What are the differences between social media and SEO? This is a question that I get from a lot of small business owners and for good reason. There’s tons of noise floating out there and contradicting messaging about SEO is dead, and it’s all about content marketing, or social media optimization and social media marketing and you need to do Pinterest and all this stuff. And you’re like, “‘Dude, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I just want some customers.” Right?
So before we dig into the differences between SEO and social media, which are both important and valid components of an online marketing strategy, I want you to understand a really important concept, which is the four types of website traffic. Because no matter how big or small your business or website is, there are only four ways people can get to your site.
Number one is direct traffic, which is someone knowing your URL, which is just your website address. They type it in, they get there, they know you exist. They go to their browser and type your URL directly.
The second is search traffic. Someone who goes and says, they don’t say it, well they can, nowadays, but they usually type, “Who’s the best hairdresser in Denver,” “Mexican food San Diego,” or “Mexican hairdresser Phoenix.” Right? They type something into Google, into a search engine, or Bing maybe, and they go from the natural search results page to your website. So that is a search visit, search traffic.
Referral traffic is simply somebody that comes from another site on the web, other than a search engine, to your site. So if they see your profile on Facebook or something you published there, or on Yelp, or on somewhere you’ve paid for a listing in a directory, that is a referral traffic.
And finally, there are campaign visits, campaign traffic, which means you paid for Google AdWords or a Facebook sponsored post or ad, or maybe even a display ad, and that generated a visit back to your site.
So direct traffic, search traffic, referral traffic, and campaigns. S now we need to look at not only the differences but how SEO and social media work together.
Well, search traffic, which comes from SEO efforts, is simply about understanding the needs of a specific target audience, writing content that speaks to those needs, interests,and concerns of your audience, and making sure you have your bases covered with SEO basics. If you have a WordPress site, I recommend that you use the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s awesome. It’s free. It even has a color-coding system to make sure you’ve done some of the right things in terms of SEO. But don’t overthink it. Don’t believe the hype. Everyday Google is bridging the gap between robots and humans, and that’s all they want to do is provide a good experience. So if you have a good site and you publish good stuff, on a good schedule, you’re going to be fine for SEO, but just cover your basics.
Now the fourth step of that SEO strategy is to bridge the gap between search engines and social media. So with SEO, you wait. You put good content out there, and the search engines index that content and they find it. It becomes available when people type search queries into Google, right? So if you write an article called, “How Long Does it Take to File Bankruptcy in Phoenix,” and then you wrote a good nice media, an original article, you publish it on your site, eventually people typing that in will get there once your site builds up more momentum and more link juice and that kind of thing.
But to bridge the gap between SEO and social media, this is an important concept. You don’t stop there at that third step of writing valuable content and optimizing it for search engines. You actually syndicate it. So instead of waiting for Kevin Costner to show up on your website, in the Field of Dreams, you actually push your content out to social sites. You syndicate that content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, Google+.
So a social media strategy is a little bit different where you set up shop with good, consistent profiles, you engage your audience in groups, where they hang out online. So you go and talk to them and join discussions. Notice I’m not telling you to sell stuff and spam offers. You actually find the questions and concerns on social media groups and engage with them and just add value.
You also want to share valuable content, from yourself or from others. So if you see a really cool, inspiring image that your audience would find useful or an article that somebody else published on Facebook and you share that, you’re adding content. So these things are going to help you build an audience. You can even do paid promotions on Facebook and target a certain demographic or the perfect client, an avatar of the perfect client. If you sell services to law firms, for example, you can say, “I want to target 50 to 62-year old male folks that have the word law firm or they’re lawyers on Facebook,” and you can do paid ads. But at the end of the day, it’s all about building an audience. Then you need to generate leads and opt-ins on social sites.
A lot of people have no idea what to do on social media sites. They just kind of click around, add some stuff, put a picture up there, and then they don’t really get it. It’s just another vehicle for reaching your audience where they hang out. Instead of waiting on your website, you’re actively engaging with them out there, but you want to put some kind of opt-in offer to get somebody to download something, to give you their email address, or to contact you. You can use coupons and special offers or anything, but you want to have a goal for social media visitors to convert and to come back to your site or to pick up the phone and call you, or to opt-in for your email list.
Finally, measure what’s happening in Google Analytics. How much of your traffic comes from search engine optimization or SEO traffic, and how much of it comes from referral traffic from social sites? So if you go to Google Analytics and you click on Traffic Sources Overview, it’ll show you, for any time period you want, how many people are coming based on referrals from social media sites or from search engines, and then once you get more familiar with Analytics, you can look at what sources are converting the best, where you have the best visitors, the most engaged visitors.
But at the end of the day, the difference between social media and SEO is that social media is about reaching your audience where they are hanging out and engaging with them and increasing your presence outside of your website. Search engine optimization is simply optimizing content that’s on your own website and publishing it and getting traffic from search engines.
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