In addition to online sellers, traditional companies too are increasingly resorting to digital marketing tactics. There are two chief segments of online marketing: Search Engine Optimization or SEO, and Social Media Optimization or SMO.
We know that SEO involves adding keywords in blogs, linking to your site, and making it easy for search engine spiders to crawl and index your site as a rule, so that it appears in the search results.
SMO is a way of generating traffic to your site through social networking sites by interacting with clients, creating brand awareness with page creation, sharing and liking products and so on.
So which method is more effective? Which should you choose? Consider the following before you decide:
Most people (61 percent) are more likely to search on Google or Yahoo when they want to find, for example, a yoga teacher or a reputed chiropractor. To be found easily, it is important to rank high. And how will you do this?
- Include keywords entered most frequently by searchers, including variations on those words, to account for misspellings, but remember not to overdose on keywords.
- Create blogs that are interesting and informative using one of the several free blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, etc. Consistently post fresh and relevant content to your blog and provide links to your site. Ensure you don’t post duplicate content, ever.
- Have a fan page in popular social networking websites and engage with your followers frequently and build trust.
On the other hand, when people, especially teenagers and young adults, see a product their close friends have ‘liked’ or ‘shared’ they are likely to trust it. If you have a presence on social sites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.), every time your brand is tagged or liked, and your handle is mentioned, a peer recommendation takes place. This is a very strong pull for the younger consumers.
One big advantage social media has is that you can respond to product criticisms or other issues yourself and set matters straight. There are independent product review sites and bogus reviewers who could damage your reputation, as these negative reviews turn up in search results.
You can also buy ads or highlight yourself (i.e. Facebook Ads, promoted tweets) and your products.
But if you try to launch an SMO campaign without optimizing your content, it would not make any sense at all. Social network members’ actions are also considered by search engines, and posts with more likes and shares are more visible in search results. Implementing SEO tactics without any scope for social network participation will make getting links to your site a back-busting job.
So what does this tell you? Content plus links equals SEO victory. This means that combining the two will give you the best shot at marketing your products online. Let’s take a quick look at how you can achieve this:
- Identify your target market and understand their behaviour, preferences and so on. You can make use of social media monitoring software for this.
- Identify your objectives. Is it increasing sales? Addressing customer issues and enhancing their experience? SMO is not direct marketing, so your goals will be slightly different here.
- To achieve your goals in a combined effort, you need to focus on both aspects: content and interaction. Your content should be interesting while containing the right keywords, so that it is shared.
- Find the right balance between the two. For this, you need to determine where your target audience interacts and shares content. You need to invest some time into your relationships with your potential and existing clientele.
- Make use of analytics tools and social media monitoring programs to check if you are achieving your goals. If you’re not, perhaps you need to change something to improve it.
SEO and SMO have a symbiotic relationship, and to launch an effective campaign on the Web, you would do well to combine the two and not choose between them.