0zs0ul April 5, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Excellent point Dave! :D Currently I get the bulk of my traffic from
referring sites, with direct traffic coming in second at about 25% and
climbing. Woot! Must mean I'm doing something right! lol Thanks as usual
for your great comments! :D

C

Reply

Famous Bloggers June 21, 2010 at 9:06 PM

RT @BigGirlBranding: SEO vs. Social Media- Who Wears the Pants? ##BGB ##blogging http://bit.ly/dq7skl

Reply

Sandra July 2, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Hello! I just wanted to say your web site is one of the nicely laid out, most inspirational I’ve come across in quite a while. Thx! :)

Reply

admin July 3, 2010 at 2:08 AM

Hey Sandra! Thanks, I appreciate the compliment! :) Glad you’ve found some enjoyment from it, I’ve actually got a new blog design in the works that will hopefully be much more user friendly.

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marine August 10, 2010 at 7:51 AM

I got that SEO and social media both have specific goals to fulfill.the goals of both SEO and social media are to make you popular, which, hopefully helps you make more money in whatever your business happens to be.Thanks for giving information

Reply

admin August 10, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Exactly so thanks Marine…glad you enjoyed the post! :)

Reply

Nuttakorn August 24, 2010 at 2:20 PM

SEO and Social Media is different role of touch point from marketing perspective, Search is part of user journey that people looking for information and research what are products are available in the market , the task of social media is supporting the search by giving the user feedback and influence user to make the decision and then they go to make final decision by using search to website again, that’s why the search is most conversion generator tool.

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seph December 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM

It will be interesting to see how SEO and Social Media will converge or evolve. I agree that you will listen to your peers and friends when making a purchase decision compared to an algorithm. But algorithms do evolve and we can see that the “social equation” has started to appear in Google though it may still be at the early stage.

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Bulk SEO Content December 21, 2010 at 7:10 AM

Interesting blog! The balance between the two can be difficult to achieve, it can be an unfavorable factor to the success of a website. But I think if you combine social media strategies with SEO, you have a deadly combination.

Reply

SEO Company January 10, 2011 at 5:37 AM

Hi,
Very good posting about Differences between seo and social Media.The goals of both SEO and social media are to make you popular, which, hopefully helps you make more money in whatever your business happens to be.
Thanks,
Katerina.

Reply

Chris January 21, 2011 at 6:06 PM

I think that a lot of us who are in SEO and social media tend to underestimate just how these marketing disciplines truly are. While most of think that social media is a way of life and SEO is a sort of “old faithful” tool in our marketing arsenal, the reality is that for most marketing executives the traditional advertising and marketing channels still garner the lion’s share of budget and attention.

SEO and social media are hot topics on the various industry portals out there, but when push comes to shove, they’re often little more than budgeting afterthoughts.

Reply

admin January 25, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Hey Chris.. I agree that many large corps are still operating their marketing efforts in more traditional mediums. However times are a’changing, and I think that SEO and Social media will evolve and become more mainstream methods of marketing over time, and no longer just be the afterthought to the big boys. It’s only natural as more and more people move online for big companies to adopt methodologies to help them reach those people.

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Ryan January 30, 2011 at 3:04 PM

This is an interesting discussion. I think that it’s very important to be very well-rounded when trying to start a website for fun, for business, or when you’re trying to help a client get a bigger online presence.

Social media is exploding, and I think that google’s rankings will follow suit.

I envision that social media will continue to grow rapidly and be of far more importance than the traditional ways of SEO optimization in the future.

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admin January 30, 2011 at 11:54 PM

Hey Ryan! I agree, I think social media is still in it’s infancy stages, and it’s only going to grow bigger and badder. :)

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Adam February 4, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Social media works really well. Its great for getting a starting readership and gaining visability.

Seo I find works better in the long run by providing a steady readership and long term traffic.

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admin February 9, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Hey Adam! You could be right! :) I find I get about equal parts search traffic and social media traffic to BGB these days.

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Katie Bowen February 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Yea, I feel like with Google announcing changes to their algorithm, it’s clear that social media (facebook, twitter, likes, sharing) seem to becoming much more important. SEO practices/companies are becoming somewhat spammy.

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admin March 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Hey Katie.. I agree, I think I get at least a handful of spam SEO emails a week, telling me how they can improve my site. lol

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Seo Agency 10th Degree March 15, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Both have their uses; I think a mix of organic traffic and branding via social media is a good strategy. Also remember that social media has an effect on organic rankings; links from popular Twitter profiles and FB profiles, even if they are no-follow can also influence your SEO rankings.

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admin March 16, 2011 at 11:32 PM

Very true, thanks for the point of view hun! :)

Reply

Omid Memarian March 27, 2011 at 4:20 AM

RT @BigGirlBranding: #BGB Remix: SEO vs. Social Media- Who Wears the Pants? http://su.pr/2JnP31 #Blog #business

Reply

Natalie Sisson May 26, 2011 at 3:40 AM

RT @BigGirlBranding: #BGB Remix: SEO vs. Social Media- Who Wears the Pants? http://su.pr/2JnP31 #Blog #business

Reply

George July 1, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Now that we have become so used to both SEO and social media I think life would be incomplete without these duos :) Those who do not run sites need not worry about SEO works but what kind of information will they get on the net if the blog owners do not optimize their blogs?

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admin July 2, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Too true George seo does help big G decide n relevance. I think a healthy attention to both is good enough for me. :) seo however is not something I will kill myself over! Lol

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Generate Web Traffic September 15, 2011 at 2:08 AM

Very nice and well thought post. From my point of view, neither one can done the job fully. The answers lies between the combination of these two option. If anyone can combine this. Then he will be gainer.

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admin September 15, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Exactly. :)

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Rowan December 25, 2011 at 7:44 AM

You’re exactly right, it’s not a matter of either or, they are both the same thing, and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. You want to learn how to get traffic from anywhere and everywhere at the same time.

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Mike Stephenson February 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM

Cori,

They are both important from a brand perspective, definitely.
I’d say if you’re an SEO, then Social Media is part of your SEO drive, to get your website known and ticking along.
If you’re a Social Media person, then SEO is going to be of your world, to advertise and spread the word from Social Media to other on the net.
Both are forms of advertising, and the more advertising you get out there about your website, the better it will do, so yes, I completely agree!!

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Sam Daniel February 26, 2013 at 3:48 AM

Good to read. Yes social media is the key to promote your business and to market your product as well. Content matters a lot. You should share something handy so that people will love it and they will share it too. Its all about online reputation.

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admin February 26, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Hey Sam.. can’t argue that. :)

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Sahil January 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Certainly social media is the talk of the town right now but it can be gamed too..

Google will soon realise the mistake of Making connection between social and search.

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Cori Padgett-Bukowski January 15, 2014 at 11:38 PM

I agree, just about any system can be gamed if someone is motivated enough!
Cori Padgett-Bukowski recently posted..5 Ways A Blogger (Like You) Can Make a Little MoolaMy Profile

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